Luke Graham's column appears periodically in the Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4229 or lgraham@SteamboatToday.com.
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Maybe the most striking thing about the state track meet in Pueblo on Friday and Saturday, was the Soroco boys 3,200-meter relay teams reaction after their event.
Seniors David Roberts and Johnny DeCosta were obviously upset realizing it was the last high school sporting event they'd compete in.
But what was more intriguing was their teammates - underclassmen Michael Schmidt and Peter Daley - equally upset.
See, all four wanted a place on the podium. All four knew it was a reality. But with a fast field, the team finished 11th.
Still, all four said Saturday provided quite a different feeling than three months ago when the four thought the state meet wasn't a reality.
What was the difference in attitudes? How were they able to cut 26 seconds off their personnel bests in a matter of two weeks?
All four - along with the four girls who competed in relays at regionals - had the same answer.
"It's coach (David) Bruner," Roberts said. "Bruner, he's definitely the mastermind. He puts down hard workouts and got us here. He got that mental block out of our head that we couldn't do it. He made sure we had the condition so that we could do it."
Plain and simple, Bruner's got something special brewing down in Oak Creek.
Maybe the most impressive thing about Bruner - who owns four state championships in track and field when he coached in Clayton, N.M. - is he gets his athletes to believe.
The boys relay team, wasn't sure they could make it to state - they did.
The girls relay team of Sarajane Rossi, Traci Schlegel, Toni Lombardi and Tatum Lombardi weren't sure what to expect coming into the season. On Friday, they set the school record in the 1,600-meter relay with three new members.
"Bruner's taught us you're never satisfied until you get first," Rossi said.
Although Bruner appreciates the compliments, like any good coach, he deflects them to the athletes.
"I'm just happy for them," Bruner said after the state meet. "They all performed well."
The best thing, however, is Bruner has a chance to put his teaching techniques to the football field. After struggling last year, Bruner plans to open the offense up, become an attacking team and most importantly become a team that believes.
If track's any indication, Soroco football's in good hands.
As one of Bruner's favorite sayings goes, he'll push you to the edge and then off before catching you.
Friday and Saturday, Soroco athletes were more than happy to subscribe to that Brunerism.
"He did catch us," Tatum Lombardi said. "He did push us. He's just a great coach."
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