AURORA | City teams and athletes won a combined four team championships and 12 individual events in the final weeks of the 2016 spring prep sports season. Here’s a look at one of Aurora’s individual state event winners in Hinkley junior Darrien Wells, the Class 5A boys 400 meter dash state champion:
Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel
HINKLEY’S DARRIEN WELLS: 5A BOYS 400 METER DASH STATE CHAMPION
Eagerly looking forward to his first trip to the Class 5A state track meet, Hinkley junior Darrien Wells made the most of his opportunities at the May 19-21 state meet at Jefferson County Stadium. The transfer — who spent his first year at Overland as a jumper and missed his sophomore year after he was struck by a car — placed in all four events he competed in to help coach Chris Carhart’s Thunderbirds finish an Aurora-best third in the 5A boys state standings, but his state championship performance in the 400 meter dash stood out. To Carhart’s knowledge, no Hinkley athlete or relay team — boy or girl — had won a state championship since Stephanie Duff won the 4A girls 100 meter dash and 100 meter hurdles title in 1998, but Wells ended the drought with his victory in the 400 meter dash, an even he came into state as the No. 1 seed. He overcame another Aurora standout — Overland sophomore Cameron Murray — around the final curve and drove hard to the finish line to win in a time of 48.05 seconds, which ranks as the fastest in 5A in 2016 and third overall in the state behind two 4A performers, state champion Calob O’Jennes of Palmer Ridge (46.71 seconds) and runner-up Nick Chappee of Air Academy (47.88). Wells is the second straight athlete from an Aurora Public Schools program to win the 400 meters, following Gateway’s Mike Ware last season. His championship in the event he calls a “mental race” kicked off a day in which Wells finished in the top eight of the other two sprint events (100 and 200) and helped the Thunderbirds’ 4×400 meter relay team (which also included 300 meter hurdles state champion Angel Heredia along with Sean Carey and Oscar Sarabia) get on the podium in eighth place as Hinkley capped a memorable season that included winning the EMAC championship.