Aurora’s excellence in girls track continued this season, as a trio of state champions and a slew of other podium performers at the Class 5A/4A state meet earned spots on Sentinel Colorado’s 2019 All-Aurora Girls Track Team based on results from the May 16-18 meet at Jeffco Stadium.
The only shared All-Aurora spot is in the high jump, where the city had two classification state champions in Grandview’s Alisha Davis (5A) and Vista PEAK’s Raina Branch (4A), while Aurora’s other state championship came in the 400 meters by Davis’ teammate, Lily Williams.
Williams pulled off a major upset when she defeated Denver East’s Arria Minor last season in the 400 at the state meet, but she had a title to defend this season. She saved her best performance for last as her time of 53.63 seconds in the championship final finished as the best time in Colorado regardless of classification and was more than four seconds better than the time that won her the Centennial League championship in the event a week earlier.
A newcomer to the 800 meters (in which she was also Centennial League champion), Williams gave Fairview’s Marlena Preigh a challenge all the way to the finish before coming across the finish line a scant 0.55 of a second behind to settle for runner-up status.
Davis added her first individual state championship to an athletic resume that included three team titles — two with the Grandview girls basketball team (2017 & 2018) and one with the track team in 2017 — when she outlasted Rock Canyon’s Riley Masten. Davis cleared 5 feet, 9 inches, which bettered her personal best mark of 5-8 at the Stutler Twilight Invitational, and tied Bayfield’s Jordan Lanning for the top height in the state regardless of classification.
Branch finished first in the high jump at all of her previous meets throughout the season and ended up as the state champion with a top successful height of 5-6, which she accomplished with fewer misses than Roosevelt’s Raquel Reese. Branch — who became the first Vista PEAK state champion since Maya Evans in 2016 and made the medal podium in all four of her events at state — did have 4A’s standard for the season with the 5-6 1/2 she recorded at the St. Vrain Invitational.
Williams and Davis were part of a large contingent on the All-Aurora team for coach John Reyes’ Grandview program that also includes senior Allyah Marlett (tops in the city in both the discus and shot put) and the 800 sprint medley relay team of Kameryn Brown, Melody Nwagwu, Amber Davis and Molly Skurcenski, while Amber Davis, Skurcenski, Williams and senior Kaitlyn Mercer were the city’s top 4×400 relay performer as well.
Marlett, a basketball standout like Alisha Davis and an Air Force recruit, won the Centennial League championship in the shot put with a season-best throw of 37 feet, 9 inches, then placed eighth at state with a best throw of 36-8 3/4. She also took the All-Aurora spot in the discus as the only Aurora state qualifier in the event. Her season-best effort came with a throw of 116-6 at the Doherty Spartan Invitational.
Though well behind winner Valor Christian (which won by nearly 10 full seconds), the Wolves’ 4×400 team finished as the state runner-up, while the sprint medley relay missed out on qualifying for the finals.
With the graduation of its four top point scorers, 2018 state champion Cherokee Trail wasn’t a major factor in the team race, but coach Chris Faust’s team had plenty of outstanding individual results.
Cameron McConnell’s freshman season saw her finish as the city’s best finisher in both the 1,600 and 3,200 meter runs, as well as contributing to the All-Aurora 4×800 meter relay team with sister Caitlin, Campbell Faust and Soonhee Han.
An All-State finisher in cross country in the fall, Cameron McConnell had 5A’s second-best time of the season in the 3,200 with the 10:50.96 she clocked at the state meet, which put her just over three seconds behind winner Taylor Whitfield of Valor Christian. In the 1,600, McConnell’s 5:00.25 was just over a second slower than the PR she set the previous week with a runner-up finish at the Centennial League Championship meet.
The Cougars’ 4×800 meter relay entertained thoughts of winning a state title for a portion of the race, but settled for third behind Valor Christian and Cherry Creek.
Smoky Hill had a trio of All-Aurora individuals (all seniors) in Amelia Johannes (300 meter hurdles) and Makiya Gayles (200 meters) — who combined with Sophia Cupp and Sarah Klatt on the city’s top 4×200 meter relay — along with pole vaulter Choying O’Brien.
State meet veteran Johannes saved her best 300 hurdles performance for the state meet when she ran a season-best time of 45.63 that left her one spot out of the finals. She also combined with Gayles, Cupp and Klatt on a 4×200 relay that had the third-fastest time in prelims and jumped over Mountain Vista into second in the final behind runaway winner Valor Christian.
Gayles topped a handful of Aurora state qualifiers for the 200 meters and she became the only local to record a top-nine time to advance to the finals. Gayles crossed the finish line just under a second behind her season-best time of 25.08 that landed her the Centennial League championship in the event a week before state.
