Stepping it up

Rams to butt heads with state's best

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Last season, many members of Soroco's track and field team could be heard telling opposing athletes what Soroco stood for and where it was; everyone wanted to know where this Andy deGanahl kid came from.

A successful 2003 season ended with deGanahl picking up state titles in the 200 and 400 meters. He is back to defend both titles as a junior, but deGanahl's teammates, particularly his male teammates, are determined to show everyone that Soroco is more than a one-man show.

"The rest of the team said we have to step it up," senior Kory Babcock said. "We have to see the competition, but we'd like a state team title."

While a team title will be tough for the Rams to win, expectations are high for the boys and girls track and field teams at Soroco.

More than 20 athletes are out this season, and coach Gary Heide welcomes back a large number of returning state qualifiers in the sprint events.

"I want all the kids who went to state last year to return this year," Heide said. "As far as the boys' side, Andy wants to defend his championships, but I think it will be more difficult this year, actually, because everyone's gunning for him. On the girls' side, the 400-meter and 800-meter relays teams took fifth and eighth, and three of the four are back. Really this year, we're going to concentrate on some open events with them, as well."

Karli Babcock, Melissa Roy and Nichole Wilson are Soroco's top three female sprinters, but several young runners have decided to come out and will help push those three to run at a higher level.

In addition to deGanahl, the Soroco boys welcome back Kory Babcock and relay teammates C.J. Remick and Trevor Ellis.

Last season, the Rams' 1,600-meter relay team took third at state. This year, the athletes want to break the school record once again and win a state title.

"We would like to prequalify by the second meet of the year," deGanahl said.

The quartet of Babcock, Ellis, Remick and deGanahl is looking to run the 1,600-meter relay (four 400s) in 3 minutes, 40 seconds at the first meet this weekend in Hotchkiss. By the second meet in Eagle Valley on April 3, they want to run a 3:36 and qualify for state. By the end of the season, the four want to run a 3:30.

The regional track meet is May 14 to 15 in Grand Junction. State is the next weekend.

"I'm really pushing to get the team to a high level by the beginning of May," Heide said. "I want us running well two meets into May instead of thinking we'll really run well at Grand Junction even though we haven't done it yet."

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

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