Building over the past few years, the Cherokee Trail girls track team finally exploded at this season’s Class 5A state track meet.
The Cougars put all the pieces together on an impressive run to the first girls state track championship — and first in any girls sport in school history — with their performance May 14-16 at Jefferson County Stadium.
Between open events and relays, 11 Cherokee Trail athletes landed spots on the 2015 Aurora Sentinel All-City Girls Track Team, which is based primarily off the results from the state meet.
Chris Faust coached Cherokee Trail’s boys to state track championships in 2007 (4A) and 2013 (5A) and added a 5A crown for the girls team in his first season at the helm with an obvious boost from senior Shayna Yon, who contributed three individual state championships and one relay crown.
Yon, a Louisiana State signee, captured 5A crowns in the 100 and 200 meter dashes — though a showdown with Pine Creek star Alleandra Watt never materialized because of an injury to Watt — and finished the season with the top times in both events (11.65 seconds in the 100, 24.17 seconds in the 200) in Colorado, regardless of classification. She also won the long jump and teamed with juniors Symonne Holland and Haley Rogers and freshman Taylor Watson on the title-winning 4×100 meter relay.
Jumping events also played a huge part in the Cougars’ title — they captured seven top-seven places on the medal podium between the high jump, long jump and triple jump — and junior Amazing Ashby headlined that group. Ashby took up the triple jump this year and won the state championship in the event with a jump of 39 feet, 4 inches, which put her way out in front of the field at state and highlighted the three total places she earned at state.
Cherokee Trail posted Aurora-best finishes in three of the five relay events at state in the state champion 4×100 unit, the 4×200 meter relay of Holland, Rogers and fellow junior Anastacia Johnson plus freshman Sydnee Larkin and the 800 sprint medley team of junior Kelly Penney and freshmen Watson, Aumni Ashby and Minnie Harrison.
Junior Amy McConnell didn’t qualify for state, but led Aurora runners in the 3,200 meter run with her time at the Centennial League Championships. Aurora also didn’t have a state qualifier in the 1,600 meter run, with Smoky Hill sophomore Emmah Johannes taking that All-City spot with her performance at the same Centennial League meet.
Aurora’s other state champion came from Vista PEAK, as the young school had its first state winner in freshman phenom Maya Evans.
Evans easily soared to the 4A state championship in the long jump, winning the event by a foot and a half over Fort Morgan’s Madalyn Brashears, who bested her a week before state at the Colorado 7 Championships, while she also placed top-four in 4A in both sprint events.
In the long jump, Evans found her groove quickly in her debut season and jumped over 19 feet nearly every meet throughout the season. She popped a jump of 19-9 1/4 inches to win state, then topped herself a few weeks later with a mark of 20-8 1/2 at the Great Southwest Meet in New Mexico. Evans has designs on taking down the 4A state meet record of 20-3 and Colorado prep record of 21-3/4 in the future.
Grandview’s girls tied for 10th place as a team, led by the runner-up performance of the 4×400 relay team of seniors Sylvana Ross and Nicole Mundy and sophomores Kennede Brown and Michaela Onyenwere. The Wolves finished well behind winner Fort Collins, but topped Cherokee Trail by more than a second.
Onyenwere, Colorado’s Gatorade Player of the Year for the 2014-15 girls basketball season, also finished second to Yon in the 100 and fourth in the 200.
Smoky Hill’s 22nd-place team finish was fueled by three All-City performances from senior Brynell Yount and success in some field events and the 4×800 meter relay. Yount — whose twin brother Blake set the Colorado state record in the 5A boys 800 — topped Aurora athletes with her fifth-place result in the 400 meters and held off teammate Jamie Jezier for the city’s top spot in the 800 meters in 12th.
Yount and Jezier combined with sophomores Johannes and Julie Eoff on Smoky Hill’s 4×800 meter relay team that finished sixth. Senior Melanie Vasina was the only Aurora athlete to qualify for state in the girls pole vault and she made the most of her trip by clearing 10 feet, 6 inches, to place fifth, while senior Ann Mahnke finished 11th in the 5A girls discus and came up just two feet short of making the medal podium.
Another freshman, Regis Jesuit’s Kylie Davis, led Aurora in both the 100 and 300 meter hurdles by placing 7th and 8th, respectively, in the events. Davis’ time of 45.11 seconds in the 300 hurdles at state stands as a school record, as does the 15.01 she clocked at the Liberty Bell Invitational.
Senior Kellyn Toole capped an outstanding prep athletic career with her fourth-place finish in the high jump, in which she cleared 5-3.
Hinkley sophomore Aillure Sharp threw the shot put 33 feet, 5 1/4 inches to lead Aurora throwers at state as she finished 13th.
Courtney Oakes is Sports Editor of the Aurora Sentinel. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel
2015 AURORA SENTINEL ALL-CITY GIRLS TRACK TEAM
100, 200 meters: Shayna Yon, Cherokee Trail, sr.*; 400 & 800 meters: Brynell Yount, Smoky Hill, sr.; 1,600 meters: Emmah Johannes, Smoky Hill, soph.; 3,200 meters: Amy McConnell, Cherokee Trail, jr.; 100, 300 meter hurdles: Kylie Davis, Regis Jesuit, fr.; 4×100 meter relay: Cherokee Trail (Shayna Yon, Symonne Holland, Taylor Watson, Haley Rogers)*; 4×200 meter relay: Cherokee Trail (Haley Rogers, Symonne Holland, Sydnee Larkin, Anastacia Johnson); 4×400 meter relay: Grandview (Sylvana Ross, Kennede Brown, Nicole Mundy, Michaela Onyenwere); 4×800 meter relay: Smoky Hill (Emmah Johannes, Julie Eoff, Jamie Jezier, Brynell Yount); 800 sprint medley relay: Cherokee Trail (Aumni Ashby, Taylor Watson, Kelly Penney, Minnie Harrison); High jump: Kellyn Toole, Regis Jesuit, sr.; Long jump: Maya Evans, Vista PEAK, fr.*; Triple jump: Amazing Ashby, Cherokee Trail, jr.*; Pole vault: Melanie Vasina, Smoky Hill, sr.; Discus: Ann Mahnke, Smoky Hill, sr.; Shot put: Aillure Sharp, Hinkley, soph.
* — State champion
Amazing Ashby, Cherokee Trail, jr. (100 meter hurdles); Aumni Ashby, Cherokee Trail, fr. (triple jump); Maya Evans, Vista PEAK, fr. (100 meters/200 meters); Anastacia Johnson, Cherokee Trail, jr. (high jump); Sydnee Larkin, Cherokee Trail, fr. (long jump/triple jump); Michaela Onyenwere, Grandview, soph. (100 meters/200 meters); Haley Rogers, Cherokee Trail, jr. (100 meters/200 meters); Sylvana Ross, Grandview, sr. (400 meters); Shayna Yon, Cherokee Trail, sr. (long jump); Relays: Grandview 4×100 meter relay; Grandview 4×200 meter relay, Cherokee Trail 4×400 meter relay