Competing against mostly larger 5A schools, the Steamboat Springs girls track and field team, a 4A squad, took third out of 19 teams at the Mickey Dunn Invitational in Grand Junction during the weekend.
The Sailors took 13 girls, and nine scored points for a Steamboat team that wasted little time backing up lofty preseason expectations. The track season is in its infancy, but the Sailors left warm and sunny Grand Junction on Saturday excited about what is ahead.
"It was pretty impressive," coach Andy Reust said. "We didn't have an 800-meter relay or a 1,600-meter relay. We had no long jumpers and no one in the open 400."
But Steamboat will. During the early season meets, the Sailors will be forced to compete without a full squad because of some athletes' prior commitments.
On Saturday, Steamboat's much-heralded but young sprint medley team took first in 1 minute, 55.05 seconds. Sophomores Missy Chotvacs and Hannah Bowers ran the 100-meter legs. Freshman Patricia Henderson ran the 200, and sophomore Jessica Peters ran the 400.
"Hannah had a case of shin splints, and Patricia, this was her first track meet, so she was a little nervous," Reust said. "She'll be fine from now on."
Peters also won the 200 meters in 26.86, while Henderson took fifth. Peters took second in the high jump, prequalifying for the Class 4A state meet with a jump of 5 feet, 2 inches. She will, however, continue to compete in the event.
"We've changed her technique, and we need to jump for the next month solid," Reust said. "I was surprised she went that high at this meet."
Chotvacs took third in the triple jump, leaping 32 feet, 9 3/4 inches, and Reust said he likely will use Chotvacs in the long jump at Saturday's meet in Hotchkiss to see what the powerful jumper can do.
Steamboat's 400-meter relay team took third. Team members are Chotvacs, Bowers, Henderson and Peters.
Senior Hannah Gary finished fourth in the 100-meter hurdles in 17.85, cutting one second off her personal best from last season.
"For her to go out and run a second faster is pretty amazing," Reust said. "She knows what she has to do."
Steamboat's distance runners also fared well. Junior Jennifer Hooper finished fourth in the 3,200 meters in 12:44. She also finished seventh in the 1,600 in 5:55 and ran the anchor leg in the 3,200-meter relay.
Other members of the seventh-place 3,200-meter relay team were freshman Erin Gleason and seniors Katie Conrath and Kaitlin Gallagher.
Conrath also finished seventh in the 800 meters in 2:41 and placed eighth in the 1,600 meters in 5:56.
This weekend, Steamboat will have the services of the female tennis players who participate in both sports. Because the Sailors will be playing tennis against Cedaredge and Delta on Saturday, they will be able to make the Saturday track meet in Hotchkiss.
Reust switched Saturday's meet to Hotchkiss after originally scheduling a meet in Colorado Springs.
"Some of the girls want to run, but tennis is their top priority, so when I can make it work for them I do," Reust said. "We need to get about four meets under their belts before regionals."
Steamboat also took 11 boys to the Mickey Dunn Invitational on Saturday. Senior Tyler Johnson took fourth in the 100 meters and fifth in the 200 meters in 11.61 and 23.56 seconds, respectively.
"The 23.56 was actually a really good time for him this early," Reust said.
The Sailors' 400-meter relay team ran a 45.80 to take fifth. It was the fastest time posted by a Steamboat 400-meter relay team in four years.
Team members were Walker Hammond, David McDonald, David May and Johnson.
Hammond also took seventh in the 300-meter hurdles, finishing in 44.65.
Steamboat will compete without a number of its athletes again this weekend, but Reust expects the numbers to be up by the March 27 meet again in Hotchkiss.
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208
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