At first, the sense of joy and even awe sweeping through the Fort Collins track and field coaching staff was at odds with the news they heard blaring through the stadium.
According to the public address announcer at last week's Dakota Ridge Invitational, Fort Collins (Colo.)
senior Raymond Bozmans
finished his 100-meter dash in more than 10.3 seconds — a blazing time, no doubt, but still one that felt at odds with what Fort Collins coach Conrad Crist was looking at on his personal stopwatch.
Like most coaches, Crist and his assistants hand-time every race, and typically those times are fractionally faster than reality. Crist had observed Bozmans leaving vapor trails along the track at many a competition, and something felt special about this one.
"We were in shock. I had him at 9.97," Crist said. "I was thinking, ‘That can't be right.' I asked my coaches what they had. One had 10.05. Another had 10.07. I just shook my head and said, ‘That was fast.'
"Funny enough, he had never officially gotten the Fort Collins record, even though he has gotten it unofficially many times. So we knew he had at least that. When they finally put it on the board, to watch him just put his head in his hands, it was a great moment."
That moment was Bozmans reacting to having set the Colorado state record in the 100, officially finishing the race in 10.27 seconds. Bozmans toppled the previous mark of 10.32, which was set by Overland's Jeremy Rankin in 2007.
Bozmans' performance at the Dakota Ridge Invitational, where he also won the 200 and 400, provided yet another highlight to what already has been a memorable spring.
His record-setting run already has been immortalized online (see below) and he made waves nationally three weeks ago with a dominant performance at the prestigious Arcadia Invitational. Perhaps the most amazing aspect of Bozmans' spring surge is his age: He is only 17, having been smart enough to skip a level in grade school.
Technically, he should only be a junior.
"It really did feel like one of my better runs," Bozmans said. "I didn't feel like it was as good as what I did at Arcadia, but it felt good. My coaches came down and said they had a 10-flat on the hand times. Once they figured out the time and everything I couldn't believe it. I just sat there in disbelief."
Pushed by national competition at Arcadia, the Texas Christian University-bound Bozmans won the 100 in 10.41 seconds and finished second in the 200 (21.11) by only .01 seconds. The record sprint at Dakota Ridge has put Bozmans on the fast track toward winning at least one state title, which is a surprising omission on Bozmans' burgeoning resume'.
Bozmans finished second in the 200 last year and also placed third in the 100, making strides from his fifth-place finish in the 100 as a sophomore in 2010. Although his star clearly is on the rise, Bozmans remains the heart and soul of a Fort Collins squad focused on making a run at the state title. Crist said Bozmans' top goal this spring is not besting his own record, but delivering the team title to the Lambkins.
And yet Bozmans also boasts the sort of jovial personality that led to a stunning mock-defeat against Crist's 3-year old daughter in a school hallway, prompting the youngster to tell her dad she should have a spot on his team, since, as she put it, "I'm faster than Ray."
"It's all started to sink in," Bozmans said. "They've been playing that video all the time at school. It's been great, and I feel like it is all coming together. Arcadia really gave me a confidence boost, and hopefully we can keep it going through state."