Summit High track and field seniors talk inspiration in the season of the hurdler | SummitDaily.com

Summit High track and field seniors talk inspiration in the season of the hurdler

It's never easy losing a strong group of state-qualified seniors. But when that group is replaced by a crop of talented freshmen and sophomores, including the most hurdlers Summit High has attracted in years? This whole rebuilding thing might not be so bad.

"It's a rebuilding year, but we look strong and I think we're going to have a great season," said Kristy McClain, head coach for the Summit High track and field team, after the team's fourth meet of the season in mid-March. "I say this every year, but we have a great group of kids. It makes it a lot of fun to watch them run and jump and throw."

It doesn't hurt that McClain has a strong (if small) group of senior captains to pass the torch, so to speak. Sure, the team lost elite athletes like McKenna Ramsay, Ruthie Boyd and Nate Martin last season, but they are avid mentors — and good friends — to this year's seniors: Katie Mason, Meghan Sockett, Eric Robinson, Daniel Keller. Those four are in their final season, and above all else, they've bought into their head coach's rebuilding philosophy.

"I was close with the seniors last year, so it was daunting to be one of the last seniors this year," said Mason, who ran cross-country in the fall and is now track and field captain. "But it's been great to bond and meet so many people over the years. … Coaches have been telling me the best thing a captain can do is inspire kids to come back year after year. If we show how we've loved this — how we've been committed — then we're doing our job."

New faces, new records

The Summit High track and field team is a little past the halfway point of the season — the team has three meets remaining before the league finals in Grand Junction from May 5-6 — and results have been mixed. Freshman hurdler Hunter Stimson is dangerously close to breaking the school record set by her mother for 300-meter hurdles in 1984, while the young 4×400-meter relay team (Stimson, Kate Wasson, Madi Hirsh, Noelle Resignolo) regularly finishes in the top-five at 4A Western Slope and even Front Range meets.

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As the youngest members of the team find their footing, the seniors are busy meeting their own goals and following Mason's call for inspiration. Robinson wants to beat the 12-second mark for the 100-meter sprint — his best time so far was 12.01 at the most recent meet in Fort Collins on March 30 — and Keller wants to beat the 100-meter and 200-meter school records for hurdling. He came within a second at the first meet of the season at Rifle High School on March 14, but he admits he hasn't improved since.

"I definitely think I should be able to get it," Keller said of breaking the school records. "I think I've got a chance in both of those events. … I just love sprinting. Going out full speed is just so satisfying when you're done. It hurts when you're doing it, but it's a blast."

For Sockett, a two-year veteran of the team, simply improving on her times at every meet is the sign of a successful season. Mason wants to do the same, but with a very specific goal: finding a rhythm in the 100-meter hurdles. This might be the season of the hurdler at Summit High, but she has been struggling with the discipline for most of her high school track career.

"I like cross-country because it's nice to clear your mind on a run. Track is more about technique and getting competitive," Mason said, and then switched gears to talk about her nemesis. "I just keep coming back to (hurdling) because it's something I need to do for myself. It's about proving it to myself."

Running late

Like all mountain-town sports teams, the track and field crew has its fair share of stories. One of the senior's favorites by far is from the 2016 league meet, when Robinson nearly missed the meet after hitting snooze a few too many times.

"Our coach said be there at some really early time, and I'm not the best at waking up," Robinson said as his fellow seniors barely held back laughter. "I woke up to 45 missed calls from Katie. I call her back and she's like, 'You missed the bus.'"

Keller and Sockett didn't believe that Mason had called him nearly 50 times, but Robinson and Mason both swear by it. But everyone can agree on what happened next: Robinson called Mason, Mason asked the coach to stop the bus, and then Robinson's mom set a land-speed record getting her son to the waiting bus in Rifle — halfway between Summit and leagues in Grand Junction.

"My mom was so angry about that," Robinson said and his teammates burst into laughter. It kept rolling as Robinson launched into the next story about an Aspen track runner named Sunday, who's fast enough that Robinson just wants to be on the same start line sometime this season.

"Going up against him would kind of a privilege," Robinson said. "That way, I can tell my kids when he's at the Olympics, 'I raced against him.'"

2017 Summit High track and field

April 15 — Glenwood Springs Invite, Glenwood Springs High School 9 a.m.

April 25 — Husky Invite, Battle Mountain High School at noon

April 29 — Ram Charger Invite, Jeffco Stadium in Lakewood at 8 a.m.

May 2 — Western Slope League JV meet, Gypsum at 1:30 p.m.

May 5-6 — Western Slope/Southwestern League meet, Stocker Stadium in Grand Junction at 9 a.m.

May 11 — Joe Shields Invite, West Grand High School in Kremmling at noon

May 18-20 — 4A State Meet, TBD