State champion again: Summit’s Ella Hagen wins 1,600-meter state title at final day of the Colorado state track and field meet
Dom Remeikis rounds out high school career with bronze medal in 4A boys 1,600-meter run
Editor’s Note: The Summit girls track and field team tied for ninth place with Widefield High School
The final day of the Colorado State Track and Field Championships is always full of excitement. After weeks of training with their respective high schools, athletes converge and face off against one another in order to be crowned one of the best in the state of Colorado.
On Saturday, May 20, Summit High School athletes competed in some of the most highly anticipated races of the 2023 spring track season with track fans filling Jefferson County Stadium in Lakewood to see the result.
In the 4A girls 1,600-meter run, Summit High School sophomore Ella Hagen and Niwot High School freshman Addison Ritzenhein met again after the two battled against one another in the 3,200-meter run on Thursday morning. Hagen looked to get the better of Ritzenhein on Saturday in the 1,600-meter run after Ritzenhein just beat her to the finish line for the 3,200-meter state title.
With the pop of the starter’s gun, Hagen and a fellow Tiger, freshman Lauren McCalla, took off with the rest of the 18-girl field.
The first lap of the race went out at a manageable pace, with Ritzenhein and Niwot’s Olivia Alessandrini both leading the field through the first 400 meters of the race. On the second lap, the pace slowed considerably and the field of runners bunched close together as athletes fought for an ounce of open space.
Not wanting to trip or let the race come down to a pure kick to the finish, Hagen surged around the front of the pack and took full control.
“Early on in the race I realized I was pretty darn boxed in there, but I just said ‘Relax and take it step by step and when you see that opening, go for it,'” Hagen said. “On this straight I decided I was going to take the corner and see what happens. I just tucked my head and went for it.”
With a lap of 1 minute, 10.74 seconds, Hagen spread out the race, but was quickly trailed by Silver Creek’s Grace Moroney and Ritzenhein. With a lap to go, Hagen had broken everyone in the field, except for Moroney who continued to bob behind her, refusing to not be defeated without a fight.
The two runners pulled even to each other with 200 meters to go. In the last 50 meters, Hagen pulled free of Moroney, crossing the finish line as the 4A girls 1,600-meter state champion.
“There were almost no thoughts,” Hagen said. “It was just like, ‘Oh my gosh, I am here and I am done. It is everything you want it to be, it is everything that you trained for, everything that you put into it.'”
Hagen crossed the finish line in a time of 4:54.35, which reset her own school record mark in the event and also brought her under the 5-minute mile barrier for the first time in her career.
“It feels amazing,” Hagen said. “It is something that I have been chasing for a long, long time. I knew that I could do it. All season I have been right on the brink so doing it on the final race, on the big day is amazing.”
McCalla also had a strong race. Similar to Hagen, she moved up in the second half of the four-lap race. She recorded lap splits of 1:16.20 and 1:17.43 on her last two laps, which allowed her to finish in 12th place with a new personal-best time of 5:08.75.
Prior to the showdown between Hagen and Ritzenhein, senior Dom Remeikis and Battle Mountain High School juniors Will Brunner and Porter Middaugh squared off together in the 4A boys 1,600-meter run for the last time in their high school careers.
Remeikis was beaten by both fellow Western Slope runners in the 3,200-meter run on Thursday, but he was able to get the better of Brunner in the 800-meter run on Friday afternoon, when Remeikis sprinted his way to a fourth-place finish.
The 1,600-meter run served as the rubber match between Remeikis and Brunner, with the winner getting the ultimate bragging rights for the league and region.
The race started at a rapid pace with the entirety of the field being pulled through the first 400 meters well under 65 seconds. The pace continued to stay hot, with almost the entire field packed together as they rocketed around the track.
With 400 meters to go, Remeikis decided to kick hard past Brunner and follow Grand Junction Central’s Shalom Trowbridge. Free of the swarming pack of runners, Remeikis really opened up the final 200 meters and leaned past Niwot’s Rocco Culpepper at the finish line to capture bronze and a new personal-best time of 4:16.01.
“This race I was probably the most nervous for considering it was my last high school race so I definitely wanted to do well,” Remeikis said. “The first lap was crazy fast and the pace kind of held. Going into the final lap I knew I was in contention so I kind of had that same mentality as the 800 yesterday, ‘fast, faster, fastest.’ I was able to outlean someone for third and it was a good day.”
With a fourth- and third-place finish at his final state track and field meet, Remeikis couldn’t be more happy with how his senior season came to a close.
“It is sort of surreal that it is over,” Remeikis said. “I am obviously glad that it happened. There were a lot of bumps along the way, but I had great support. Coach Mike (Hagen), my friends, my family they all helped me through it. I am glad it happened and I am looking forward to the next years in college.”
The 4A boys 1,600-meter run was won by Trowbridge (4:14.50).
The excitement continued for Summit High School in the 300-meter hurdles where freshman Faith Fox was able to show off her prowess in the event as one of two freshmen in the final.
Fox smoothly navigated herself over the hurdles and galloped to the finish line, crossing the finish line in 46.06 seconds, resetting her own school record from yesterday and finishing in fifth place.
Niwot’s Kimora Northrup won the event in 43.05 seconds.
The meet concluded with the Summit girls 4×400-meter relay team competing in the 4A girls 4×400-meter final.
With a guaranteed podium finish, the relay team composed of Fox, McCalla, Hagen and freshman Teagan Barth competed with confidence over the four-lap race.
Fox started the relay off on a good note before handing the baton off to McCalla. McCalla and Barth kept the team in a competitive spot before Hagen closed out the race for the team. The team crossed the finish line in seventh place with a time of 4:06.71.
The Summit girls track and field team placed within the top 10 in the Class 4A rankings, finishing tied for ninth out of 40 teams with 33 points. The Summit boys track and field team placed 20th out of 39 teams with 13 points.
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