Sailor girls track trio wins

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The string of top finishes for the Steamboat Springs track and field team continued Saturday at the Palisade Invitational.

For the third time this season, the Sailor girls came in first. Saturday, Steamboat finished atop a field of 20, scoring 116 points. Fruita-Monument finished second with 95 points.

The Sailors not only left Palisade with a win but left their mark in the record books, as well. Steamboat's sprint medley team of Missy Chotvacs, Hannah Bowers, Patricia Henderson and Jessica Peters set a new Palisade Invitational and school record Saturday with a time of 1 minute, 51.43 seconds.

Peters also won the open 200 in 25.83 and the open 400 in 57.86.

Sophomore Tara King and junior Kayla Kostur also captured event titles for the Sailors on Saturday. King won the 800 meters in 2:27, knocking 14 seconds off her previous best time of the season.

"That finish will be a surprise to some but not to me," Steamboat track coach Andy Reust said.

Kostur won the triple jump with a leap of 32 feet, 1 3/4 inches. Chotvacs was right behind Kostur at 31-3.

Peters cleared 5-2 to take second in the high jump, and junior Jennifer Hooper ran a 12:18 to finish second in the 3,200-meter run, cutting 26 seconds off her time from April 3.

Hooper teamed up with King and juniors Kelli Parnell and Katie Conrath to finish second in the 3,200-meter relay with a time of 10:20.

Parnell and King were sick and recovering from shin splints, so Reust is optimistic that times will continue to drop in this relay and the sprint relays.

Senior Hannah Gary finished third in the 100-meter hurdles in 16.86. Conrath was third in the 1,600 meters with a time of 5:47.

Steamboat's 400-meter relay team of junior Kristyn Bradbury, Bowers, Gary and Henderson ran a 53.26 to place fifth. Junior Mackenzie Frank placed fifth in the 300-meter hurdles in 50.34. Kostur was fifth in the high jump at 4-8.

Kostur also took sixth in the long jump with a personal best jump of 14-8. The Sailors' 1,600-meter relay team of freshman Erin Gleason, Parnell, King and Henderson finished sixth in 4:27.

Conrath finished seventh in the 800 with a 2:36, and King wound up seventh in the high jump at 4-8.

"We are trying to run and get better every week," Reust said. "Winning (meets and events) is nice, but the ultimate goal is regionals and state, and that's what we try and press to our kids."

Steamboat's boys placed 10th out of 20 teams with Grand Junction Central and Moffat County finishing first and second, respectively, at Palisade.

Senior Tyler Johnson finished second in the 200 in 23.57 and tied for third in the 100 in 11.34.

The 400-meter relay team of junior Russ Ruppert, senior David McDonald, sophomore Walker Hammond and Johnson placed fifth in 45.73.

Senior Tyler O'Leary also took fifth in the 3,200 meters with a time of 10:24. To give some sort of indication as to how much deeper the distance field was at Palisade compared to the field at Eagle Valley on April 3, look at O'Leary's times.

He ran a 10:43 at Eagle and placed second. He ran 19 seconds faster at Palisade and got fifth. O'Leary won the 1,600 meters in Eagle with a 4:54. On Saturday, he dropped seven seconds off that time and failed to place.

"But he's first in our region, by far," Reust said.

Steamboat also scored points in the 3,200-meter relay, the open 800 and the 1,600-meter relay.

Senior Bjorn Utu, junior Andy Morell, freshman Matt Hill and senior Austin Ross placed seventh in the 3,200-meter relay with an 8:58.

Utu was eighth in the 800 meters with a 2:14. Steamboat's 1,600-meter relay team of Ruppert, Utu, Hammond and Johnson also placed eighth in 3:45.

Reust credited much of the early season success of his team to the hard work by the athletes as well as the assistant coaches: Chris Sullivan (sprints, long/triple jump), Tom Fitzgerald (distance), Allie Lehman (distance), Debbie Funston (distance), Lonn Clementson (shot and discus), Mike McCannon (sprints) and Denise Pearson (hurdles).

It is no coincidence that Steamboat is starting to run faster times and jump longer or higher distances as the team gets into shape. The problem the Sailors encounter that no other school does is the inopportune time of their spring break.

Steamboat breaks from April 19 through 23 -- other area schools already are back from break -- and does not have time to focus on conditioning because regionals open May 14.

Reust said he has spoken with the team on the importance of maintaining a conditioning level in the week off.

In an effort to get in some competition, Steamboat is taking its female sprint relays to North Park's Invitational on Thursday in Craig. The meet serves as a state prequalifier, but Moffat County's track isn't known as one of the fastest in the area.

"I'm not going over to pre-qualify for anything," Reust said. "These girls need to run these relays, especially with spring break next week."

For those athletes who will be around, the Sailors also are taking part in the Glenwood Invitational on Saturday.

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

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