LAKEWOOD - Jaysean Skrine could have settled for second place and nobody would have blamed him at the state track and field meet. By the time the Fountain-Fort Carson anchor got the baton in the 800-meter relay, Cherokee Trail's Brandon Singleton was already a few steps ahead of him.
And in the sprinting world, a few steps may as well be a few miles.
But Skrine shouldered a huge comeback and leaned into the finish line almost simultaneously with Singleton before crashing onto the track surface near his cheering teammates. And by the time he picked himself off the track, wiped the blood from his elbow, the photo-finish results were announced on the scoreboard at Jefferson County Stadium, giving the Trojans the nod by 0.02 seconds to win the Class 5A 800 relay at 1:26.21.
In all, five Colorado Springs' schools won titles Friday in the event.
The Pine Creek girls (1:37.57) just missed setting the state record for the second straight day in Class 5A. They won gold but actually seemed disappointed. Eagles anchor Alleandra Watt said the team had "bigger goals" and the 800 relay "already celebrated yesterday" when they broke the state record at 1:37.05.
Manitou Springs' boys (1:28.98) redeemed themselves after coming up 0.03 seconds short of a state title last year and just missed the Class 3A state meet record by 0.67 seconds.
Vanguard's boys (1:31.09) edged two schools at the line to take the Class 2A title.
And Palmer Ridge's Caleb Ojennes bounced back from a shaky handoff and helped the Bears surge past the boys' Class 4A field in 1:27.42.
Fountain-Fort Carson, which faced most of those area teams during the season, proved to have the most dramatic day of all.
"We were prepared for this," Skrine said. "I knew how much we wanted this, and I wasn't going to let anything get in the way of that."
That's why he made sure to take in any last-minute advice from his coaches. And with 50 meters to go, Skrine, soft spoken at times, remembered what seemed to be the most important nugget at the time: "I remembered my coaches telling me (Singleton) doesn't always finish the best. He has the tendency to let up at the end."
The thought helped give him the belief that he could catch the Cherokee Trial senior at the end.
"Yeah, he got me. I knew he got me at the end," Singleton said. "I didn't do enough to keep him off. It's a dumb mistake by me."
After dropping the baton and finishing last in the 800 relay at state last season, Jai'Shawn Thompson and Tevin Donnell returned for another try at the title, adding Christian Lyon and Skrine to the mix. As a result, Fountain-Fort Carson cruised during the season and was one of the favorites at state after posting a third-best time of 1:28.11 coming into Friday.
"There was a lot of pressure on us. And I think, there was a lot of pressure on me too," said Thompson, the returning Class 5A 200 champ, who has dealt with a leg injury all season. "I haven't been myself this season and I didn't want to let anyone down and be the reason we lost. I was really excited to see (Skrine) cross the line. I knew we had it before the scoreboard told everyone."