In just his fifth career 3,200-meter race, Connor McCormick was more than good enough for gold.
The Longmont senior and Princeton commit outpaced the pack to win the Class 4A title in a highly technical race at Jeffco Stadium that featured numerous lead changes and a pivotal final lap by McCormick. He won in 9 minutes, 3.83 seconds, 21 seconds better than his personal best and a classification record for the state meet.
“I knew I was going to make a move with 300 (meters) left if I could just continue to have enough kick, and I did,” McCormick said. “It was a super deep race, and I was comfortable being at the back of the front pack for most of the race because I knew there wasn’t going to be much separation.”
McCormick bested the Cheyenne Mountain tandem of Tyler Nord (9:05.42) and Erik Le Roux (9:05.65), both of whom also broke the 4A meet record, while Niwot senior and Stanford commit Zane Bergen finished fourth (9:08.60). McCormick hovered around fifth or sixth for much of the race before breaking away in the final lap, and said he “never looked at the clock.”
After finishing runner-up three times at last year’s state meet in the 4×800-meter relay, the 800 and the 1,600, McCormick wasn’t done getting on the podium. He was runner-up in the 800 again Saturday night, losing to Bergen, and McCormick can try to win a second title in the 1,600 at 11:20 a.m. Sunday. Longmont was also runner-up in Thursday’s 4×800-meter race for which McCormick was the anchor.
For that reason, McCormick was grateful for the unusual off-day at the state meet caused by the snow.
“The day break was good, because after running the 4×800 on Thursday, it gave me an extra day to get my legs under me,” he said.
Championship in Year 1. Colorado Spring Christian’s Elle Stevens turned in a time of 11:25.03 to win the Class 2A girls 3,200 title, holding off Peyton’s Eowyn Dalbec (11:31.35) when Stevens distanced herself from Dalbec over the last half-lap.
Stevens’ championship is made more impressive by the fact she just started running track this year, after spending four years as a standout on the Lions’ cross-country team.
“I just did cross-country freshman through my senior year, and my coach finally convinced me to do track,” Stevens said. “I just listened to and trusted my coaches all season long and that’s what led me here.”
Stevens will compete in both sports at the University of Alaska-Anchorage next year. The 3,200 marked her second title of the weekend, as she also ran the second leg in Colorado Springs Christian’s victorious 4×800 relay team Thursday.
“That was really nerve-wracking,” Stevens said of the finish to the 3,200. “I saw (Dalbec) next to me, I heard her next to me. I realized at the 200 (meter) mark that I had to leave everything out there and give everything I had.”
On Saturday night, Stevens also took second placed in the 800 to Cedaredge’s Jessica Black. Stevens can earn the Lions more points in the 1,600 on Sunday.
Graduates recognized. The postponement to the state meet caused by the weather has, in turn, forced some senior athletes to miss their graduation ceremonies Sunday with their respective schools. (This is often the case when the meet runs on Saturday as well.) Because of that, CHSAA will honor 2022 graduates at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday’s final day of the meet in Lakewood.
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