Another Smoky Hill Centennial League champion, O’Brien, finished in the top 10 at the state meet for the third time in as many trips to the competition. Her personal best height of 11 feet, 3 inches, officially earned her fourth place.
Dawnielle Lewis’ return to the Rangeview team from injury resulted in an All-Aurora spot in the 100 meters in her senior year. The University of Northern Colorado recruit — who missed the state meet in 2018 — never was full satisfied with her performances throughout the season, but she ran a season-best time of 12.01 in the finals to finish fifth.
Junior Ayana Brown also represents the Raiders on the All-Aurora team in the long jump. With a season-best jump of 18 feet, 5 3/4 inches — which she bettered with an 18-8 1/2 at the Great Southwest Classic after the season — Brown finished in a solid fourth place.
Overland 100 meter hurdles standout Zeaniah Wedgeworth earned an individual spot on the All-Aurora team, while she combined with junior Aaliyah Thompson, freshman Syria Huerta and junior Arieona Anderson on the city’s premier 4×100 meter relay.
As a sophomore, Wedgeworth finished third in a finals that was headed by Valor Christian standout and George recruit Anna Hall and her season-best time of 14.44 seconds brought her just 0.01 behind Jasmine Charles of Liberty with a time that ranked her fourth in the state regardless of classification and third in 5A.
The Trailblazers’ senior-less 4×100 relay team ran a prelim time that was just 0.18 of a second behind Denver East, but the Angels widened the margin to 0.89 of a second in the finals in which the teams also finished 1-2.
Regis Jesuit senior triple jumper Hailey Harris put her program on the All-Aurora team.
While she didn’t have the top jump for an Aurora athlete on the season — Grandview’s Melody Nwagwu had that distinction with a leap of 37 feet, 2 1/4 inches at the Legend Track Clash — she topped Nwagwu by more than six inches in the state finals with an eighth-place jump of 35-3 3/4.
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports
2019 SENTINEL COLORADO ALL-AURORA GIRLS TRACK TEAM
800 sprint medley relay — Grandview (Kameryn Brown, Melody Nwagwu, Amber Davis, Molly Skurcenski); 4×800 meter relay — Cherokee Trail (Cameron McConnell, Campbell Faust, Soonhee Han, Caitlin McConnell); 100 meter hurdles — Zeanaiah Wedgeworth, soph., Overland; 100 meter dash — Dawnielle Lewis, sr., Rangeview; 4×200 meter relay — Smoky Hill (Makiya Gayles, Sophia Cupp, Sarah Klatt, Amelia Johannes); 1,600 meter run — Cameron McConnell, fr., Cherokee Trail; 4×100 meter relay — Overland (Aaliyah Thompson, Zeaniah Wedgeworth, Syria Huerta, Arieona Anderson); 400 meter dash — Lily Williams, jr., Grandview; 300 meter hurdles — Amelia Johannes, sr., Smoky Hill; 800 meter run — Lily Williams, jr., Grandview; 200 meter dash — Makiya Gayles, sr., Smoky Hill; 3,200 meter run — Cameron McConnell, fr., Cherokee Trail; 4×400 meter relay — Grandview (Amber Davis, Molly Skurcenski, Kaitlyn Mercer, Lily Williams); Long jump — Ayana Brown, jr., Rangeview; High jump — Raina Branch, jr., Vista PEAK & Alisha Davis, sr., Grandview; Pole vault — Choying O’Brien, sr., Smoky Hill; Triple jump — Hailey Harris, sr., Regis Jesuit; Discus — Allyah Marlett, sr., Grandview; Shot put — Allyah Marlett, sr., Grandview
Honorable mention: Raina Branch, Vista PEAK, jr. (4A 200 meters); Kameryn Brown, Grandview, jr. (100 meter hurdles); Mikayla Jones, Vista PEAK, jr. (high jump); Cameron McConnell, Cherokee Trail, fr. (800 meters); Caitlin McConnell, Cherokee Trail, sr. (3,200 meters); Kaitlyn Mercer, Grandview, sr. (400 meters/80 meters); Charolotte Meskiman, Eaglecrest, jr. (high jump); Melody Nwagwu, Grandview, soph. (triple jump); RELAYS: Grandview (Clara Tuti, Melody Nwagwu, Kameryn Brown, Lily Williams), 4×100 meter relay; Rangeview (Ayana Brown, Jaedyn Martin, Jasmine Bowman, Dawnielle Lewis), 4×100 meter relay; Vista PEAK (Lainey Morris, Mikayla Jones, Kaya Evans, Raina Branch), 4×200 meter relay; Smoky Hill (Sarah Klatt, Sophia Cupp, Jazlyn Lindsey, Amelia Johannes), 4×400 meter relay