Speed thrills

Tracksters take home lasting memories from state meet



Steamboat Springs runner Rachel Starr came from behind to grab a seventh-place finish at the state track and field championships at Jeffco Stadium Saturday but she had little time to celebrate.

Starr was finishing up a few last-minute details earlier this week, before leaving for England where she will be the maid of honor at her mother's wedding.

"The competition was tough but I didn't feel like I had my best race," Starr said of her effort in the 400. "I was pretty tired."

Pueblo Central's Ronaleen Hancock won the race with a time of 57.62 seconds. Conifer runner Meagan Hoffman was second at 57.67. Laurel Mortensen of Moffat County was sixth at 60.65 and Starr finished seventh with a time of 61.41.

"I was behind everyone for more than half the race," Starr said. "But I picked it up around the final corner and passed up two other runners."

Starr said it was hard to run on the outside lanes after being seeded in the inner circles for most of the year. It's a huge psychological disadvantage since the runner starts in front of the other runners and has no one to pace with.

Starr said her start was pretty slow because of that, but it may have helped her on the final kick.

"I'm not used to having that much left at the end of the race," Starr said. "But I still had something when I came around that final corner."

Steamboat sent six athletes to the 4A state finals last weekend. Starr was the only runner to advance out of the preliminaries. Senior Darren Lucas ran a 16.22, but failed to make it to the finals in the 110-meter hurdles.

The Steamboat 400-meter relay team also missed the finals after posting a time of 45.60 in that race. The team is composed of Patrick McMahon, Kyle Svendsen, Ryan Johnson and Ryan Wattles. Svendsen also competed in the triple jump, but didn't make the finals.


The members of the Hayden girls track team who traveled to Dutch Clark Stadium for the 2A meet reached just about every goal they wanted to except for a state crown.

At the meet, the majority of the glory went to the relay team of Kristin Brown, Jaclyn Etzler, Jeanette Miller and Jessi Babish a squad that posted several top team finishes and smashed two school records.

"It was our fastest time so we can't complain," Miller said of the 800-meter medley performance at state. "I think everybody did a really good job."

The Tigers squad also ran in the 400-meter relay and placed fourth with a time of 52.49 also a season's best and a school record.

"We just want to run a personal best time," Etzler said before the team stepped onto the track for the 400-meter relay on Saturday. "If we can do that it would be pretty rewarding."

Etzler was a standout at the meet. The Tiger freshman advanced to the finals in all three of the events in which she qualified.

She placed eighth in the 100-meter dash with a time of 13.25. She also was a part of both Hayden girls relay teams.

"I'm happy," Etzler said. "I'm just a freshman, so I have three more tries. I was one of the youngest runners here and it showed in the 100."

Etzler said the meet was a little more competitive than she had expected.

"There is a lot of tough competition," Etzler said. "I thought it was going to be like the regional, but there are some girls here from the eastern side that are fast real fast."

The Hayden boys 800-meter relay team also set a new school mark as the squad of Jacques Denker, Glen Frentress, Matt Walden and Joel Wixson finished eighth with a time of 1:35.78.

This year's Hayden showing marked a huge step for the local team. It was the largest number of runners Hayden has sent to state in several years. And despite the girls team's small size, just five runners total, the core of the group advanced to the state championships.

The boys' individual showing was highlighted by Wixson who just missed advancing to the finals in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes.

Wixson's time of 11.62 in the 100-meter dash placed him 10th in the state. His mark of 23.51 earned him a ninth in the 200-meter dash.


Jessie DeGanahl wasn't intimidated being the only athlete from the Soroco track team to make the trip to the 2A state championships last weekend.

In fact, she dropped nearly a half second off her best time in the 300-meter hurdles at the meet. Though the freshman didn't place at state, she said it was an experience to remember.

"It was really awesome to compete with some of the best athletes in the state," she said.

This year's 2A state champion in the 300-meter hurdles, Shonda Brown, runs at West Grand, so DeGanahl knew what she would be up against. Brown won the event in Pueblo with a time of 44.44.

"I've run against that type of competition before," she said.

DeGanahl placed sixth in her heat, which didn't qualify her for the finals. At worst, she could have ended up 13th, but after the race she wasn't concerned about final standings. Instead, she was happy that she chipped time off her previous best run, set at the regional meet.

She ran the race on May 19 at Dutch Clark Stadium in Pueblo.

"It was a little hotter that most of us are used to," she said.

The track was warm, too, which she wasn't used to, but those are the things you have to get past when you're competing far from home, she said.

DeGanahl was only a hundredth of a second away from breaking the Soroco High School record in her event, which made for a bittersweet run.

"I was a little upset," she said of just missing the record.

However, the freshman modestly knows she has time to improve. As for state, she hopes to make the trip again.

"I'd like to be more competitive next year," she said.

Besides running her race, what impressed the young hurdler most about her experience at state was seeing top caliber athletes at their best. DeGanahl said her fondest memory from the trip was watching the state's best pole-vaulter break the state record.

"It was awesome," she said.


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