Schmidt ignores wind |

Schmidt ignores wind

Soroco senior wins 400, qualifies for state track tournament

Melinda Mawdsley

Four meets. Four state qualifiers.

The Soroco High School track and field team added another name to its Class 2A State Track and Field Championships contingent when senior Kyla Schmidt won the 400 meters during Thursday’s Hayden Invitational.

Teammates Genessa Heide (200 meters), Kieran Corrigan (1,600 meters) and Nick Rangel (discus) qualified for state earlier this season, but Schmidt’s state-qualifying time of 1 minute, 2.5 seconds came in a stiff wind, impressing her coaches even more.

“That Paonia girl beat Kyla last week,” Soroco coach Gary Heide said. “Kyla was not going to let that happen again.”

Paonia’s Brittany Venard held the lead for 370 meters, but Schmidt, known for her final 200, caught her opponent on the homestretch at the Moffat County track.

“I am very competitive,” Schmidt said. “I knew I had to qualify. I didn’t have another chance for two weeks.”

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Schmidt acknowledged that Venard played a part, setting a pace that she was forced to match. In an effort to ignore the wind and run her own race, Schmidt pretended she was anchoring a relay. After all, she anchored the 800-meter medley to a state championship last season.

“I wish I could run an open with a baton in my hand,” Schmidt said. “I’ve grown up with a baton in my hand. It’s kind of natural for me.”

Schmidt got that chance in the final event of the meet, anchoring Soroco’s 1,600-meter relay for a come-from-behind win. Schmidt caught Vail Christian’s anchor leg on the final corner.

For the second-straight week, the Rams won the boys and girls 1,600-meter relays, sending the team home with momentum and a reason to practice even harder.

The boys team — Johnny DeCosta, Steve Meade, Kyle Hendrickson and Corrigan — nearly qualified for state in the 1,600-meter relay with a time of 3:40.05.

It was less than a second short, but the wind, and the fact that the team ran out in front alone for most of the race, played a role.

“It’s amazing how Kyle came out this year and picked it up,” Corrigan said. “Johnny and Steve, they’ll drop times. Everybody is dropping seconds like crazy. All this new blood has really uplifted the team.”

The new blood has come in the form of a great freshman class as well as upperclassmen opting to run track this spring.

Hendrickson and Genessa Heide are fresh faces. Another is Sarajane Rossi, a member of the 1,600-meter and 3,200-meter relays and a great 800 runner. She placed second in the 800 in 2:43.74 on Thursday.

“I learn so much from each race,” Rossi said. “I’m so much more above where I used to be.”

The Rams will be tested Saturday when they take part in the Demon Invitational in Glenwood Springs. Steamboat Springs also will be in Glenwood.

— To reach Melinda Mawdsley, call 871-4208 or e-mail