Steamboat Springs When the time comes to travel to the state track meet, Steamboat Springs sprinter Tyler Johnson has already decided which vehicle he wants to use for the three-hour journey to Denver.
It's not too fast, it doesn't handle that well and it's not the type of vehicle a high school boy would use to impress a girl on a date.
But according to Johnson, this vehicle does have one very redeeming quality -- it's big.
"We've always wanted to take a big bus to state," the junior said on Monday. "In the past we've always had to take the little ones because we didn't have enough people going, but this year I think things will be different."
Johnson is hoping to reserve his seat on that bus by running the same way he has in the opening two weeks of the season. Last Saturday, he collected a second-place medal for his effort in the 200-meter dash, a third-place medal for his performance in the 100-meter dash and was on the 400-meter relay team that placed first at the 19-team Eagle Valley Invitational.
"We didn't take that many kids to this meet," coach Andy Reust said. "But the ones that did go were outstanding."
Johnson's finishes helped lead the boys team to a third-place finish. Rifle won the meet.
He ran the 200 in a time of 23.96 seconds and the 100 in a time of 11.20. Then he joined Lonny Radford, Shea Hurley and Ryan Proffitt on the 400-meter relay team that took first place with a time of 46.21.
Steamboat's 800- and 1,600-meter relay teams also earned second-place finishes.
The team of Radford, Hurley, Johnson and Cameron Burney recorded a time of 1:36.76 in the 800. It was Radford, Hurley, Bjorn Utu and Walker Hammond finishing at 3:46.46 in the 1,600.
Other top finishes came from Burney who cleared 6 feet to take first in the high jump. Chris Dombey took fifth in the triple jump with an effort of 37-feet, 7 1/4-inches and Wade Christensen was sixth with a jump of 37-1 1/4.
Distance runner Mike Gleason was the only other Sailor scoring points at the meet with an effort of 5:10 in the 1,600-meter run. He took sixth.
Reust said the team's results this season have been improved by more competitive practices. With 67 kids out for the team, the coach said just getting a spot on a relay team or for a specific event can become a battle for many of the runners. That has made his top runners more competitive at the meets and more aware of their performances.
"I'm giving a little bit more in practice," Johnson said. "I'm being pushed by other kids who are right behind me. I'm being pushed a lot more this year -- it hasn't been that big of an issue in the past."
Johnson thinks this team will continue to get stronger as it moves toward the regional meet the first week of May.
"If we get everybody together and everybody does their job we should have a big team this year," Johnson said. "I'm thinking we will need that big bus."
The team will look for more top results this week when it competes in West Grand. The field events will begin at 8:30 a.m. and the running events will follow at 9:30 a.m.