Sailors crown five champions

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The Steamboat Springs boys track and field team has found its 3,200-meter relay team.

After weeks of tinkering with lineups, coach Andy Reust signed up Matt Hill, Andy Garber, Walker Hammond and Alec Nelson for Saturday's race at the Palisade Invitational.

The quartet won the race, finishing in 8 minutes, 22.9 seconds, easily the best time of the season -- and the past several years -- for the Sailors.

In fact, the school's history in the event is so hazy, no one knows what the school record is. Former coaches think it is between the 8:15 and 8:22 marks.

Either way, this year's team is capable of beating it.

"Now the 4-by-8 is set," Reust said. "I would have been tickled with an 8:35 considering Andy Garber was the only one healthy. I knew it was going to be better once Matt and Andy went."

The 3,200-meter relay title helped the Steamboat boys place sixth out of the 18-team field, a respectable showing for a team that struggled to fill events a season ago.

Nelson also took third in the open 800 meters with a time of 2:05. Hammond was third in the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 43.05, a personal best this season.

Hammond and Nelson teamed with Pat Ayres and Harrison Mader to place third in the 800-meter relay in 1:36.36.

Hill was fifth in the 1,600 meters. The 400-meter relay team of Ayres, Michael Stewart, Jake Stanford and Jay Hanley also was fifth.

Garber, Mill, Tyler Hutson and Mader were seventh in the 1,600-meter relay.

Hanley took seventh in the 200 meters, as well, running a personal best time of 25.01.

Hanley, Stanford and Stewart are freshmen.

"(The freshmen) are starting to figure it out, and they are getting there," Reust said. "It takes awhile."

Reust pointed out that Stan--ford continues to improve his leaps in the long jump, as well. He has gone from jumping 17 feet, 6 inches, to a personal-best 18-4 last weekend. Stanford didn't place, but he made the finals.

Several of Steamboat's youngest female track and field athletes also are coming on, Reust said. The combination of rookie and veteran runners has done little to take away from the girls' success.

On Saturday, the Steamboat girls placed second behind Class 5A Fruita-Monument, despite having no distance runners or hurdlers able to run.

Jessica Peters won the 100 and 400 meters with times of 12.87 and 60.39, respectively. Peters was just 0.02 seconds off pre-qualifying for state in the 400. She also placed second in the 200 in 27.1 and cleared 5-3 to take second in the high jump.

"The weather could have been better," Reust said. "It was windy. It was cloudy, but the rain held off until right after we got done."

The 400-meter team of Missy Chotvacs, Hannah Bowers, Chelsea Mosser and Patricia Henderson also took home a Palisade Invitational title, winning with a time of 1:52.05.

The same four took second in the 400-meter relay with a time of 52.86.

Chotvacs won the triple jump, leaping 33-10, and Kayla Kostur was second with a jump of 32-11 3/4.

Kostur also took third in the high jump, clearing 5-2 and was second in the long jump, leaping 15-8 1/4.

"That's a personal best for Kayla," Reust said. "She keeps getting better and better."

The same holds true for Kostur, Lizzie Stoll and Erin Gleason in the throwing events.

Last year, the Sailors did not score points in the shot put or discus, but they are looking for anything extra to help them repeat as regional champions this season.

"The goal is to get Lizzie and Erin to 30 feet in the shot," Reust said. "Saturday, Kayla threw a personal best in the discus, so did Lizzie. We keep getting better, and a point here and there will help."

Steamboat's next meet is the North Park Invitational on Thursday in Craig. The Sailors are taking just eight athletes because of injuries and early departures for spring break, but 23 athletes, mostly younger runners and jumpers, will be going to Glenwood Springs on Saturday to compete in individual events.

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