Summit’s Ella Hagen seizes silver medal at Day 1 of the Colorado state track and field meet

Summit girls 4x800 meter relay team earns bronze medal with new school record mark

Cody Jones/Summit Daily News
Ella Hagen competes in the 4A girls 3200-meter run at Day 1 of the Colorado state track and field championships on Thursday, May 18. Hagen placed second. Read more on Page 6.
Cody Jones/Summit Daily News

There are very few things more challenging in a distance running race than leading an entire field of runners. Leading the race is not only a massive amount of pressure, but it also tends to quickly diminish a runner’s energy.

Summit High School sophomore Ella Hagen knew the cost of leading a race heading into the 4A girls 3,200-meter run at Colorado State Track and Field Championships on Thursday, May 18, but she decided to take on the challenge anyway.

With confidence from placing third in last year’s race, Hagen quickly started it out with Niwot High School freshman Addison Ritzenhein — and her teammate Olivia Alessandrini — quickly following her rapid footsteps.

From the first few strides, it became clear that the real race to the finish line would be between Hagen and Ritzenhein. The first lap of the race was completed well under 5-minute-mile pace with a split of 1 minute, 13.86 seconds.

After the first lap, Hagen settled into the race, and she continued to lead Ritzenhein and Alessandrini around the track. 

At the halfway point, Hagen was at 5:25.64. From there, she really started pressing on the gas pedal in hopes of dropping Ritzenhein and Alessandrini. With laps of 1:17.59 and 1:15.70, Hagen was successful in breaking free from Alessandrini, but Ritzenhein — the daughter of former professional runner Dathan Ritzenhein — continued to hang tough. 

With two laps to go, Hagen grew even more serious, flinging her sunglasses to the side of the track and using her arms to quicken the pace. Ritzenhein continued to follow Hagen. With a lap to go, the two Colorado standouts engaged in an all-out battle to the finish line.

Cody Jones/Summit Daily News
Ella Hagen flings off her shades during the 4A girls 3200-meter run at Day 1 of the Colorado state track and field meet on Thursday, May 18.
Cody Jones/Summit Daily News

After leading the entirety of the race, Hagen kicked as hard as she could in an attempt to hold off Ritzenhein. It looked as if Hagen would be successful with about 300 meters to go, but Ritzenhein found another gear with around 150 meters left and sprinted past Hagen.

Hagen finished in 10:32.23 for second place, while Ritzenhein finished two seconds in front of her (10:30.05).

“I knew that if I wanted to put myself in contention that I had to take it out fast and really just work it,” Hagen said. “I did not quite anticipate leading the whole thing like that, but I knew it had to go out fast, and I had to really grind the pace down during the sixth, seventh and eighth laps. That is what I did.”

Now with a third- and second-place finish in the event at state, Hagen could not be more proud of how she has performed in the span of two seasons.

“It is really amazing,” Hagen said. “The atmosphere of this meet is unlike any other. To know that I can put myself out there and really just show what it looks like to be training in Summit — it really makes me happy. I am really happy with the second-place finish, and next year we can make it a trio maybe.”

Cody Jones/Summit Daily News
Ella Hagen, left, and Addison Ritzenhein embrace one another on the awards podium after the 3,200-meter run on Thursday, May 18.
Cody Jones/Summit Daily News

Unlike the girls 3,200-meter run, the boys 3,200-meter run was a more conservative and calculated race. The race went out nearly two seconds behind the girls race with a first-lap time of 1:15.25. With a mellow start, senior Dom Remeikis and sophomore Josh Shriver easily put themselves in the lead pack. 

The race continued to hover around 5-minute-mile pace until the halfway mark when the pacemakers started to dial down the pace. The quickening speed started to spread out the field, but Remeikis and Shriver attempted to stay attached to the main pack. 

In the end, the pace up front was too much for Remeikis and Shriver, but the two Tigers still notched impressive finishes. Remeikis placed 12th in a time of 9:43.48, and Shriver placed 17th with a time of 10:29.18.

Cody Jones/Summit Daily News
Dom Remeikis sprints to the finish line in the 4A boys 3200-meter run at Day 1 of the Colorado State Track And Field Championships on Thursday, May 18. Remeikis placed 12th overall in a time of 9:43.48.
Cody Jones/Summit Daily News

Battle Mountain High School’s Will Brunner won the event with a time of 9:26.76.

Nearly 90 minutes after giving it their all in the 3,200-meter run, Hagen, Remeikis and Shriver returned to the track for the 4×800-meter relays. 

Remeikis started the race for the Summit boys relay team and dropped a split of 1:56.82 to be in second place heading into Shriver’s leg of the race.

Summit dropped to ninth place during the relay legs of Shriver and freshman Carter Niemkiewicz before sophomore Will Bentley was able to bring the race home with a split of 1:59.78.

Summit jumped two places from its seeding to 10th place with a time of 8:10.50. It was enough to break the school record set in 1992. Niwot High School won the race with a time of 7:53.31.

Cody Jones/Summit Daily News
The Summit boys 4×800-meter relay team huddle together after breaking the school record in the event and finishing in 10th place.
Cody Jones/Summit Daily News

The boys 4×800 relay was quickly followed by a young Summit girls 4×800 team that was looking to improve upon its 10th-place ranking heading into the event.

Freshman Lauren McCalla carried the team over the first leg, splitting 2:20.01 before handing the baton while in third place to sophomore Avery Eytel. Eytel and freshman Faith Fox kept the pace consistent, which gave way to the team being in fifth place before Hagen took over on the final leg.

With a split of 2:22.17, Hagen was able to jump to third place and crossed the finish line in a time of 9:40.73, breaking the 2015 school record by more than 10 seconds.

“I felt amazing,” McCalla said. “I am so proud of our abilities. I think we are just waiting for our success to keep on rising.”

Not only was the finish exciting for all four Summit runners, but it also points to the relay team’s potential over the next few years.

“We went out there, and we crushed it,” Hagen said. “We didn’t know what we could do, but I think we showed that Summit is on the rise. There are two sophomores and two freshman standing here. We will be back on that podium. Don’t worry.”

Cody Jones/Summit Daily News
The Summit girls 4×800-meter relay team poses for a photo after placing third in the 4A girls 4×800-meter relay on Thursday, May 18.
Cody Jones/Summit Daily News

Prior to the 4×800 relays, Fox competed in the prelims for the 100-meter hurdles. She looked strong and smooth over the hurdles, which led to a new personal-best time in the event, clocking 16.48 seconds.

Despite dropping 0.35 seconds from her previous best time, it was not enough for Fox to advance to the nine-girl final on Saturday. Fox finished in 10th place in prelims, 0.06 seconds shy of advancing to the final. 

Summit will resume action on Friday when Fox competes in the 300-meter hurdles prelims and Remeikis and McCalla compete in the 800-meter run final. The day will conclude with the Summit girls competing in the 4×400-meter relay prelims. 

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