State track Day 1 Notebook: Frontier Academy’s Hannah Ellis tops podium in 3A girls 3,200 to complete impressive comeback | MyWindsorNow.com

State track Day 1 Notebook: Frontier Academy’s Hannah Ellis tops podium in 3A girls 3,200 to complete impressive comeback

Bobby Fernandez
and Chris Bolin
bfernandez@greeleytribune.com

A year ago, Frontier Academy senior Hannah Ellis' participation in the Class 3A Track and Field Championship was severely limited because of a stress reaction in her right tibia.

On Thursday at Jefferson County Stadium, she was stress-free — physically and mentally.

Ellis was calm, composed and in control throughout the entirety of her championship performance in the girls 3,200-meter run.

She led from beginning to end, building a modest lead for the first few laps before building a sizable lead in the latter laps, finishing in 11 minutes, 19.39 seconds. Rifle senior Sarah Wagler was a distant second at 11:34.90.

Even though Ellis was the top seed coming into the race, with a seed time of 11:05.63, she admitted she wasn't necessarily expecting to top the podium Thursday.

"Definitely going into this year, I wasn't expecting it," Ellis said. "It's just, the entire team and the coaches were so encouraging. They just believed in me. And, it's just cool to see what you can do when people believe in you."

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Largely behind Ellis' performance, Frontier Academy sits in third in the early team race with 15.5 points, just 1.5 points behind first-place Classical Academy.

It's easy to see why Ellis wasn't really expecting to win a state title Thursday. How could she know what to expect?

She was a full two years removed from running in distance races in a state meet environment, finishing 14th in the 1,600 and 3,200 as a sophomore in 2016.

A year ago, the only state meet action she saw was as the anchor for the Wolverines' sixth-place 3,200-meter relay team. She opted to withdraw from the 1,600 and 3,200 because of the severity of her injury and the potential of doing more harm to herself.

"It was definitely really rough last year," she said. "I wondered a lot if I had made the right decision or if I should have just pushed through and gone for it. But, this year, it's given me a lot more motivation — not wanting to go back to that place."

At times, it even hurt to walk, as she battled through the injury.

By the last few weeks of the cross country season, though, she finally felt like her old self again.

Ellis placed fifth in the 3A state cross country meet in October in Colorado Springs.

She'll contend for another title in the 1,600 at 4:05 p.m. Saturday, seeded third in the event.

Still, as she prepares to study nursing and run for the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs next school year, having assured herself at least one individual state title is the perfect way for her to cap her high school career, especially considering how much she's overcome in the past year.

"One of my coaches said to me in the summer, to paraphrase: Adversity adds to your story and makes it a lot more beautiful and a lot more powerful than if there is no adversity at all," Ellis said.

Wolverines running wild

Ellis wasn't the only Frontier Academy athlete to excel Thursday.

The Wolverines' squad of junior Jesse Hayward, senior Brenden Worley, senior David Garcia and senior Levi Chambers placed second in the 3A boys 3,200 relay, missing out on a state title by a narrow margin.

They finished in 8:03.10, just behind Skyview Academy (8:01.99).

Hurrying through hurdles

Roosevelt senior Angelo Hurtado perfectly lived up to his No. 2 seed in 4A boys 110-meter hurdles.

In Thursday's prelims, he finished second with a time of 14.62 seconds, behind Northfield junior Zaire Jackson (14.48).

Windsor senior Brett Freitag was seventh (15.06) to also punch his ticket to the 110 hurdles finals at 9:50 a.m. Saturday.

Long-distance relay

Greeley Central's quartet of junior Simon Kelati, senior Arturo Toro, junior Ramon Villalobos and senior Angelo Abundis placed fifth in the 4A boys 3,200 relay with a time of 7:59.70.

Mead won the event with a time of 7:55.55.

Short-distance relay

The Platte Valley quartet of junior Brendan Bunting, senior Garret Mix, senior Sebastian Zehnder and senior Kaleb Johnson placed first in 3A boys 800 relay prelims with a time of 1:28.58, just ahead of Lutheran's time of 1:28.63.

The finals for that event are at 2:10 p.m. today.

Johnson also had a top 3 finish in the prelims of the 3A boys 200 with a time of 22.34, behind the Kent Denver senior duo of Seven Lindsey (21.97) and Ryan Hogan (22.26).

Runnin' Remi

Highland's standout sophomore Remington Ross got off to an ideal start to a meet in which she will be in close contention for multiple 2A titles.

In the girls 100 prelims, she placed first with a time of 12.09 seconds, which is close to a state meet record (12.05), set by Lyons' Rachel Hinker in 2011. She is the defending state champion in the event.

In the 200, she was first in prelims with a time of 25.17, ahead of Holyoke sophomore Taeryn Trumper (25.70).

The finals for both events are Saturday, with the 100 being at 10:37 a.m. and the 200 being at 1:18 p.m.

She also is a top contender in long jump, which takes place at 11 this morning. She is seeded second (16' 10.5") behind Holyoke sophomore Taeryn Trumper (18' 2").

McQuat McFlies

Windsor's Koryn McQuat capped off her state track career with a runner-up finish in the 4A triple jump.

On her second to last attempt, she jumped 35' 5.25" to take home silver.

After a pair of events Thursday, she has all the points for the Wizard girls.

Ramirez Takes Off

While most of the action was happening in the 2A high jump, Frontier Academy's Izzy Ramirez made a splash of her own in the 3A contest.

The junior jumped 5' 2" to take home a fourth-place finish — improving four inches and four positions on her top state performance two years ago.

Runnin' Rebel

Weld Central's Jonathan Rodriguez also sits nicely heading into the finals, finishing the 400 prelims in 49.16 seconds to sit third.

He has some work to do if he wants to improve on his finish from last year. As a junior, he finished second with a time of 48.9 seconds.

He also qualified for the finals of the 400, and is seeded seventh.

Johnson's Hot Start

Kaleb Johnson started his meet off nicely, moving up four spots from his qualifying position in the 200-meter dash to sit third after prelims.

He also added a fifth-place finish in the 100 prelims.

He didn't qualify for finals in either event last year.