Holli Salazar, a 2009 Hayden graduate, throws the hammer for Colorado State University-Pueblo. Salazar, a sophomore, holds the indoor shot put and weight school records as well as the outdoor hammer throw record.

CSU-Pueblo Athletic Department/courtesy

Holli Salazar, a 2009 Hayden graduate, throws the hammer for Colorado State University-Pueblo. Salazar, a sophomore, holds the indoor shot put and weight school records as well as the outdoor hammer throw record.

Hayden's Salazar leaving mark on CSU-Pueblo track and field team

2009 Hayden High School graduate setting records for Thunderwolves

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— It didn’t take long for 2009 Hayden High School graduate Holli Salazar to leave a lasting legacy at Colorado State University-Pueblo.

Despite being just a sophomore for the Thunderwolves, Salazar’s name already litters the record books. She holds the indoor shot put record and weight throw record and the outdoor hammer throw record.

Those who know Salazar aren’t surprised by her achievements in the program, which returned to CSU-Pueblo three years ago after a hiatus.

“She’s a great athlete,” Hay­den track coach Barbara Man­za­nares said. “She doesn’t let a setback get her down. She’s disappointed, but recovers from it. Her determination is probably the best thing about her.”

Said CSU-Pueblo coach Chad Perry: “She is a talent. She’s athletic, and she does the little things and fine-tuning to get better.”

Salazar is just carrying on from an illustrious high school career. She won the Class 2A state shot put competition her junior year and finished third her senior year. She was dominant on the volleyball court and the basketball court and is the only local athlete to be twice named Routt County Female Athlete of the Year by the Steamboat Pilot & Today.

“I figured it would take at least a couple years to get” the records, Salazar said. “Especially in the new events I just learned. But my goal has always been to just get better each week.”

Going from small-town Hay­den to Pueblo brought its challenges, however.

Salazar threw the disc and shot in high school. In college, she had to learn the weight and hammer throw, two heavily technique-driven events. But Salazar’s lack of experience with the weight and hammer throws didn’t stop Perry from recruiting her.

“I really watched her as a basketball player,” said Perry, who saw Salazar play hoops at the state tournament in Pueblo. “She was good at all three of her sports. I look for really athletic people that can move across the ring. I knew she’d pick up the hammer and the weight because her feet aren’t slow.”

When the team has meets, it practices five days a week. Practice is six days a week on non-meet weeks.

After adjusting to school, work and the training schedule her first semester, Salazar said she started to feel more comfortable. Although she has battled a bit of a sophomore slump, Perry said Salazar has the right skill set and mindset to do well.

Salazar, who is studying athletic training, recently was named the 2010-11 Ramada Scholar-Athlete in women’s track and field for her abilities on the playing field and in the classroom.

Salazar said she has goals of placing in the top three in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference meet and getting to nationals, where she’d eventually like to place.

Should Salazar continue on her athletic career arc, Perry said, those goals won’t be a problem.

“Holli does it all,” he said. “She’s very good. I don’t have to push her too hard in academics. She’s doing good in the classroom and doing good on the competitive side. She’s already done some really good things for our program.”

— To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or e-mail lgraham@SteamboatToday.com

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