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O’Leary, Hooper join Steamboat state field

Expectations for the Steamboat Springs girls track and field team must be high when a second-place finish at the largest meet of the season is a little disappointing.

“They are used to winning,” Sailors coach Andy Reust said.

Steamboat finished second to Fruita-Monument, and while the Sailors may be upset they didn’t win, they did beat 22 teams, including some of the largest schools in Colorado.



More than 900 athletes from 24 teams took part in the two-day Tiger Track Invitational at Stocker Stadium, the site of this weekend’s regional meet.

“We raced very well,” Reust said. “The meet was twice as big as any meet we’ve been to.”



The two-day meet was a state qualifier, and two Steamboat athletes took advantage of their opportunity — and fast fields — to run races below the 4A cut-off times.

Senior Tyler O’Leary and junior Jen Hooper pre-qualified in the 3,200 meters with runs of 10 minutes, 9 seconds and 12:04, respectively. Both were personal-best times of the year for the runners.

Hooper finished second in the race, while O’Leary came in sixth, providing some indication of how deep the field was at the weekend meet. The winner finished in 9:46.

“I give Tyler credit for not going out and trying to run with (the leaders),” Reust said. “We didn’t have any times (for the leaders before the race) so I couldn’t tell him what to do. He figured it out himself.”

Hooper and junior Katie Conrath placed fifth and sixth in the 1,600 meters, as well. Hooper ran a 5:39, while Conrath turned in her fastest time of the season, a 5:42, which was good enough for eighth in an equally competitive girls field.

Steamboat’s sprint medley team of sophomore Missy Chotvacs, sophomore Hannah Bowers, freshman Patricia Henderson and sophomore Jessica Peters placed first in 1:52.72, which also was a state pre-qualifying time, but it wasn’t a season-best time for the team.

Peters, despite missing several days of practice because of the flu, won the 400 in 59.48 and placed second in the 200 in 26.58.

“She didn’t want to run the 400; I told her she had to,” Reust said. “Coming in with 60 meters left, she was in third. Where she dug down to get it, I don’t know, but she dug down deep and got it.”

Reust also was surprised by Peters’ second-place finish in the 200 after it appeared as if she finished fourth. In addition, Peters placed second in the high jump, clearing 5 feet, 2 inches.

Chotvacs placed second in the triple jump, leaping 32-10 3/4. Junior teammate Kayla Kostur was fourth in 31-10 3/4.

Senior Hannah Gary, after a disappointing result in Moffat County a week ago, turned in a 16.82 to finish fourth in the 100-meter hurdles.

Steamboat’s 3,200-meter relay team of Hooper, Conrath, senior Lindsay Stanford and sophomore Tara King placed fifth in 10:33.

The Sailors also scored points with the rarely used 400-meter and 800-meter relay teams.

Chotvacs, Bowers, Gary and Henderson turned in a 52.68 to place seventh in the 400-meter relay. Reust was impressed with the quartet’s time and said, assuming the four have solid handoffs, there’s a chance the team could qualify for state this weekend at regionals.

The 800-meter relay team of junior Mackenzie Frank, Bowers, Chotvacs and Henderson ran a 1:52.11 to place seventh. To qualify for state, Reust said the group has to improve by at least 3 seconds.

“Can they do it? Yes,” Reust said. “They will have to run, but they can do it.”

On the boys’ side, Steamboat scored just 16.5 points, and senior Tyler Johnson accounted for 14 of them. (O’Leary scored the rest).

Johnson placed third in the 200 in 23.39, fourth in the 100 in 11.45 and tied for fifth in the high jump, clearing 5-10.

Only one meet remains before the state meet May 21 and 22 in Denver. For those who have not pre-qualified, the regional meet to be held Friday and Saturday in Grand Junction is the last chance to make the state field. The top three individuals and teams in each event receive a berth.

— To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com


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