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It is only the beginning of the season for the Pagosa Pirate track and field team, and at this moment the athletes have their eyes on the prize: to get in the top 18.
“Here we are at the beginning of the track season and the kids are working towards top eighteen; if you’re in the top eighteen then you’re going to state,” explained Coach Scott White.
Twenty athletes attended the Avid Invitational in Montrose on Saturday, March 16. This year, the team includes 60 athletes, a much larger number than the last year.
“It was a small meet for us, small amount of kids, but we had some really great results,” said White.
At present, the team includes Toni Stoll, ranked number one in the state in triple jump, and Gabby Pajak, ranked number two in the state in triple jump.
“Right now, we’ve got two girls in the top of the state; there is a good chance they’ll stay in the top two for the rest of the year,” White said. He explained that the girls’ team is looking better and better this year. “Those girls are my two senior leaders and they have started off exactly where we want to them to be.”
Pajak did not attend the meet in Montrose, however she did run in the Runners Roost of Fort Collins on Saturday. She competed against athletes from 5A schools, placing third in the 100 meter hurdles, the 300 hurdles and the triple jump. Currently, Pajak is ranked number two for the 100 hurdles in Colorado 3A.
In Montrose, Stoll placed first in the triple jump with a leap of 35 feet, 9.5 inches, close to four feet farther than her closest opponent. According to White, Stoll is on track to winning the state championship in triple jump and currently tops the ranking in the state in both events.
In addition to her triple jump, Stoll placed first in the girls’ long jump with a distance of 16 feet, 3 inches and placed first in the girls’ 300 hurdles with a time of 52.9 seconds.
The long jump did not count for top-18 consideration, due to it being “wind aided.” However, it did count at the meet, scoring 10 team points.
The boys’ team also came out running and looking great. As league champions the last two years, they start the season with good returning veterans and strong kids.
White explained that one of the biggest highlights at Montrose was the boys’ 4×800 relay. Tyler Greenly, Nick Hutcherson, Colton Polezynski and Daniel Sloan finished first with a time of 8 minutes and 57.54 seconds. They are currently ranked third in the state in 3A.
“Nick Hutcherson is the freshman to watch this year,” White said. “He’s definitely young, but he shows a heck of a lot of promise.”
Senior Sloan also came out looking great, running in both the 400 and the 800 relay.
The Pirates’ top performer for the boys was Polezynksi, a junior, placing second in the boys’ open 800 run with a time of 2:13 and running a split time in the boys 4×800 relay that was only a second off his best time last year. “We have hopes of him going under two minutes this year, which is really good. We really believe he could break a record in the eight hundred,” White explained.
While many returning athletes attended the meet at Montrose, some were still playing basketball. The team had two boys playing basketball who were league champions in track last year. Now that the basketball season is over, the team will change.
“I’ve got some really good basketball players coming out that will really change things,” White explained.
One of the girls’ basketball players is returning state high jump champion Taylor Strohecker.
“I’m really looking forward to a great year. Last year, we had nine girls and this year it looks like we are going to have twenty, and I really think there’s a great core group of girls who haven’t even come out yet because of basketball that show a lot of promise,” said White. “Our boys’ team is way up in numbers, and it kind of remains to be seen where they’re going to be. We lost a really great kid last year as a senior that was second place in the mile. So we’re still kind of figuring out who we are as a team, but our numbers are great.”
This Saturday, the team will compete at the Piedra Vista Invitational, in Farmington N.M.
“Here we go, every week its going to be about if we can get in that top eighteen, stay in that top eighteen,” said the coach.