Steamboat Springs Soroco High School senior Kyla Schmidt introduced herself to Class 2A runners and coaches during last year's state meet.
In the opening relay on championship day, Schmidt came from the back of the pack on her 400-meter leg of the sprint medley to give the Rams their first state title of the day.
"Last year, she ran close to a 59-second split to win the state championship," Rams coach Gary Heide said. "Kyla will really concentrate on individual events this year. She gave up a lot the last two years to be on relays."
Schmidt is one of five seniors on this year's team. She is the only senior girl, but senior teammates Kieran Corrigan, Nick Rangel, Jesus Garcia and Kyle Hendrickson will try to help lead the way.
Corrigan, like Schmidt, is known for running well in May. This season, the senior middle-distance and distance runner will be a key member of the 3,200- and 1,600-meter relay teams as well as one of the state's best 800- and 1,600-meter runners.
"I see him possibly doing all four at state this year, but he can handle it," Heide said.
Rangel missed qualifying for state last season in the shot put. He again will be one of the region's top throwers and will play a role on relays when needed.
Garcia is a middle-distance and distance runner, and Hendrickson, new to track this season, is more of a sprinter.
"He's running very well," Heide said. "The boys will be very strong in the 400 and 800s."
For the girls, Schmidt will run the open 400 and perhaps the open 100 or 200. She also will long jump and be a member of one relay. It's too early in the season to decide which events will work best for the girls.
"I have seven or eight freshmen girls," Heide said. "All of them will contribute this year, and a couple might be surprises."
Heide knows he can count on veterans Glenda Long, Toni Lombardi, Amanda Wilson, Allie Glawe, Jamie Glawe, Jenny Block and Emily Hallenbeck.
The sophomores and juniors will help put together the Rams' relays. Wilson and Lombardi also are hurdlers.
"I think the girls will be strong in middle distance," Heide said. "The freshmen are more sprinters."
The Rams have few underclass boys on the team.
Much like every track and field team in Northwest Colorado, the Rams have limited outdoor training options. The team primarily has been training in the school and on pavement, which no one enjoys.
"We went out on hard-packed snow the other day," Heide said. "Our first part of the season will be training. We are not trying to peak for any meet. In May, hopefully the warm weather and lower elevation will bring us to where we want to be."
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