Steamboat Springs Call it a glorified practice. That's how the coaches and athletes viewed it.
Wednesday's track meet between Steamboat Springs, Hayden, Soroco and North Park was scheduled several weeks ago with no intention on awarding prizes. Points and times were kept but more to assist the runners and coaches in gauging progress rather than to declare a winner.
With the participating schools already scheduled into meets for this upcoming weekend, many athletes rested either by sitting out or participating in different events for a change of pace. However, judging by the efforts given, it was tough to tell there were no prizes to claim.
"It's better than a workout," Sailors coach Andy Reust said. "Kids always run better when competing against others."
With no field events planned, the Steamboat Springs boys literally ran away with first place behind 165 points. Hayden finished second with 98. Soroco came in fourth with 20. On the girls' side, Hayden pulled out a narrow victory over the Sailors, 112-106. Neither team had an entry in the 4x400 relay the meet's final event.
The Steamboat girls started out with a disqualification in the 800 Medley relay but the team of Lindsay Stanford, Katie Conrath, Emily Hines and Jennifer Hooper followed with a victory in the 4x800 to get on the board. Conrath passed a Soroco runner around the 300-meter mark to give her team the lead.
"We thought this meet was going to be pretty fun," Conrath said. "We were going into this meet thinking it was like a practice."
The Sailors other first-place relay finish was in the boys' 4x400 relay with a time of 3:52.65. The girls' 4x100 may not have won, but they certainly took first in style. Stepping out onto the track as "Ladies from the Eighties," the team of Val Finch, Marina Bull, Becca Gray and Katey Hale turned some heads with their mixtures of spandex and skirts.
"Track meets are so tense," said Hale. "Everyone was more relaxed when we put these outfits on."
Several Steamboat runners finished first in individual events. Jessica Flores' time of 16:78 was tops in the 100 meter hurdles. Teammate Matt Haltom claimed the title in the 300-meter hurdles. Ian Ramsay posted a meet-best 5:07.87 in the 1600 meters. After anchoring the victorious 4x800 relay team, Hooper came back to finish first in the girls' 1600 meters in 6:33.12.
The Sailors recorded a clean sweep on both sides in the open 800 meters, with Ramsay and Lennae Jenkins on top. Jenkins finished first in the open 400 meters as well.
Hayden also had some outstanding individual performances. Jaclyn Etzler won both the open 100 and 200 meters with times of 14.03 and 28.90, respectively. In both races, however, her teammates provided stiff opposition. In fact, Samantha Schoeberl tied Etzler in the 100, while timers called the 200 a photo finish between Etzler and Lauren Branstetter, who finished with in a time of 28.96.
"This meet is definitely a good idea," Etzler said. "I like them better than practices."
Danny Hayden, Derek Stephenson and Kristin Brown were other top finishers for the Tigers. Of the nine relays ran Wednesday, Hayden won six, although the boys' 4x100 relay team wasn't pleased with its times.
"It was max out week in weightlifting class this week," said Stephenson, who anchored the race. "We are all pretty sore."
Tigers coach Kevin Kleckler said he had to rest some kids because of illness and the past and upcoming bigger meets, but he definitely saw value in the trip to Steamboat Springs.
"We get a lot more out of this than practice because the kids run a little harder," he said.
"We got a lot more out of conditioning. We would love to do it again."
Soroco had two individual winners. Andy deGanahl's time of 53.53 was tops in the open 400 meters.
On the opposite end of the sprint spectrum, Meg Hayne was the first female across the finish line in the 3200 meters with a time of 14:19.03.