As the Soroco boys track and field team accepted the Region 5 team championship plaque Saturday, the obvious question came to mind.
Is this year's team better than the 2004 bunch that won four state titles and finished third overall.
"I think so," coach Gary Heide said. "I wouldn't have believed it two months ago. I wouldn't have believed it two weeks ago. The emergence of Kieran (Corrigan), Tony (Iacovetto), Matt (Iacovetto) and Nick (Rangel) has made the difference."
En route to scoring 99 points, the Rams picked up five regional titles and one runner-up finish. Ten Soroco boys scored, including Andy deGanahl and Corrigan, who each won individual regional titles.
Corrigan took first in the 1,600 meters Saturday in 4 minutes, 46.55 seconds. He also placed second in the 800 meters Friday, breaking a school record in the process with a time of 2:04.07. DeGanahl, the two-time defending Class 2A state champion in the 200 and 400 meters, won both events Saturday and anchored two other relays to victory. His time of 49.12 was a new Region 5 meet record in the 400 meters.
The Rams also set a new regional record in the 800-meter relay when the team of Matt Iacovetto, Steve Meade, Tony Iacovetto and deGanahl crossed the finish line in 1:32.48.
But as usual, the Rams saved their best for last -- the 1,600-meter relay. The Rams are the defending state champions in the event, but their pre-regional times were more than two seconds off the pace of Limon.
Heide inserted Corrigan for Meade after Corrigan ran a faster split in practice last week. Soroco was hoping to do no worse. Instead, the Rams have a legitimate chance to defend the title after posting a 3:31.68 on Saturday, one of the spring's best times. The next closest regional team, Hayden, was nearly nine seconds behind.
"We were worried about Limon," Tony Iacovetto said. "I think that sends a message to Limon."
The Soroco girls team did its own version of message sending Saturday. The quartet of Melissa Roy, Nichole Wilson, Kyla Schmidt and Karli Babcock dominated the sprint relays, winning the 400-meter and 800-meter relays and the 800-meter medleys. No race was close.
"We were expecting that," Roy said.
Last year, the girls placed second in two relays and left Pueblo bitter. This year, the same four head back as the favorites to win as many as three titles. Couple that with the four titles the boys could win, and the Rams head to Dutch Clark Stadium in an enviable position.
The Class 2A/3A State Track and Field Champ--ionships open Friday in Pueblo.