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

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Hinkley senior Darrien Wells finds a different gear as he nears the finish line at the end of the boys 400 meter race at the Class 5A state track meet on May 21, 2017, at Jefferson County Stadium. Wells won his heat and the state championship in the event for the second straight season. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/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 senior Darrien Wells, the Class 5A boys state champion in the 400 meters:

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

Hinkley senior Darrien Wells appeared at the Class 5A state track meet twice in his career and came away with a total of three state championships in his individual events, including back-to-back titles in the 400 meters. (Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel)

HINKLEY’S DARRIEN WELLS: 5A BOYS 400 METER STATE CHAMPION

At a school that is fast becoming known as “Hurdle High,” senior Darrien Wells has given Hinkley a heavyweight presence in the sprinting events as well. The success in hurdles has been one of the keys to helping coach Chris Carhart’s Thunderbirds post back-to-back third-place finishes at the Class 5A state track meet in the past two seasons, but Wells — who said he’d leave the hurdling to others — has done a lot of heavy lifting both times as well. He was fractions of a second from winning the sprinters’ state triple crown of the 100, 200 and 400 meters, but instead came away with one individual title as he repeated as state champion in the 400.

The bad weather that forced the first scheduled day of the meet to be scrubbed admittedly threw Wells off in his mental preparation for competition, but the revised two-day format change worked to his benefit. Not a fan of running prelims and expending energy on them, Wells found he had just four races — in the three sprint events and in the 4×200 meter relay — to put his efforts into instead of eight. On the first day, he sacrificed his body with a dive over the finish line to bring the 4×200 state championship to himself and juniors Angel Heredia, Oscar Sarabia and Casey Sharpe and he came up just 0.3 of a second from victory in both the 100 and 200 meters as Fountain-Fort Carson’s Donovan Williams outleaned him both times as the two ran side-by-side to the finish line.

Hinkley senior Darrien Wells, right, gets a hug from teammate Angel Heredia after winning the 400 meters at the Class 5A state track meet on May 21, 2017, at Jeffco Stadium. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)

All of those things combined to make Wells even hungrier for his final event, the 400 meters. In a similar type of race as in 2016, Wells — still feeling the physical effects of his dive onto the track from the previous day — overtook Overland’s Cameron Murray down the stretch and powered across the finish line in 47.62 seconds, the top time in Colorado regardless of classification and a marked improvement over the 48.05 that brought him last season’s state crown.

Wells kept the 5A boys 400 meter state championship in the Aurora Public Schools district for the third straight season, as he has won the last two following the victory by Gateway’s Mike Ware in 2015.

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: Grandview’s Kylee Harr (5A girls high jump)

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

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)