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Pirate track team a work in progress

The Pirate track team competed at its second meet of the season last week at Aztec, N.M. and continued with what Coach Scott White termed a “building” phase in its development.

The Aztec meet included 12 teams. The Pirate girls took sixth place in the final standings, the boys ninth.

“We’re not up to full speed yet,” said White, noting the fact that athletes involved in the recent state basketball tournament are just now returning to the track.

White was pleased with the performance of many of the Pirate girls at Aztec.

“The girls were strong,” said the coach. “We’re a jump academy this year.”

White was referring to the return of two members of last year’s team who excelled in field events — Gabby Pajak and Toni Stoll.

Pajak posted a distance of 17 feet, 1 inch in the long jump at Aztec, breaking her personal record from last year. Pajak also qualified for the finals in the 400-meter race and the 100 hurdles, but was unable to participate due to another extracurricular commitment.

“Gabby is a very strong four-hundred runner,” said White, “and currently is number one in Colorado 3A in the long jump.”

Stoll took first place in triple jump at Aztec, hitting 34-3, and took fifth in long jump. Stoll was second in the 100 hurdles.

“Toni is already running in the 17-second range,” said the coach of the Pirate’s performance in the 100 hurdles. Stoll was third in the 300 hurdles and currently ranks in the top three in triple jump in Colorado Class 3A.

Danielle Pajak was third in the 800 with a good run at 2 minutes, 39 seconds.

“It’s nice to have dedicated senior leadership,” said White. “Danielle is a hard worker and the younger girls look up to her.”

Katie Armbrecht should provide points this year in field events. Armbrecht, said White, is improving each week in shot and javelin competition.

Two Pirate girls look to be setting a good pace in distance events. Mele Lelievre was eighth in the mile at Aztec and took seventh in the 3,200. Freshman Dana Danielson was fifth in the 3,200 and 10th in the 1,600.

In what the coach called a “meet highlight,” Taylor Strohecker finished second in high jump.

White expects more from the girls when several basketball players round into form as the season progresses.

“I’m looking forward to Emily and Breezy Bryant coming back,” he said, “and I am excited about Brooklynn DuCharme coming back and throwing discus. She has already thrown eighty-five to ninety feet in practice.”

On the boys’ side, White pointed to the performance by junior Zerek Jones who finished sixth in the 200 and third in high jump, not having practiced in the pit yet this year.

Garrett Stoll took third in triple jump with a leap of 39-3.

“Garrett has to stay healthy,” said White. “He’s going to focus on triple jump this year.”

Carlos Brinkmann was fourth in the 3,200 and Colton Polezynski was eighth in the race.

“Both these guys dropped lots of time in the mile and two-mile races,” said the coach. “They are looking strong.”

White also singled out junior Matt Baker for his work in the 400.

“I’m looking forward to having kids back,” said White of basketball players returning to the team. “We’ll have Zach Lucero back in the 800 and I predict he will be under two minutes this year.

“I think time will tell. Now we need to get through a couple meets and spring break. After that, things will start to fall into place. We have sixty-five kids out for the team this season, with a lot of promise.”

The Pirates travel to their first in-state meet Saturday, at Center.

“With the weather in the San Luis Valley this time of year,” said the coach, “we should get some good wind resistance training.”

It will also mark a chance for team members to begin to put times and distances in the books, with an eye on the state meet at season’s end. In the past, athletes qualified for state competition by posting a time or distance that beat an established standard, or by qualifying at a regional meet.

This season, the system changes: The top 18 times or distances in each event at season’s end advance to the state meet.

“There’s no more region,” said White. “You have to be ranked in the top eighteen. This way, the kids can see where they fit each week.”

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