Making state a team goal for Hayden track
Hayden — Barack Obama was president the last time the Hayden High School track team qualified a relay to the state track meet.
OK, he was president the last time any school qualified any athlete to the state track and field meet, but it truly has been awhile since a team of Tigers earned the trip to Lakewood for the big dance. Obama was at least in his first term.
Hayden qualified one athlete for state a year ago and hasn’t qualified more than that since 2011, when it sent six, including a 1,600-meter boys relay team.
Soroco and Steamboat have regularly sent more in that time, and both are poised to again send strong teams to state.
Things stand to change this season for Hayden, however, as it is sitting on some of the best track results it’s had in at least a presidential term. The Tigers could send a dozen athletes or more for the state meet, which runs May 18 to 20, and a bunch of relay runners are in position to lead the way.
“That’s our goal,” said coach Pat Moore, in his fifth season. “I’m not superstitious, but I don’t like saying it. I’ve learned that lesson the hard way, getting really excited and then things don’t fall into place.
“I’ve had teams become complacent when they’re in a certain spot, and then they don’t work as hard in practice,” Moore explained. “But this is an entirely different team. That’s not happening.”
The teams with the 18 best times recorded this season will qualify for the state field, and the Tigers have a handful of relay teams in the mix. The girls 800-meter sprint medley relay currently has the 10th-best time in the state, as does the girls 1,600 relay. If that holds, they would not only be comfortably in the field but potentially fighting to make finals and earn a medal.
The boys 1,600 relay team is also in the mix, with the 17th-best time in the state, and the 400 relay and 800 relay teams are both not far out, ranked 24th and 25th respectively.
“It’d be awesome,” sophomore Mason Brewer said, considering the trip to state. “We have to keep on working hard in practice. We have to keep grinding.”
Building relay teams has been a process for the Tigers.
There were just a dozen athletes out for track when Moore first came on board in 2013.
The low numbers meant something like a pulled hamstring on the track or a failed test off of it could sideline one athlete, thus a whole relay team.
Now a key for the team’s relay efforts is depth.
For the girls, Darian Murphy, Allison Ingols, Hannah Wilkie, Faith Day, Alex Camilletti and Paige Barnes have all taken turns on the two relay teams.
Some have commitments elsewhere. Wilkie is the top-ranked Class 2A 800 runner in the state, a threat to win a state championship as a freshman. Makenna Knez, Camilletti, Day and Ingols both could qualify in individual events, as well.
But, relays are now a focus, too, and they could make state.
“That’s our whole goal this year, what we’re putting all of our focus on,” Murphy said. “We’re paying a lot more attention to that this year than we were last year.”
The boys teams are also deep. Mason Brewer, Daylon Frentress, Patrick Hunter, Alan Aguirre, Garrett St. Clair, Chris Carrouth and Devlyn Mosman have all rotated in this season.
“Handoffs are the big thing,” Hunter said. “If we get our handoffs down, we’ll be fine.”
Carrouth, Dawson Herfurth and Christian Carson have shots at qualifying individually.
The training is harder this year, the Tigers said, and that’s shown in their improved times. A year ago, several relay teams finished in the top 30, but none had realistic shots at making the top 18.
This year, two should and as many as five could.
“We’ve started a new training program,” Barnes said. “We’re hurting every practice. Our ultimate goal is to get there, so we’re hurting with each other.”
None of the Tigers are ready to proclaim themselves state qualified. There’s too much season left, too much opportunity for other teams to edge them out.
But, the squad is working as hard as it has recently to ensure this year’s trip to the state meet for the team could require a school bus instead of a passenger car.
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