LAKEWOOD — Pomona junior Ryan Marquez stays focused in the moment be it on the football field, basketball court or track.
“Of course school comes before everything,” said Marquez, a three-sport athlete for the Panthers. “To be the best in every sport really drives me to focus on each sport individually when I have the time. When I come out on meet days or games days I come out to do the best of my ability.”
Marquez doesn’t just tinker in his three sports. He has quarterbacked Pomona to back-to-back Class 5A football state championship appearances. Marquez was a 5A Jeffco League basketball second team all-conference selection this winter leading the Panthers in scoring, rebounds and assists.
Now, it’s track season where Marquez placed third in the 300-meter hurdles at the state meet last year as a sophomore.
“What a phenomenal athlete,” Pomona track coach Jeff Donnel said of Marquez before the start of the Arvada City Championships on March 18 at Jeffco Stadium. “He totally fits the mold of what we try to do at Pomona. We are all about having multi-sport athletes. In this day and age its kind of a dying breed.”
Encouraging multi-sport athletes has benefited Pomona’s strong football, wrestling and track programs. Marquez said the bonding has been key over the past few years.
“A lot of the football guys do track. It’s a great atmosphere,” Marquez said. “Everyone is having fun and joking with each other. Everyone really bonds during track season. It’s a great feeling being apart of that.”
It’s also a nice feeling being the defending 5A boys track and field team champions. Pomona racked up 94.5 team points last season distancing itself from runner-up Fountain-Fort Carson (79 points). It was the first team track state title in the school’s history.
“Of course that’s in the back of our minds,” Marquez said of defending the 5A title. “Early in the season we are just looking to get better for the end of the season. We are training hard right now. Everyone is devoted. When time comes for state everyone will be ready to go.”
Marquez won the 300 hurdles and finished second in the 110 hurdles to Ralston Valley senior Tyler Shannon on Saturday. Shannon placed third at state in the 110 hurdles last spring. Marquez and Shannon — good friends — will line up against each other plenty of times this spring.
Pomona was ready to go March 18 winning both girls and boys team titles at the Arvada City Championships.
The Panthers did lose a few key cogs from last year’s Class 5A state championship team. Junior Max Borghi — second in the 100, third in the 200 and on both the 4x100 and 4x200 relays at state — is still recovering from torn ACL and MCL in his knee that happened during the state football quarterfinals. Borghi won’t run this spring.
Jake Moretti — first in the shot put at state — graduated a semester early and is already enrolled at the University of Colorado where he will play football for the Buffaloes. Also, Danny Williams — fifth in the high jump, second in the long jump and first in the triple jump at state — graduated.
“We’ve still got some great kids,” Donnel said. “If everything falls into place anything can happen. Never turn your back on an opportunities.”
The cupboard isn’t even close to bare for the Panthers. Seniors Brandon Micale and Issac Lopez return as two of top in the discus and shot put in 5A. Micale placed fourth in the discus and Lopez took sixth in the shot put at state last year.
Pomona returns 3-of-4 runners — seniors Jeremy Gonzales, Adam Eckhardt and Miles Matulik — from its state championship 4x100 relay. It’s likely Uriah Vigil, another three-sport athlete, or Marquez will fill the void of Borghi in the 4x100 and 4x200 really teams.
“I don’t see any pressure in this sort of sport,” said Gonzales, who was seventh at state in the 100 and 200 last year. “You’ve got to go out there and give 110 percent every time. If you do that your outcomes will be good.”
Gonzales, Matulik and Eckhardt finished 1-2-3 in the 100 on Saturday. Gonzales, who will play football and run track at South Dakota School of Mines next school year, also won the 200.
“Without a doubt he (Gonzales) has a chance to really shine,” Donnel said. “Of course we are going to miss Max, but Jeremy has the chance to be the guy.”
Gonzales is clearly focused on helping the track team duplicate the accomplishment Pomona’s wrestling team did last month in winning back-to-back 5A team titles.
“It would be amazing. I think we deserve that at Pomona,” Gonzales said about repeating as state champs. “We work really hard. We really take this sport it seriously.”