Steamboat track team has the numbers

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Steamboat Springs High School track and field coach Andy Reust maxed out his budget, and the first meet is still a week away.
The Steamboat Springs High School did not have enough uniforms to outfit the 70 members of this year's squad, so he had to order additional sets.
That was on Wednesday. The total number out continues to fluctuate as additional runners, throwers and jumpers show up for practices.
"I'm confident we will, or will come close to, filling every event this year," Reust said with a smile.
Last year, the team sent just three athletes to the state track meet in Denver. All three runners graduated, leaving some uncertainty as to how this year's squad would fare.
The question was half answered when the 19 members of last year's squad returned -- and 51 others who were anxious to be a part of the Sailors team also showed up.
The other half of the answer depends on how hard everyone is willing to push themselves in practice and meets, returning senior Matt Haltom said.
If a recent practice served as any indication, a majority of Steamboat's team isn't interested in practicing at less than 100 percent, despite instructions to do so.
"They understand the need to compete as much as they can, as often as they can," Reust said. "A lot of the kids out have had success in other sports, and they want to have even more success."
Participating in track and field undeniably benefits the athletes in their other endeavors. Juniors Hannah Gary and Katie Liefer and sophomore Kristin Bradbury came out for track this spring with next year's volleyball season in mind, though Bradbury would have participated this season anyway.
Sophomore Kelly Ascher is a figure skater, and she appreciates the flexibility that she has in track practices. She is a distance runner and a shot and disc thrower. She participated in middle school track but skipped out during her freshmen year.
"Track has a lot of variety," she said. "You can do whatever you want to do. A lot of kids are here to stay in shape for other sports."
That may be their main reason for participation, but the team will reap the rewards if the new team members prove to have half the talent in track that they have in other sports.
"Look at this group of athletes," Reust said. "The best in their sport and all are here at one time. How lucky could I get?"
But Reust is quick to note he can't take the credit for convincing 70 students to participate. He said the returning athletes and the head coaches and assistants from other sports played crucial roles in developing this year's track squad.
Seven assistants will help Reust coach -- and manage -- the sheer number of participants this season.
Lonn Clementson and Bruce Crowhurst are helping coach the throwers. Mike McCannon and Pio Utu are working with the sprinters. John Smith is the long distance coach. Ron Schnackenberg has the jumpers, assisted by trainer Krista Pearson. Denise Pearson, the first female to place at the state track meet for Steamboat, is working with the hurdlers and the throwers.
Clementson, both Pearsons and Schnackenberg are all SSHS graduates.
The track team's first meet is March 29 in Fort Lupton. The lone home meet is April 30, and Reust said he is already looking for volunteers. Those interested can contact the high school.


--To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com

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