Starter gun sounds for MCHS track season

Nate Browning may be stuck running inside because of the weather, but that limitation hasn't affected his goals for his senior year track season.

"I really want to break Moffat County's 100-meter record this year. That's probably my biggest goal," he said.

Browning has nearly a second to shave to beat Chad Zulian's 1998 school record of 10.81, but that's not an inconceivable objective, said the three-time state qualifier.

For most of the other boys on the Moffat County High School track team, this will be the year to prove themselves, said Coach Gary Tague. The team is young and unproven in many events after losing seven of their state qualifiers from last season.

"We ended up placing third as a team in regionals last year. This year we'll just have to see how the season shapes up for us," Tague said.

The team started practicing last week and has high hopes for the season. Three former state qualifiers in sprints return this year to create the core of the team's speed events. Those three are seniors Browning and Chad Hettinger, and junior Neil Binder.

According to Tague and thrower's coach Lance Scranton, the field event participants are the ones who need to step up this year. The three who will most likely lead the way for the throwers are senior Matt Sheldon and juniors Joe Jacobs and Ryan Hess.

The Moffat County Bulldogs should show up strong in distance events this season, having three All-Conference runners from last fall's cross country team senior Jarrod Burns, junior Colton Grinolds and sophomore Brice Ellgen.

Tague looks for a good year as a team, but emphasizes personal accomplishment for the student athletes.

"That's the neat thing about track, you don't need to finish first to have had a good race," he said. "We evaluate the kids each week after their events to see if they've improved. If they have, they get a speeding ticket."

The speeding ticket is a reward system for improvements over the season, and for personal bests the athletes achieve.

"We just need to run fast, throw long and jump far. If we do that, we'll be fine," Tague said.

The girls track team, which is the defending regional champion, is optimistic about the season. All 13 of last years' state qualifiers return to compete this year.

Seniors Jill Adamek and Heather Urbanoski, who compete in the 100 and 200; sophomores Laurel Mortensen and Kate Schafer, who compete in the 400; junior Charlotte Steele, and seniors Stephanie Hurd and Emily Mortensen, who compete in the 800, will lead the way for the Lady 'Dogs this season.

"All of those girls have the ability to go and to place at state this year," girls Coach Mike Gleason said.

The field events are where Gleason has concerns, hoping to find a thrower to fill the position of 1999 stand-out, Dollie Frentress.

"Hopefully we'll have a girl step up into her spot this year," the coach said. "They need to have a breakthrough season."

The jumpers should do well this season, the coach said, having qualified a girl to state in each event last year. Returning will be seniors Krystal Voorhees and Rhianna Bain, and sophomore Jeni Jones.

"Right now we're not jumping well enough to place at state. If the girls could gain a little more distance, they could really help us at this year," Gleason said.

The keys to the season, Gleason feels, are to minimize injuries, though he does feel the team has the depth to compensate. Other than keeping the girls healthy, the coach wants to get on to the track as soon as possible. The team's been practicing indoors because of bad weather in the early season.

"We're a team who really comes on at the end of the season the last three weeks. The longer we have to be indoors, the further it will push back when we turn it on," Gleason said.

A track meet scheduled in Meeker for Saturday has been canceled, so the girls will not compete until March 17 at the Micky-Done Invitational held in Grand Junction, an all-girls meet. The boys will hold off until they compete in Hotchkiss on March 31.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.