Luke Graham's column appears periodically in the Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4229 or lgraham@SteamboatToday.com.
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No school travels to track and field meets like Soroco.
Friday and Saturday at Stocker Stadium in Grand Junction, there may not have been a more visible and loud presence than the fans from South Routt.
True, as Rams coach David Bruner says, it's been like this all year.
Track meets in West Grand, Rifle, Grand Junction, Moffat County or wherever.
This weekend it was again Grand Junction.
And again, Soroco didn't look like the little Class 2A school. The maroon and white isn't hard to find and even less hard to find when a Rams athlete was on the track.
Of course, it helps when the team is successful and puts athletes through to state like Soroco did during the weekend.
But it's also one of the benefits of a small school.
For the fans - including former athletes, grandparents, parents, sisters, brothers and maybe even a few other transplants - track season becomes a town event.
Not to say other teams didn't have fans. Nearly every school did.
But not a school - Class 2A, 3A or 4A - could boast the amounts of maroon in Grand Junction.
"Our fans are great. They love track," Soroco coach David Bruner said. "They're seeing the kids want to win and work hard. I think the parents really like that."
Apparently, they really like track and field, too.
It never was more evident than the girls 1,600-meter relay.
While the one side of the stadium mostly was reserved and sitting down, there was one section of maroon and white standing up and screaming.
Some even had stopwatches and knew Tatum Lombardi, Traci Schlegel, Katie Grett and Sarajane Rossi had set a school record with a time of 4 minutes, 16.35 seconds - quicker than the athletes did.
Former Soroco track athlete Toni Lombardi ran to congratulate the four, even though they broke the record she had held.
But like Bruner says, the fan support and performance really go hand in hand.
Soroco - despite its size - had an incredible day on the track, qualifying the most teams and individuals of any school in Routt County.
Essentially, when the athletes are excited, the parents are, too.
It also helps during that last 50 or so meters when your cheering section is the biggest and the loudest.
"The fans make a world of difference when the kids are out there busting their butts," Bruner said. "It helps to have those fans cheering them on. As a coach, it makes you feel good about how much the parents care about the kids and the sport."
Now the team prepares to head to Pueblo and the state track meet.
The competition will be tougher, and the field will be deeper. Of course, there will be one constant.
We all know who will have the biggest cheering section.
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