We are the (Aurora) champions: Hinkley’s Angel Heredia (5A boys 300 meter hurdles)

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Hinkley junior Angel Heredia gives a thumbs up after winning the Class 5A boys 300 meter hurdles state championship at the 5A state track meet on May 20, 2017, at Jeffco Stadium. Heredia topped a field of challenges that included teammate Oscar Sarabia to win another state title in the event. (Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel)

AURORA | City teams and athletes won one team state championship and 11 individual titles during the final weeks of the 2017 spring prep sports season. Here’s an in-depth look at Hinkley junior Angel Heredia, the Class 5A boys 300 meter hurdles state champion:

Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel

HINKLEY’S ANGEL HEREDIA: 5A BOYS 300 METER HURDLES STATE CHAMP

Hinkley junior Angel Heredia is a back-to-back Class 5A state champion in the boys 300 meter hurdles. He intends to extend his reign next season. (Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel)

Angel Heredia found out that it’s more difficult to defend a state championship at the Class 5A state track meet than it is to win one for the first time. The Hinkley junior earned his way on the top of the medal podium in 2016 in the boys 300 meter hurdles and came into 2017 intent on getting back there again. Heredia found a lot of competition in his way, including internally from longtime friend and teammate Oscar Sarabia, who had long measured his progress against Heredia. The gap between the two tightened this season as Sarabia used the same training from Thunderbirds’ hurdles coach Francisco Padilla — a Hinkley alum — plus tips from Heredia to run a time under 40 seconds. Besides pushing each other, the duo also helped cultivated the growth of a number of young up-and-coming hurdlers, which prompted coach Chris Carhart to dub his school “Hurdle High.”

The bad weather that forced the condensing of the 5A state meet from three days down to two at Jeffco Stadium removed prelim races from the equation, a relief for Heredia given he was entered in the 110 and 300 meter hurdles, the 400 meters and the 4×200 meter relay. His warmup for the 300 hurdles race came in the 4×200 relay, when he won a state championship along with senior Darrien Wells, Sarabia and fellow junior Casey Sharpe.

Hinkley junior Angel Heredia, left, finished just 0.12 of a second ahead of Cherokee Trail senior Kellen Monestime, right, to win the Class 5A boys 300 meter hurdles state title. (Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel)

In his heat of the 300 hurdles, Heredia ran head-to-head against another Aurora standout — Cherokee Trail senior Kellen Monestime — who had the top time of the season coming in with the 37.93 seconds he ran to win the Centennial League championship a week before state. Heredia came in with a best time of 38.14 set at the Mullen Invitational on April 8, but he shaved 0.11 of a second off that in his state race as he crossed the finish line in 38.03 with Monestime just behind in 38.15. Sarabia gave Aurora a third placer when he took eighth, while another Aurora contender, Regis Jesuit’s Jason Lewis — who ran a 38.24 during the season — likely would have made the medal podium had he not scratched out of the race due to injury.

Heredia vows that next season the race won’t be as close as he goes for a three-peat. In addition to his individual and relay state titles, Heredia also finished an Aurora-best third in the 110 meter hurdles and sixth in the 400 meters, which was won by Wells, all of which helped the Thunderbirds finish third in the 5A boys team standings for a second straight season.

MORE WE ARE THE (AURORA) CHAMPIONS

We are the (Aurora) champions: Grandview girls track team (5A state track)

We are the (Aurora) champions: Grandview’s Brie Oakley (5A girls 3,200 meters)

We are the (Aurora) champions: Cherokee Trail’s Sydnee Larkin (5A girls triple jump)

We are the (Aurora) champions: Hinkley’s Darrien Wells (5A boys 400 meters)

We are the (Aurora) champions: Grandview’s Kylee Harr (5A girls high jump)

We are the (Aurora) champions: Cherokee Trail’s Jaiden Paris, Taylor Watson, Chian DeLoach, Sydnee Larkin (5A girls 4×100 meter relay)

We are the (Aurora) champions: Grandview’s Kennede Brown, Kameryn Brown, Lily Williams and Michaela Onyenwere (5A girls 4×200 meter relay)

We are the (Aurora) champions: Hinkley’s Casey Sharpe, Oscar Sarabia, Angel Heredia and Darrien Wells (5A boys 4×200 meter relay)

We are the (Aurora) champions: Grandview’s Kylee Harr, Jordyn Moore, Kameryn Brown and Lily Williams (5A girls 800 meter sprint medley relay)

We are the (Aurora) champions: Grandview’s Lily Williams, Kaitlyn Mercer, Kennede Brown and Michaela Onyenwere (5A girls 4×400 meter relay)

We are the (Aurora) champions: Grandview’s Amy Chitkoksoong (5A girls golf)