Running deep |

Running deep

Sizable Steamboat track and field squad looks to regionals

Barbara Lezin works out with the Steamboat Springs High School track team Wednesday afternoon.
John F. Russell

2007 Steamboat Springs track and field schedule

Saturday, Delta Invitational, 8 a.m.

Mar. 24, Mickey Dunn Invitational, Ralph Stocker Stadium, Grand Junction, time TBA

Mar. 31, Joe Shields Invitational, West Grand High School, 8 a.m.

April 7, Frank Woodburn Palisade Invitational, Stoker Stadium, 8 a.m.

April 14, Glenwood Springs Demon Invitational, 8 a.m.

April 20, Rifle Invitational, time TBA

April 27, Clint Wells Invitational, Moffat County High School, 3:30 p.m.

May 4, Tiger Invitational, Stocker Stadium, 3:30 p.m.

May 5, Tiger Invitational, Stocker Stadium, 8 a.m.

May 11-12, Regionals, Stocker Stadium, 8 a.m.

May 18-19, State Track & Field Championships, Jefferson County Stadium

— Steamboat Springs track and field head coach Andy Reust has had it with the Chevy Suburbans. Based on the size of this year’s team (pushing nearly 50 kids signed up on the roster), Reust expects nothing less than needing a bus to take a full load of qualified athletes to the Class 4A State Track and Field Championships in May.

But it was still a little earlier on Wednesday for Reust to determine just who would fill those coveted spots.

“There’s so many unknowns at this point,” Reust said. “We’ve got a lot of new juniors out and a good group of freshmen boys and girls.”

It was also hard for the coach to gauge skill when Wednesday was the team’s first practice with access to its track. The final layer of snow on a few track lanes was cleared all day on Wednesday by the combined efforts of a Steamboat Springs School District tractor, Reust’s own Bobcat utility machine-mounted blower and the track athletes, shoveling in foursomes during practice.

Reust said having a pair of track turns open would be invaluable in teaching hand-offs to the kids, before they head to Delta for their first meet of the season on Saturday.

The practice also gave the team’s throwers their first outdoor tosses.

“To get field time was big,” Westin Cofer said.

“Other teams have had a month to train outside,” Stephen Bell said.

“But at least we’re fast learners,” Cofer joked.

Bell and Cofer are two of only five seniors returning to the team in addition to long-distance runners Matt Hill, Lee Wren and short-distance runner Patricia Henderson.

Cofer and Hill are Steamboat’s two returning state qualifiers. Both already are intently focused on the goal of breaking Steamboat’s record books on their way to state qualification, Cofer eyeing the 160-foot, 4 3/4-inch discus record and Hill gunning for times in the 800-, 1600- and 3200-meters.

“We should be good with the depth of the team that’s better and bigger,” Hill said. “It helps with more people.”

The team returns a slew of athletes who scored in the regional meet last year, but just missed state qualification – distance runner Brittany Long, fourth-place regional discus thrower Lizzie Stoll, hurdler and jumper Darren Burke, 400-meter standout Tyler Hutson and fourth-place, 200-meter regional finisher Chelsea Mosser.

Hill was confident that the four-by-400 relay team of himself, Hutson, John Cutter and senior newcomer Garrett Brew was a combination ready to make immediate waves in Delta.

Reust still knows it is too early to make predictions of what combinations will work best and which athletes will emerge as many still have too few practices to compete or are still tied up in other winter sports.

“We’ve gotta make friends with all these freshmen, get them working and get them to know what’s going on,” said junior Mike Stewart, who returns from a sophomore season spent working for a spot on a sprawling track team in Modesto, Calif., and ready to start competing in sprint and jump events.

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