The 2011 Colorado High School Association 2A state track and field championships is something that Dolores graduating seniors Cortney Brunner and Alex Bernholtz will always remember.
Last weekend in Lakewood, Bernholtz came in as the San Juan Basin League champion in the 110- and 300-meter hurdles. Battling sickness in the wind and rain, Bernholtz took fourth place in the 110-hurdles. As the day went along, he began to feel healthier going into the 300-hurdles.
Once you get to the start line, everything just kind of goes away, Bernholtz said. During the race, its the same as any other race. Only at state, obviously, you got a bit more drive. You got more competition to push you.
Bernholtz wasnt quite expecting to finish first in the 300-hurdles, and things didnt really sink in until after he crossed the finish line and it became official.
I saw the kid (Logan Merrill of Akron) that was in first most the race out of the corner of my eye when I crossed. I wasnt sure if I finished first, he said.
Bernholtz finished in a time of 40.38 and Merrill was second at 40.78. In the final 100 meters Bernholtz knew he could win, and he did.
Waiting to stand up on the podium, it just kind of subsided in, OK. I won, Bernholtz said. It was nothing special. But then once you get up on the podium and youre up on the stand higher than everyone else, when they announce you a state champion, I dont really know how to describe the feeling, but its pretty awesome.
Brunner reclaimed her place among the states elite by repeating as state champion in the girls 4 x 100-meter relay with sophomore teammates Lexi Atkinson, Cassie Lard and Mindy McCracken. Not only did Dolores repeat as state champions in the girls 4 x 100, it tied the state record time of 50.37 while setting a school record. With three of the four pieces of the puzzle returning next year, the Lady Bears are confident they can claim a three-peat.
I definitely think that we can, McCracken said about winning the 2012 4 x 100 state title. Only losing one of us, I think that well be able to pick back up from where we left off. We have all four of us in the 4 x 200 coming back. Our 4 x 400, I think will be hard. But if we train hard enough and if we put enough effort in, I think well be able to place higher in that.
Brunner and Alex Willis are the only graduating Lady Bears, so the cupboard is stocked for next season.
I definitely want to get higher placing in the 4 x 200 next year. I think we also have the potential to win that, Lard said. I just think its really sweet that were such a small school, and then we get up to state and they recognize us, that were actually a good team.
With the youth and continued improvement of Dolores track and field, coach Nick Kohler expects his program to keep getting stronger.
Potentially, next year we should be even better in all our sprints than we were this year. The core is there. It should just keep getting better, he said. Hopefully, well have a little bit better weather for training next year. That kind of kept us behind, until the very end of the year. But it did everybody else as well. It was fun. We didnt lose that many seniors.
For the Bears, Brian Grubbs, Ethan Schwartz, Joel Balderrama and Michael Neubert are graduating along with Bernholtz.
Alex Bernholtz youre not going to replace him. It will take a few years, and someone just to grow into it. They (the Bears) are young. Thats good, Kohler said. Guys are different than girls. Girls, you can get production at the state level out of them as freshmen or sophomores. Guys, its generally their junior or senior year. The guys will be good. As a team, well be better next year.
Bernholtz will attend Mesa State College in Grand Junction in the fall and wants to go into nursing. Brunner will go to the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs in the fall and is leaning toward studying health and nutrition.
Reach Bobby Abplanalp at email@example.com.