Steamboat Springs Soroco High School track coach David Bruner has found there’s no point strongarming athletes into joining his program. He coaches football and girls basketball, as well, and he always makes a point to speak to the benefits of joining the school’s track team, that track can offer the best kind of offseason training for an athlete no matter that athlete's favorite sport.
“You can become better in other sports just from running track,” Bruner said. “But if they don’t want to be out there, I don’t push them.”
It wasn’t that Ryan Jeep didn’t believe that. It’s just that the Soroco senior had a spring sport. He’s been one of the few Rams to make the daily after-school trek to play with the Steamboat Springs High School baseball team.
He didn’t change his mind this year, either. He’s a fixture playing with the Sailors, one of the reliable arms on the mound and a big bat in the lineup. But in his senior season, he decided he couldn’t pass on one last chance to represent Soroco.
This spring, in his final year as a high school athlete, Jeep is out for track for the first time.
“I thought it would be fun, just one last hurrah with my senior buddies,” he said. “I just wanted to have fun with my class and school.”
In a lot of ways, sports have come easily for Jeep, 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds. He’s been a force on the football field and the basketball court throughout his stay at Soroco.
And elements of track have come easily, too. He finished second in the high jump Friday at the Clint Wells Invitational at Moffat County High School and is in line to make the state championships in that event.
Other events, however, have proven that being big and strong isn’t enough.
“I threw discus for a little while, but the footwork is so tough,” he said. “In shot, you need good form, but it’s not close to discus.”
Still, Bruner said Jeep has proven to be an asset to the team, even as he’s split practice time with baseball and missed several meets for that sport, which remains his priority.
Jeep runs the anchor in the 400- and 800-meter relays, and those squads are both on track to compete at state, as well.
“It’s pretty interesting watching the kid,” Bruner said. “You don’t see many anchor legs weigh over 200 pounds or who are nearly that big.”
Jeep is, of course, considering his future as the season winds down. He’s considering playing either baseball or basketball in college and has his eyes on colleges from Indiana to Southern California. This summer, he hopes to play baseball again in Steamboat or perhaps with a traveling team that will hit tournaments in the Southwest.
First, though, he’s got a month left of high school, and he’s intent on soaking it all up, on the diamond and the track.
“I’m a senior, so there’s not any future, but I just wanted to have fun with track,” he said. “It’s been great. I wish I would have been doing it since I was a freshman.”
To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9