Becoming a morning person isn't always easy, but Hannah Bowers, Missy Chotvacs, Patricia Henderson and Jessica Peters have learned. As members of Steamboat Springs' 800-meter medley relay team, they have to be at the track early to prepare for the first event of every track meet.
It was difficult at first, but as the season has progressed, the four have learned how much time they need to warm up and what to expect in the morning. And as the weather gets warmer, the process has become easier.
Friday, the Class 4A/5A State Track and Field Meet begins at Denver's Jeffco Stadium with the preliminary heats of the 800-meter medley relay, so there will be little time to sit around and think about where they are and why they are there.
"I'm so nervous," said Henderson, a freshman. "You have no idea."
Peters remembers her first trip to Jeffco Stadium. Like Henderson, Peters had no idea what to expect, and she left with the 400-meter state title. This season has been different for the sophomore.
"I know what to expect, but you don't know if someone new has come up," Peters said. One new person for Peters to think about is Henderson, who continues to drop time in the 400. Henderson's surprise third-place finish at last weekend's regionals qualified her for state.
Peters qualified for state in four events: the sprint medley, the high jump and the 200 and 400 meters. She has the opportunity to place in all four, beginning Friday with the high jump finals.
Chotvacs, a sophomore, and junior Kayla Kostur will compete in the triple jump Friday, as well. Chotvacs and Kostur enter the state meet separated by half an inch. Kostur won the regional meet with a leap of 33 feet, 9 1/2 inches.
"I want to get into the finals," Chotvacs said.
Junior Jennifer Hooper said she doesn't have any expectations for this weekend. But after running personal-best times in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters in Grand Junction last weekend, Hooper said she is feeling great and wants to run even faster this weekend. She finished the 3,200 in 12 minutes, 0.44 seconds Saturday.
"It'd be great to place," she said. "I feel like I can shave 10 more seconds off."
Senior Tyler O'Leary also will run in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters. In Class 4A, the 1,600 meter finals are at 12:45 p.m. Friday. The 3,200 will be contested at 3:05 p.m. Saturday.
Bowers, Chotvacs and Henderson also will team with senior Hannah Gary in the 400-meter relay after the four took second at regionals last weekend. Gary also will run the 100-meter hurdles.
Sophomore Walker Hammond can count on one hand the number of times he has run the 300-meter hurdles this season, including his preliminary and final runs at regionals. His second-place finish in 41.71 seconds last weekend guaranteed Hammond a shot for at least one more run in Friday's state preliminaries.
"I expected to go to state," Hammond said. "I knew I was pretty good at hurdles. After prelims (at regionals), I knew I could go pretty easy if I had a good run."
Senior Tyler Johnson is familiar with the state track meet, having qualified last season. This year, he is headed to the Class 4A meet in the 100 and 200 meters after picking up two top-two finishes at regionals.
The only finals for Steamboat on Friday are the high jump, triple jump and 1,600 meters. The other events are preliminaries. The top two in each heat and the next three fastest times advance to Saturday's finals.
Sophomore Tara King will attend the state track meet as just one part of a very busy spring. King already placed fifth in No. 4 doubles with Adele Dombrowski at the state tennis tournament held last weekend.
King will run in the 800-meter finals, an event she ran in 2:21.70 last weekend to break the school record -- after driving from Pueblo to Grand Junction the morning of her run. This time around, she should be well-rested by Saturday's event final.
Some of the nation's best prep track and field athletes will be at the state championships.
Peters will run against Liberty's Ashley Owens in the 200, assuming both make the finals. Peters ran against Owens, the nation's top high school sprinter, last year. Owens is seeking her fourth straight titles in the 100 and 200.
"It's cool to even run with her," Peters said. "You are going to see the most amazing runs this weekend."
Owens qualified for state with a 23.77 in the 200 and an 11.49 in the 100. Another runner to watch is Smoky Hill's Katelyn Kaltenbach, the top-ranked female distance runner in the country. She has run a 4:45.32 in the 1,600 and a 10:20.16 in the 3,200. She is in Class 5A.
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208
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