The members of the Soroco track and field team have been talking about a successful season since the preseason -- and it began to take form Saturday in Hotchkiss.
As a team, the boys placed 10th overall behind Moffat County. Telluride was the only other small school among the top 10 teams in the 26-team field.
Montrose, a 4A school, won the meet with 108 points and has emerged as one of the premier teams in the state this year. But running against the larger 5A, 4A and 3A schools will push the Rams early on.
Junior Andy deGanahl finished second in the 400 meters in 50.9 seconds, overcoming the wind and a poor lane assignment.
"We were happy about that time on a cold, rainy day," Soroco coach Gary Heide said. "Out of lane 1, it's fantastic."
Lane assignments are given based on previous times, so Heide had to submit the time he thought deGanahl would run because it was the Rams' first meet of the season.
Heide wrote down a 52.5, forcing deGanahl into lane 1 in the fast heat. It mattered little as deGanahl overcame the stagger to take second. But credit Heide. He predicted the time correctly. He just put the 52.5 with the wrong athlete.
Senior Kory Babcock took fifth in the 400 with the 52.5, which also came as a surprise to Heide, considering Babcock was forced to run in a slower heat.
"That time is very good from him opening the season, and I expect he'll improve too," Heide said. "We want Kory to run the open 400 this year, as well."
Babcock and deGanahl teamed up with seniors Trevor Ellis and C.J. Remick to take fourth in the 1,600-meter relay. Babcock and deGanahl's split times were slower in the relay than in their individual race, but that's expected until they get in shape, Heide said. Ellis and Remick will be expected to bring their splits down, as well, but the team ran the 3:40 that they wanted.
"I'm not unhappy with that time," Heide said. "It puts us on pace. It was a quarter to 7, and it was freezing and cold, and there wasn't an athlete who wanted to be on that field. This week we'd like to get under 3:40."
The quartet hopes to pre-qualify for the state meet with a 3:36.8 at the West Grand meet April 10.
Heide also was pleasantly surprised by the time turned in by the 800-meter relay team. He said he was hoping for a 1:40, but the 1:35.58 the team turned in was one second off the state-qualifying time. He said the weather and handoffs weren't great.
Team members were Ellis, Babcock, junior Tony Iacovetto and deGanahl.
The Rams only took three girls down to Hotchkiss, but Heide said he was pleased with the efforts turned in by junior Nichole Wilson and sophomore Kayla Schmidt.
Schmidt was hesitant to run her first hurdles event ever but turned in an 18.9 in the 100-meter hurdles, which was nearly good enough to place.
Wilson, one of the veterans of this year's girls team, ran her personal best in the 200 in her first meet of the year.
Heide is expecting full squads when the Rams travel to Eagle Valley on Saturday. While the boys' relays are starting to take form, the coach said he has no idea what he's going to see from the girls.
"We're really going to run a lot of relays on Saturday so I can see where they are at," Heide said. "Both the boys' (800 and 1,600-meter relays) have strength and can compete against the best teams. We need to get them mentally hardened. The girls are a little behind. We have to find out where we are at with our relays and if we will be competitive or not."
Hayden will join Soroco and Steamboat at the Eagle Valley meet Saturday, as the Tigers open their season.
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org