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Pirates finish strong at state meet

Staff Writer

Pirate track athletes gave everything they had during state competition last weekend in Lakewood, ending the season with personal bests, broken records and confidence in themselves as competitors.

Senior Taylor Strohecker won her third state championship in the girls’ high jump event. Strohecker cleared an amazing height of 5-06.50 to take home this year’s first-place medal. Strohecker broke the current school record for the event and almost beat the state record of 5-07.

Coach Connie O’Donnell reflected on Strohecker’s win at state in an email to The SUN: “We are so proud of her. Repeating a state championship is hard enough, but doing it three times is almost unheard of. I think that she may be the only three time state champion to graduate from Pagosa Springs high school.

“I can’t think of a more deserving girl,” O’Donnell added. “She is absolutely charming, sweet and humble. She cheered on every one of her teammates in their events for the next two days even though she was finished competing on Thursday. How lucky am I to have had her on my track team?”

Mason Chronowski captured second place during the boys’ high jump competition, clearing a height of 6-03.

According to his coach, Chronowski, currently a senior, is now looking into competing at the collegiate level next year.

“Few people get a chance to be a college athlete,” O’Donnell stated, “and how wonderful to have that opportunity.”

Chronowski also placed in the triple jump, coming in seventh in the state at 40-09.

Reflecting on Chronowski’s performance this weekend in Lakewood, O’Donnell wrote, “I was very impressed with his attitude and demeanor during the competition.”

In the throwing events, Creede Wylie did it again —breaking his own school record in the shot put with a throw of 47-04.75 during the state competition. Wylie broke the first school record of the year at the beginning of May with his shot put throw of 47-02.50. Wylie’s new throw not only landed him a place in the high school record book, but secured him the sixth-place spot on the podium at state.

Wylie also placed in the discus event, winning seventh place at 147-00.

The boys’ 4 x 800 meter relay team rose to the occasion, running hard and placing fifth in the event with a time of 8:22.83. Runners Tate Drane (junior), Tyler Greenly (senior), Nick Hutcherson (sophomore) and David McRee (junior) impressed coach O’Donnell with their level of commitment and their ability to work together during the race.

“I was really proud of David McRee. He ran a competitive opening leg and left it all on the track,” O’Donnell wrote. “Nick Hutcherson, Tyler Greenly and Tate Drane all ran their fastest splits to place the relay. At the beginning of the season, I don’t think that they thought they could be that competitive at the state meet but they ended up placing because by the end of the season they believed in themselves and their teammates.”

Individually, Drane came in 11th in the 800 meter run with a time of 2:01.67.

Drane also competed in the preliminary 400 meter dash, coming in 15th at 53.01; Hutcherson raced in the preliminaries, as well, finishing 17th at 53.53. The preliminary race was tight, with less than three seconds between Drane and the first-place finisher.

The Lady Pirates 4 x 800 relay team — composed of Emily Bryant (senior), Meghan Ellis (freshman), Taylor Lee-Hammer (sophomore) and Madi Lewis (sophomore) —  also did very well, capturing ninth place with a time of 10:11.90.

Pagosa girls’ 4 x 200 relay team of Lee-Hammer, Lewis, Payton Shahan (junior) and Strohecker came in 14th in the preliminary race at 1:54.10. The girls’ 4 x 400 relay team of Taylor Jones (freshman), Lee-Hammer, Lewis and Remy Oney (sophomore) also placed 14th during the preliminary race with a time of 4:19.23.

Individually, Bryant came in 12th during the 1,600 meter run, sprinting in with a time of 5:28.27.

Shahan came in 15th in the triple jump, launching herself forward for a distance of 31-01.

Lewis ran hard in the girls’ 400 meter dash, coming in 13th in the preliminaries with a time of 1:01.20. Lewis’ previous dash time of 1:00.09 during the league meet May 10 made her the new record holder for the girls’ event at Pagosa Springs High School.

O’Donnell wrote that even those athletes who did not place during state competition “still got their personal bests which is all you can really ever ask for.”

Overall, the boys’ team placed 10th at state and the girls’ team placed 23rd.

“We had a great weekend,” the coach said.

Though the start of this year’s track season was a bit hectic, with last-minute coaching changes and a slow turnout of athletes, the team came together. Athletes pushed themselves to run faster and to jump higher. They supported each other by cheering their teammates on from the sidelines, even after their personal competitions were over. They broke three school records and each athlete made improvements throughout the semester.

With the track season now over, Jones and Mathew Breman (sophomore) have been awarded the title of rookies of the year, as “both made a significant impact on the track team as first year competitors in high school track,” O’Donnell informed.

Strohecker and Wylie were deemed the MVPs (most valuable players) of the team, as both earned the most points during the meets, helping to propel the Pirates forward.

This story was posted on May 22, 2014.