With three-fourths of the Bulldogs' state qualifying 3200-meter relay team returning this spring, they thought they might have a shot at the state title. But when the team posted an eight minute, 18 second time, the fastest time in state 2A competition at Montrose in April, they were certain.
Team members Andrew Tiedeman, Kurt Katzdorn, Alex Smith and Cody Bartlett ran away with the win on the opening day of the three-day state meet in Lakewood, beating out second-place Telluride by 12 seconds. The Hotchkiss boys' team had its best season in more than a decade, placing third at the 2A state meet.
The relay team finished two seconds shy of the 2006 state meet record, and just under four seconds shy of the Hotchkiss school record of 8:08.01, set in 2000 by David Buxton, Kyle Mayberry, Chris Fletcher and Vince Galgano.
Of the four members of the 3200m team, seniors Bartlett and Katzdorn, had signed to run for colleges before the first track practice of the season was even held.
Katzdorn signed to run for McPherson College, a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) school in McPherson, Kan., which is also the alma mater of Hotchkiss head coach Kelly Cowan. Katzdorn was a four-year member and two-time state qualifier for the Hotchkiss cross-country team, and a two-time state qualifier on the 3200m relay team. This year he also qualified for the 3200m run after taking almost 15 seconds off his personal best at the league meet. Katzdorn also competed last winter at indoor track meets in Colorado Springs and Golden.
But it wasn't Cowan who urged him to look at McPherson, said Katzdorn. McPherson's cross-country coach contacted him last fall. He recalled telling Bartlett about the contact at a cross-country practice. "Their colors were red and black and they were the Bulldogs," said Katzdorn of McPherson. "That was just too weird." He signed in February and will run 5k and 10k races. "That's more my area anyways, so it works out," said Katzdorn.
Bartlett signed in February to run for Hawaii Pacific University, and will major in biology and pre-med. A two-year track and cross-country runner for Hotchkiss, he attended elementary school in Hotchkiss before moving away. He returned his junior year, joined the tennis and basketball teams, and qualified for state in cross-country and track.
With every race, Bartlett's times improved. From his sophomore year at Windsor High School to his best time at the 2012 Anna Banana invitational, he shaved more than three minutes off of his 5,000-meter time in cross-country.
This year, Bartlett broke the two-minute mark in the 800m run to win his first individual state gold medal with a time of 1:59.47. In addition to anchoring the 3200m team to a win, he also placed third in the 1600m run and anchored the 1600m team that placed third.
But Bartlett's first love was basketball. He joined the Bulldogs' varsity squad as a point guard his junior year. "Quite honestly, I was hoping for a basketball scholarship and it just wasn't looking that way," he said. "I decided I needed to find a way of loving running."
After his junior year, Bartlett trained during the summer months, logging more than 150 miles before cross-country began. His first senior cross-country race time was almost a minute faster than his final race in 2011, and he consistently placed in the top five throughout the season, even when competing against the bigger schools.
Last fall, Bartlett was named to the 2A boys All-State cross-country team.
"I started to love long distance. It really became my thing," said Bartlett after winning the 800m run. Bartlett was qualified for state in a fifth event, the 3200m run. He only ran the distance race three times this season, he was ranked second in state.
Bartlett said he discovered HPU's cross-country program while searching on-line for Division II schools.
After a disappointing visit to a school in Florida, Bartlett emailed the coach at HPU. He didn't seem interested, said Bartlett. But then the coach called last winter with an offer that included a scholarship. "I said to him, 'I think I'm going to go to your school.'"
Bartlett will run 8ks, or five miles, at HPU. While most of the team's meets are held in Hawaii, regionals and nationals are held on the mainland.
The team is in a re-building stage, said Bartlett, and with two state titles behind him and an entire college career ahead of him, the possibilities are endless.blog comments powered by Disqus