It was a golden first day of the state track and field meet on Thursday for Bayfield High School Conner Kennedy.
The 6-foot-3 senior set the tone for the rest of the meet for the Wolverines with a long jump of 23-feet on his first jump Thursday at Jefferson County Stadium in Lakewood. The jump was 1.25 inches off the state meet record, set by La Junta's Josiah Baker.
Though it wasn't a new state meet record, it was good enough for first place in the event. Salida's Gallian Roberts was second with a jump of 22-3.5.
"It was the most exciting moment of my life, by far," Kennedy said in a phone interview with The Durango Herald. "I was super pumped up, and being so close to the state record felt great.
"I love my coaches and everything they did to help me get here. This is an amazing experience."
Kennedy, the son of Kelly and Tiffany Kennedy, now has his eyes set on making it two first-place finishes in a row, as he will compete in the high jump Friday.
"All of my nerves are gone now. I'm still pumped and ready to go," he said.
Kennedy helped send the Wolverines to third place as a team after the first of three days in Lakewood. BHS has 15 points, and Platte Valley is first with 22. Alamosa is ahead of Bayfield with 16 points.
"That was massively special," BHS co-head coach Gary Heide said of Kennedy's jump. "Everybody was cheering because nobody could believe it, even the other competitors."
Aubry Brown helped BHS score points with a sixth-place finish in the shot put with a throw of 47-11. Parker Joens of Platte Valley won the shot put at 51-6.25. Brown is the favorite to win the discus throw Friday.
Bayfield's Blane Barnes was ninth in the shot put at 45-4.5.
"We have some strong events coming (Friday), too," Heide said. "A couple of guys will have to make up some ground here and there, but we think we can do it."
Bayfield's girls team is in eighth place after one day. Jessie Roukema scored the team's only five points with a fifth-place result in the high jump. She cleared 5-2.5.
Eaton leads the 3A girls team scores with 15 points.
Durango High School
Senior Justin Marcum missed out on a first-place finish in the Class 4A pole vault state championship. He cleared 14 feet, 4 inches and finished second to Kyle Rex of Palmer Ridge. Rex cleared 15 feet.
On the girls side, the Demons scored six points. Alli Davis took fifth in the long jump with a leap of 17-2.25. Miranda Gallegos scored one point for DHS in the event, finishing ninth after a jump of 16-9.75.