Telluride’s Jaden Evans put the finishing touches on his high school running career by winning a state championship in his final race.
Evans, a Telluride High School senior, executed a daring yet victorious race plan to capture the title in the 1,600-meter run Saturday afternoon at the annual State Track and Field Championships in Lakewood.
In the final Class 2A distance race of the season, Evans took over the lead on the second of four laps at historic Jeffco Stadium.
In the process, Evans surged in front of Isaac Roberts of Lyons — the same Isaac Roberts who had beaten Evans in the 3,200-meter run a day earlier at states. Roberts finished first in the 3,200; Evans finished second.
But in the 1,600, Evans ramped up the tempo through the second and third laps.
The Telluride senior, with one final late burst on the final lap, held off the highly decorated Roberts to win the 1,600 state title.
“I knew Isaac Roberts was going to use the same strategy as before, try to follow me and pass me on the last lap,” Evans said. The Telluride runner had experienced Roberts’ late kick in the 3,200 just 24 hours earlier.
“I knew he would have that kick; I tried to gap him,” Evans said. “So with 500 (meters) to go, I really laid on the gas pedal.”
Evans eased ahead of Roberts as he increased his pace.
“Once he didn’t make the pass happen up here (on the final curve), all I had to do was hold him off,” Evans said. “And I did … barely.”
Evans won the 1,600 state championship in 4 minutes, 30.27 seconds — a Telluride school record.
“It’s very rewarding … pretty unreal,” said Evans, who had finished fourth in the same race a year ago. “Going in, I had three goals: PR, go sub-4:30 and a state title. If any of those worked out, I would have been happy.”
And Jaden Evans was happy Saturday.
“I didn’t get the (sub) 4:30. But I got the school record and a state title,” said Evans, who surpassed Jack Plantz in the Telluride school record books.
But the soon-to-be Telluride graduate, in spite of his state championship, wanted to talk about his teammates.
“The thing is, (track) seems like an individual sport, but you don’t work out alone. You rely on everyone else,” Evans said in sharing his state championship with his fellow Miners. “I’m so grateful for the support of coaches, teammates. I’m so proud of Maya (Ordonez) getting on the podium as well … she did an awesome job, incredible effort.”
Evans won a third state medal in the Class 2A 800 meters when he finished eighth in 2 minutes, 03.09 seconds. Colton Jonjak-plahn of Lyons won the 800 in 1 minute, 59.43 seconds.
Fellow Telluride senior Ordonez capped her prep career with two state medals in 2019, making a remarkable comeback from injury.
Ordonez, who was on the state podium as a sophomore, was studying abroad last year and missed the 2018 state meet.
“I didn’t even think I would qualify (for state),” Ordonez said. “I started my season like in April because of my stress fracture, so it’s definitely gratifying.”
Without a significant training base, the Telluride senior finished eighth in the 3,200 in 12 minutes, 27.01 seconds. Ordonez finished ninth in the 1,600 with a time of 5 minutes, 42.73 seconds — the final podium position.
Chloe Veilleux of Soroco won both Class 2A distance races. She ran 11 minutes, 45.44 seconds to win the 3,200 and 5 minutes, 17.16 seconds to take the 1,600, respectively.
The Telluride High School track team also produced state podium performances from Maile Silva, Lily Graves and the girls 4x100 relay team.
Silva, a sophomore, won third-place state medals in the long jump and the 300-meter hurdles. She ran 47.37 seconds in the hurdle race, which was won in state-record time by Kaiya Firor of Hotchkiss (44.06 seconds).
Silva jumped 16 feet, 4.75 inches to take third place in the long jump. Remington Ross of Highland won her second consecutive state title with a distance of 17 feet, 11.5 inches.
“I love the time I got (in the hurdles),” Silva said. “I’m happy with the place.” She said her focus was on fundamentals at state in the long jump, the hurdles and the 4x100 relay.
Graves, a Telluride junior, finished sixth in the triple jump. Already the Telluride school record-holder, Graves jumped 33 feet, 3.5 inches for her podium finish. Alison Rajzer of Hayden won the triple jump at 35 feet, 9.25 inches.
“I’m really stoked. I’m so happy that I got into the finals,” Graves said. “Last year, I didn’t even make it to the finals.”
She also broke the school record yet again at states.
“I also PR’d. That was really exciting, too,” Graves said. “I wish I could have done a little bit better, but I’m grateful I’m on the podium.”
She also credited the Telluride coaching staff.
“I really couldn’t have done this without my coach, Mark Galbo,” Graves said. “He’s been there for everything — not only as jumpers coach but also as a person. He’s an inspiration.”
Graves and Silva then teamed up with Elena Scheibler and Shannon Wyszynski as the Miners finished third in the 4x100 relay at Jeffco Stadium.
The Telluride foursome ran a time of 51.74 seconds. The Telluride relay runners broke the school record. The Meeker girls won the relay in 51.06 seconds; Holyoke was second (51.58 seconds).
The Telluride girls finished 11th as a team at the state championships, while the boys placed 16th. Highland High School from Ault won the Class 2A girls team title. Lyons finished second. The Lyons boys won the state team title. Mancos finished second. There are 64 Class 2A high schools in Colorado track and field.
After the three-day state track championships wrapped up in Lakewood on Saturday afternoon, the Telluride tracksters headed for home.
Evans, the Telluride state champion, said he planned to celebrate with “a very large Oreo milkshake.”