Cofer, Hill running full steam to state

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— Next weekend at the Palisade meet in Grand Junction is when the real season starts for Steamboat Springs distance runner Matt Hill.

Hill, who easily won the 1,600- and 800-meter dashes Saturday at the Joe Shield's Invitational in Kremmling, knows next weekend will be his first real test of the year.

Saturday "was a slow race, so it was more just going for a win," he said. "It was so windy, no one would have run fast anyway."

Still, Hill was impressive in both events. In the 1,600-meter dash, Hill hung back in second place for most of the race before turning it on the last 200 meters to get an easy win.

In the 800-meter dash, Hill led the whole way and increased his lead even more the last 100 meters.

Hill's times of 4 minutes, 48 seconds in the 1,600-meter and 2:11 in the 800-meter events were just off the pace of pre-qualifying for the state meet.

Next week, with tough runners from Moffat County and Battle Mountain scheduled to compete, Hill said his goal will be to pre-qualify.

"Next week, it will be going full boat," he said.

While the conditions made it tough for any of the athletes to pre-qualify for state, Steamboat's Westin Cofer showed why he's one of the premier throwers in Class 4A. After Cofer finished third in the shot put, one spot behind teammate Jay Hanley, Cofer's throw of 148-1 on his first attempt in the discus made him the first Steamboat athlete to qualify for the state meet.

Steamboat coach Andy Reust said he was happy with the results at the meet, even though the Sailors were without a full contingent of competitors.

"At this point, the kids competing for the first three or four track meets is the most important thing," Reust said. "Where we can put kids is what we need to find out, especially when you have 35 boys out."

Other Steamboat placers included: Lizzie Stoll, fourth in discus, fifth in shot put and sixth in triple jump; Brittany Long, fifth in 1,600 meter dash and sixth in 800-meter dash; Katherine Lynch, sixth in 1,600-meter dash and seventh in 800-meter dash; Heidi Lord, fourth in triple jump; Darren Burke, seventh in 110-meter hurdles; Colby Kostur, fifth in high jump; Joe Dover, eighth in long jump; and Tyler Hutson, fifth in 200-meter dash and fourth in 400-meter dash. The boys' 4x100 meter relay also finished in fourth place.

Reust said he hopes the upcoming tournament in Grand Junction starts to show what type of team the Sailors can be.

"It depends on how many kids we have there, if it's going to be a big one," he said. "Hopefully we have enough kids there that we can put together some relays we want. Hopefully we get a little warmer weather too."

- To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229

or e-mail lgraham@steamboatpilot.com

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