Steamboat Springs The clouds and drizzle that set over the football field Wednesday at Soroco High School seemed only fitting. That it wasn’t snow provided the only odd part for the Rams track and field team.
The weather has “been tough, but it’s made us better,” said senior Ceanna Rossi, who will lead a large contingent of Rams into Thursday’s opening day of the Colorado state track and field championships. “It’s made us tougher. (Coach David) Bruner has made us come out here when it’s snowing and blizzarding. We’ve had to practice in a blizzard where you couldn’t even see in front of you.”
Through all that, it’s hard to deny that this has been one of the Rams’ most successful track seasons to date.
With the state championships opening Thursday and continuing through Saturday in Denver, Soroco qualified 17 of its 21 athletes.
“This is my 16th year coaching track at various schools, and I’ve had more kids at other schools, but I’ve never taken this high of percentage of kids,” Bruner said.
The Ram’s maroon likely will be everywhere.
On the girls side, the school qualified the 400- and 800-meter relay teams of Lauryn Bruggink, Ceanna Rossi, Jaelyn Whaley and Micaela Meyer.
The girls 1,600 relay team of Bruggink, Ceanna Rossi, Whaley and Carmen Matthews also qualified, as did the 3,200 relay team of Whaley, Matthews, and Ceanna and Josie Rossi. The sprint medley team of Bruggink, Lindsay Miles, Josie Rossi and Matthews also qualified.
“I want to get on the podium (a top-six finish) in at least one” relay, Ceanna Rossi said. “And I think we can medal in all of them.”
The boys relay slate is almost equally impressive. Pie Lombardi, Jacob Hange, and Ben and David Strait will make up the 400 relay, and Lombardi, Nic Paxton, AJ Anderson and Hange will make up the 800 relay.
The Rams also will have a 3,200 relay team of Josh Baker, Anderson, and Ben and David Strait.
The boys 400 relay team should have a chance to set the school record. The record sits at 46 seconds, and the team earlier ran a 46.66.
“And we haven’t really worked handoffs,” Hange said.
Individually, Meyer will compete in the 100-meter and 300 hurdles, Josie Rossi in the 1,600-meter and 3,200-meter runs, David Strait in the 300 hurdles and triple jump, Paxton in the long jump and triple jump, Anderson and Peyton Martindale in the pole vault and Ben Strait in the shot put.
“We want to go down and try to medal,” Bruner said. “That’s always the goal at the state track meet. We have 13 events. If we can medal in half of those, that’s a great track meet for us. Anything above that would be phenomenal.”
Tigers have high hopes
The Hayden High School track team has brought home a few top results from the state track meet in recent years, and it will have more chances on all three days of this year’s event.
The Tigers’ top threats open up competition Thursday. Junior Aubree Haskins enters Thursday’s shot put competition with the second-best shot put this season in Class 2A. She and another competitor have reached as far as 34 feet, 5-1/2 inches. Only Michelle Hickey of Lyons has gone farther, hitting 36-2.
Hayden’s other best state championship threats come Friday and Saturday, both chances powered by the legs of senior Chris Zirkle. Zirkle has the second-best times in both the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs, and he’s behind the same athlete, Telluride’s Ty Williams, in both events. Williams’ best in the 1,600 is 4 minutes, 27.17 seconds, a hair ahead of Zirkle’s 4:27.28.
Williams recorded a 9:33.72 in the 3,200 to leap ahead of Zirkle’s season best of 9:43.77.
Zirkle and Haskins are just the tip for the Tigers, as Hayden should have several other good chances to medal in, or even win, events.
Senior Hayden Blake has times in the middle of the packs of both the 110- and 300-meter hurdle fields and could make finals and medal in both.
The boys high jump competition is expected to be dominated by Cripple Creek’s Ethan Browning, whose season best is 4 inches better than anyone else in Class 2A. Hayden’s Dakota Zehner and Brandon Ray both are tied up in large groups of competitors, however, and both could figure into the top half of the event finals.
The boys 1,600-meter relay, featuring Zirkle, Zehner, Blake and Brentt Gabel, was one of the last teams to qualify in the event, but they have reason to expect big improvement. The group decided at the last minute to run the race for the first time at regionals and still managed a qualifying time.