League: Western Slope League (WSL) Class 4A
Coach: Lance Scranton (boys) Todd Trapp (girls)
Assistant Coaches: Ken Olinger and Jennifer Pressgrove
Scranton with the Bulldogs: First year
Trapp with the Bulldogs: fourth year
Returning varsity athletes: (girls) 11 (boys) 7
Craig The Moffat County High School track and field team is being forced to change.
It's not that the team lost a bunch of athletes to graduation; 18 varsity members return from a year ago.
Its not that the boys team isn't familiar with new coach Lance Scranton; he's been around the kids their entire high school careers.
And it's not that the team won't contend for the postseason; it has two returning state champions.
The change is in the way the team has to get there.
High school track and field changed its postseason qualifying format in the offseason.
No longer do the top four athletes in each event qualify for the state championships at the regional tournament.
The top 18 competitors in each event statewide will now qualify, putting pressure on the Bulldogs athletes from Week 1.
"It's a change that's been in the making the last few years," girls coach Todd Trapp said. "There's going to be a list generated every Sunday of the top 25 in each event. In the last weekend before the state meet, the top 18 will advance."
So, each and every week, athletes will know where they stand in respect to state qualifying.
In essence, each week is somewhat like a mini regional meet.
"The good thing that I see out of it, is that the best 18 athletes in the state will be there," Trapp said. "It's going to be much more competitive for those that make it. The bad thing is that I think it's going to be tougher now for the kids to qualify. Our past goal was to be in the top four in the region. Now, we're going to be chasing times every week."
"We're just going to have to step up our level of competition each week."
Easy to say with athletes like Alicia Nelson, Erin Urbanoski and Myiah Bengston returning to the track.
Urbanoski is the two-time defending state long jump champion, Nelson is coming off of a state title won during the cross-country season in the fall, and Bengston was a top-10 sate placer in girls shot put a year ago.
"We have a lot of kids returning with some really good experience," Trapp said. "Myiah is a senior now, and I expect her to do well. Erin, we all know what she's done in the long jump, and I expect her to content for her third in a row, and Alicia has been successful before. I think the confidence she gained in cross country - knowing she can beat the top girls in the state - is only going to help her confidence on the track this season."
Scranton takes over for Gary Tague, who retired at the conclusion of last season after 23 years at the helm of the boys team.
"Tague had a solid program going here for a long time," Scranton laughed and said. "I just hope I don't mess it up. But, really, we want to continue what he put in place."
Brian Ivy leads the boys team this season.
A state qualifier last year in triple jump, Scranton said Ivy could help mold some of the younger boys on the team.
"We have a lot of young athletes this year on the boys team," he said. "Brian will have some of that leadership experience that could benefit a lot of these guys down the road."
But, mainly what Scranton said he's looking for is consistency.
"With the way the new system is, we have to monitor ourselves each and every week, from the beginning of the season," he said. "Every meet means something now. As a coach, it's my job to see the kids consistently get better every time they step out there."