Yuma boys won T&F title on silver anniversary of first one

Yuma High School’s boys track and field coaches and team members knew they had a shot at a state championship heading into last week’s Class 2A Track and Field Championships at Jefferson County Stadium in Lakewood.
The Indians certainly lived up to the expectations, and then some — scoring 76 points to easily outdistance second-place Lake County, which finished with 48.5.

“We knew we had a chance but I didn’t think we’d win by as much as we did,” head coach Lucas Lubbers said.
The team state championship came 25 years after the Yuma boys won the 3A title in 1996. Those are the only team track and field championships in YHS history.
The Tribe was powered by three individual championships, two third-place efforts, two other scoring efforts in open races, placing in three relays, and picking up more scoring in the field events.
Lubbers, a YHS graduate who won the 3A pole vault in 2007, technically is in his second season as head coach. His first was 2019, and of course last season was wiped out by COVID-19. He also has a veteran coaching staff that includes his father Jack, Jerry Lebsack, Jim Powell, and Kristin Metcalfe.
He said he thought he was fortunate in 2019 when he took over a loaded girls team that finished high at the state meet. However, he said he was not expecting a state championship entering 2021’s Season D.
There were only a few seniors on the boys team, along with a lot of talented younger athletes. It turns out the seniors were great leaders in setting the tone for putting in the work to succeed.
“We just had a good senior class,” Lubbers said. “They led by example, showing the underclassmen what it took to be competitive.
“It was great to see the progress throughout the season,” he said, “the way the younger guys learned what it took to compete.”
Two of the seniors/graduates were Kail Cooper and Braden Smith.
They played major roles in the Indians scoring points right away on Thursday.
“It was a pretty unique opportunity after what’s gone on the past year,” Cooper said of the Indians winning the title. “It was great to have something like that to bring everyone together.”

Senior/graduate Braden Smith picked the perfect time to set a personal best in the pole vault. (Dave Gustafson)

Smith got a personal best in the pole vault at just the right time, clearing 13-foot-1 to win the 2A pole vault. Cooper was close behind, clearing 12-2 to place third. Sophomore Nash Richardson added to the point total by placing eighth at 11-8. (Cooper also played a key role in three relays bringing home state ribbons.)
“I’ve been waiting for that all through high school,” Smith said. “It was just good to get it finally at the end of my senior year.”
He had set a personal best of 12-9 just one week earlier at the St. Vrain Invitational in Longmont, then took it three inches higher at state.
“I was struggling with the top end of my jump at the beginning of the (season),” Smith said. “It took me a whole month to gain three inches, and then I figured it out at the end of the year.”
Jaxson Lungwitz did his part on Thursday, as well, as the junior triple jumped 39-10.25 to place fifth.
Meanwhile, the groundwork was being laid for more points to come.
Beau Tate placed in both hurdle races at the 2A state meet. (Dave Gustafson)
Clay Robinson, who finished with two individual titles and a third place, sprinted to the top qualifying time in Thursday’s 100-meter prelim in 11.15 seconds. The junior doubled up later in the day in the 200-meter prelims, finishing with the top time of 22.25 seconds.
Beau Tate set up the Indians for more finals, placing fourth in the 110-meter hurdle prelims with a time of 16.66 seconds.
The 4-by-200 relay foursome of Javier Duran, Alex Lozano, Cooper and Daman Thornton also earned itself a finals berth by placing second with a time of 1:32.4.
Yuma was not in first place in the team points after Thursday as some schools such and Wiggins and Wray scored big in a few field events, but the Tribe had a lot of events left.
Friday began with the 4-by-100 team of Lozano, Tate, Cooper and Duran placed fifth in the morning’s prelim with a time of 45.15 seconds.
Tate was on the track later in the morning, placing fifth in the 300-meter hurdles prelim with a time of 42.31 seconds.
Yuma then scored some more points as Duran, Lozano, Cooper and Thornton ripped off a third-place finish in the 4-by-200 relay with a time of 1:32.57.
The Tribe earned itself another finals berth later in the day as the 4-by-400 foursome of Jesus Ross, Tate, Duran and Cooper placed second in the prelims with a time of 3:37.8.
Yuma finished the day in second place in the team standings with 30 points, but clearly had the inside track at the team championship with seven finals still to go on Saturday.
“Going into Saturday we knew we had plenty of events left, and most of the other teams near us did not have nearly as many events left,” Lubbers said. “That definitely was comforting.”
It did not take long for the Tribe to move into the lead.
Tate finished seventh in the 110 hurdles in 16.56 seconds.
That was followed by Robinson sprinting down the track to win the 100-meters in 11.17 seconds.
Clay Robinson won the 100 and 200 dashes at the 2A meet, last week, and has a chance to do it again next year. (Dave Gustafson)

Robinson also was busy with the long jump. He competed in the event just once during Season D, but did well enough to qualify for state as the 10th seed. He then pulled off a jump of 20-3 on Saturday to finish third in the event, just five inches off the winning leap.
“I wanted to win it,” he said.
Robinson went to the high jump right after winning the 100, and scratched his first two jumps. Therefore, he moved back on the board to make sure he had at least one qualifying effort — and still almost won it.
His busy schedule continued into the early afternoon.
Robinson ran to first place in the 200. His winning time of 22.17 seconds seemingly set a new 2A record. He had beat the record at the Platte Valley meet earlier this season, but it turns out it has to be done at the state meet to stand as a state record.

So there goes Robinson beating the state record again Saturday at the state meet. (The 2A record of 22.23 is held by Mark Carl set in 2009.) However, it was determined the time was wind-aided (the wind meter read 2.16), so Robinson did not get the record.
“It frustrated me because that was the only wind-aided time all day,” he said. “I should have a good shot at smashing it next year. I’m just pretty lucky with my speed, and very thankful not to be hurt.”
The victory still counted for 10 points, as the Indians started to pull away from the field.
Tate followed Robinson with a seventh-place finish in the 300 hurdles with a time of 42.44 seconds.
Then came the relays for the finishing touches.
Lozano, Tate, Cooper and Duran blazed around the track for a second-place finish in the 4-by-100 with a time of 45.04 seconds.
Senior/graduate Kail Cooper hands the baton to Javier Duran during the 4-by-100 relay at the 2A meet, last week. (Dave Gustafson)

The 4-by-400 team of Thornton, Tate, Duran and Cooper capped it off by placing fifth with a time of 3:36.56.
Besides Robinson’s three individual medals, including two titles, Cooper came home with four state ribbons (one individual and three relays) and Tate also had four (two individuals and two relays).
Cooper also noted that most of the season occurred after graduation and the end of the school year.
“People worked all day and then came to track practice, so it was nice to have all that hard work come together in the end,” he said.
While now is the time to savor the 2021 title, don’t be surprised if the Indians are back in the running in 2022.
“It’s pretty cool to bring that home after 25 years,” Robinson said. “Not many people pay attention to track so maybe this will help, especially knowing we could do it again next year. That would be pretty cool to do it twice in a row after going so long (between titles).”