Craig Friday's Clint Wells Invitational track meet at Moffat County High School was anything but forgiving.
Winds touched 50 mph, temperatures dipped into the low 40s and most teams chalked the meet up to just some more experience outside.
Except Soroco High School.
The Rams have had a mighty bout with lingering winter conditions this season. Weather has played the jester's role, repeatedly dumping snow and making practices brutal.
But through that, coach David Bruner said this year's Rams have built a certain type of character - a character the veteran track coach really likes.
"They worked their rear ends off every day, and it pays off," Bruner said. "Sometimes they don't like the workouts, but they get through them even when it's snowing or the wind is blowing 40 mph. They get through them and they push through it. Our kids have a lot of character. They're disciplined. They're willing to do whatever I ask out of them, and I do ask a lot out of them."
It's no surprise, then, that Soroco not only made it through Friday's meet, but did so with some of the team's best times of the year.
The girls 800-meter and sprint medley relay teams set personal bests for the season, as did the boys 1,600-meter relay team. The girls 1,600-meter relay team ran the same time as they did at last year's event in Craig - except then, temperatures and conditions were much better.
"I'm proud of all them," Bruner said. "I think conditions-wise, what we've trained in and the way we've ran so well, I guess I shouldn't be surprised. It should be interesting when we get some warm weather."
Maybe the most impressive time of the day came from the girls 800-meter relay team. Tatum Lombardi, Sarajane Rossi, Glenda Long and Traci Schlegel ran their fastest time yet and looked like strong contenders to repeat as regional champions in two weeks.
"I think the weather is making us tougher because we train in it," Lombardi said. "I feel pretty confident because we're all running at about the same times. We're starting to get comfortable with the handoffs and the starts."
Other Soroco top finishes included Schlegel, third in the 300-meter hurdles; Rossi, second in the 400-meter dash; Dennis Morgan, ninth in the shot put and fifth in the discus; Alex Estes, seventh in the long jump; and Cody Miles, eighth in the long jump.
Only a freshman at Hayden High School, Chris Zirkle is rapidly making his mark in the 3,200-meter run.
Zirkle, who broke the school record last week, finished third Friday with another strong performance.
Despite falling back into the second wave of runners, Zirkle paced himself perfectly and appeared to finish second after a final sprint.
"I didn't want to get boxed in those first couple of laps," Zirkle said. "The wind was not fun. Turning the first corner is rough and not fun at all. You feel like you're moving super slow."
Tigers coach Barbara Manzanares said although the conditions made it tough to produce top times, she came away feeling confident about next week's league meet in West Grand.
"Overall I'm pleased with it," she said. "I wish we could have had better weather, but you take what God gives you."
Holli Salazar continued her hot streak, winning the shot put and finishing third in the discus. Delanie Vedepo finished fourth in the 1,600-meter run, Kirsten Miller finished fourth in the 100-meter hurdles, Jade Stees finished fifth in the long jump, Coy Letlow finished fifth in the 100-meter dash and Murphy Smartt finished third in the high jump to help the Hayden cause.
"We're really hoping to place well at league," Manzanares said. "I think we will. I think the kids are getting there and then we'll move onto regionals after that. We're headed in the right direction."
Steamboat finishes well
With Steamboat on spring break, Friday's meet allowed for a little shake-up.
Traditional distance runners found themselves in sprinting events, which many runners had never done.
Buddy Kinder and Peter Daley, normally long distance runners, filled spots in the 300-meter hurdle and 200-meter dash.
"It's fun to experiment at fun meets like this and see what you can do," Kinder said. "When you have the opportunity to go out and run a 200, why not?"
Daley, who has been to only one meet this year, also was able to do the 800-meter run for the second time this year. Daley is expected to team up with John Cutter, Charlie Stoddard and Tyler Hutson to run the 3,200-meter relay at the regional meet. It's an event the four runners have been looking forward to for a long time.
"Our main goal is the 4x8," Daley said. "I don't know what kids are going to be qualifying in open events, but we definitely have a shot at the 4x8."