Working overtime

Lady Sailors succeeding in tennis and track

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"T-squared" is the phrase Kelli Parnell coined for describing her decision to play tennis and run track this spring. Tara King and Stacy Cavanagh, who made the same tennis-and-track decision, prefer to use the word "crazy."

"But I like crazy," King said.

Two-sport athletes aren't uncommon in Steamboat Springs. But the trio's success is a surprise, considering that this time last year, Cavanagh was learning how to play tennis, King was holding a lacrosse stick, and Parnell's second sport was soccer.

This season, Parnell and Cavanagh, both juniors, are Steamboat's No. 1 and No. 3 singles players, respectively, and King, a sophomore playing her first year of tennis, earned a varsity spot on the No. 4 doubles team.

In track, Parnell and King have emerged as two of the Sailors' best middle-distance runners, taking turns placing in the 800 meters at meets. King and Cavanagh have each placed in the high jump.

"It's a tribute to how good of athletes they are," Sailors track

coach Andy Reust said. "Like I told them, whatever you can give me, I'll take it."

Tennis remains the top priority for the three, but they make as many track meets and practices as they can. Last year, Cavanagh started out in both but quit track because she practiced but was uanble to compete at meets.

This season, thanks to better scheduling, Parnell, King and Cavanagh -- and Danielle Tredway, on occasion -- have been able to play tennis and then hop in a car and make it to track meets in time to compete.

Last week served as a perfect example of the lengths Parnell has gone to take part in both.

The Steamboat tennis team played Durango on April 1 in Grand Junction before the two teams opened play in the two-day, 20-team Western Slope Tournament at Mesa State on April 2.

Parnell played her matches that Thursday and Friday and finished her consolation matches Saturday. That gave her enough time to make the 110-mile drive from Grand Junction to Eagle Valley for her 800-meter run. Despite shin splints, Parnell finished in 2 minutes, 44 seconds, which was good enough for eighth.

"I got home at 11 that night and was aching all over," Parnell said.

Cavanagh and King had hoped to make it to Eagle Valley that did not finish their consolation tennis rounds in time to make the meet.

Earlier this season, Parnell said she caught herself worrying about finishing her tennis matches early enough to compete in Steamboat's track meets. Since then, she has stopped watching the clock because she doesn't want distractions when playing tennis.

But Cavanagh said it's hard not to have those thoughts in the back of her mind. For her, the pressure to succeed comes from within. This season, she became a singles player, despite limited experience and even less year-round commitment to the sport.

"I think I was trying to prove people wrong," Cavanagh said. "I go sport to sport. I don't just play tennis."

Parnell, however, is a committed tennis player and a veteran of the Steamboat team. Running was something she picked up late but fell in love with quickly after a positive experience in cross country during the fall.

"I have to have two sports in the spring," Parnell said. "At first I was like, I'll do track on the side, but then I started getting really good results. Track is good for conditioning, and track really helps you stay in shape for tennis and even works your arms. They go well together."

Reust and Steamboat tennis coaches John Aragon and Don Toy are fortunate to have King on their teams; she easily could have picked a different sport this spring.

"I kind of wanted to do lacrosse again and thought about soccer," she said. "I was definitely going to do two sports."

While all three compete at different levels in tennis and in several different events in track, the theme of their Sundays is similar.

"I do homework all day," Cavanagh said. "We miss a good day every week for tennis and track."

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

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