Janice Kurbjun
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March 8, 2013
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Track's incoming class boosts numbers, speed

The future is completely unknown for the Summit High track and field team.

After one week of practice, head coach Kristy McClain isn't sure how the team will turn out.

"About the time you say someone will go, it comes back to haunt you," she said, later adding, "The most important thing is that the kids work hard and train hard and enjoy their time in track."

Still, she's hopeful to qualify more than one student for the state meet, as the team did last year with Ridge Strickler. Strickler ran the 400 meter dash in 51.39 seconds, placing 10th in the event.

The team, which grew from about 20 to 70 athletes turning out for the sport this year, has gained plenty of speed, though McClain was reluctant to say which athletes are bringing it to the track.

"We have so many new freshmen, which is awesome, so that's a great building block for the future. We have a lot of fast kids. ... It will be exciting to see the first meet," she said.

Senior Shane Arnold, who runs the 800-meter and the mile and is considered a jumper by his peers, was more willing to identify his outstanding peers, particularly the speedy freshmen.

McKenna Ramsay, for instance, will be one to watch on the track this year. She runs the 400-meter dash in 58 seconds.

"For a girl, that's wicked fast, and for a freshman, is like mind-blowing. That puts her in the top 20 in the country or something like that (among eighth-graders), when I Googled it, which I don't know how accurate that is, but it's wicked fast. She'll probably go to state," Arnold said. "That's hauling."

A good time for a high school boy is in the mid- to low-50s. State champions will often break 50 seconds.

He also pointed to Ruthie Boyd, who was a cross-country standout along with Ramsay.

"She beats McKenna every once in awhile," Arnold said.

On the boys' side, Parker Shell has caught his eye. Though Arnold hasn't seen him run, the two compete together on the Nordic ski team.

"He makes me feel bad, because I just started skiing and he beats me, and he's (much smaller)," Arnold said.

Aside from those who are particularly fast, the team has depth.

"If you have more kids to choose from, more depth of talent, ... that will definitely give us a better chance (of making state meet)," McClain said.

There are also some key returners on the team this year, such as Arnold, Ben Sloan, Nicholas Eliopoulos and Crystal Nichols.

They view their role as one of experienced leadership.

"It's our job to be the leaders," Nichols said. "Even though we have seen the team go through its ups and downs and its small-team days, now that we have a big team, it's our job to step up and challenge them and push them."

"We have a lot of fast new kids coming in. We'll have to do a lot of growth, but in four years, we'll have an amazing team and it will be fun to see them start out," Arnold said, adding that relays will likely be the closest, team-building experiences, as the runners will be of all ages.

The quartet of seniors have their eyes set on certain goals, even if they're not official goals of the team, like qualifying athletes for the state meet - and maybe even an entire team. Eliopoulos foresees possibly breaking a few school records, and Sloan hopes to see growth in an already strong jumping team.

"We have a great team. We have a ton of great freshmen coming out, and I think that we're going to have a great season. I think we have a lot of potential this season," Nichols said.

Arnold is hoping that being part of the Western Slope Conference will give the team a leg up this year, too. "This league might be a little slower, so we might score a little higher, but I'm not sure at all," he said, chuckling.

The team gets an extra week of practice, now that today's meet is cancelled. They'll head to Rifle next weekend.


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The Summit Daily Updated Mar 8, 2013 10:01PM Published Mar 8, 2013 09:57PM Copyright 2013 The Summit Daily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.