’05 graduation hinders Demons, Bears track | PostIndependent.com

’05 graduation hinders Demons, Bears track

Joelle Milholm and Phil SandovalPost Independent Staff
Post Independent File Photo/Kara K. Pearson Glenwood's Chris Benson clears the high jump bar during the Class 4A Region 1 track meet in Grand Junction last season.

Editor’s note: This is the first of a two part series. A preview on Class 2A and 3A schools will run later this week.The Glenwood Springs track and field team is hoping that a talented freshman class mixed with a few solid veterans will lead to a successful season this spring.Thirty-eight Demons, 25 boys and 13 girls, make up the squad whose first meet – the Mickey Dunn Invitational on March 11 – was canceled due to snow. Despite undesirable weather conditions, the team has still managed to do some running outside.”Even if there is snow, we run on the roads and bike paths. Training is going well. What has suffered has been our technical work – our throws, jumps and relays,” said Glenwood head coach Blake Risner. “We have strong freshmen classes on both sides. We’ve got strong kids who are great athletes, and we just need to get them on the track and put them in their events.”Last season, eight Demons (six boys and two girls) qualified for state, but only two of those athletes are back on the 2006 team. Chris Benson, a senior captain who qualified in four state events last year – the high jump, triple jump, and two sprint relays – is one of those returnees.”We expect big things out of Chris in his senior year in jumps and the relays,” Risner said. “We are also going to have him do some open sprints for the first time.”Other seniors Risner will be looking at to lead the boys squad are Justin Montover, another captain who qualified for state relays last year, and Tyler Setterberg.

On the girls side, Amanda Alberico and Lyndsey Wesson will hope to guide the young Demons whose relays are looking very promising.”We are really excited about two relays – the 4X100 and 4X800 – both of which will be bolstered by a very talented freshmen class,” Risner said. Katie Buchanan, Meg Waibel and Katrina Selsor make up a large chunk of the talented freshman class.”They made it to the Junior Olympics nationals last year in our youth program. So they have experience at a higher level to go along with great talent,” Risner said of the trio. “All three of them will be contributing to the two relays in different ways.”On Saturday, the Demons will head to Fort Collins to compete in the Runners Roost Invitational.”It is the biggest meet in the state for that weekend,” Risner said. “We are one of two or three 4A schools going against all 5A teams so it will be a good opportunity for our younger kids to learn and see what the higher athletes do and see where they are at.”Observation a key to young Bears’ successRIFLE – Watch. Listen. Now, do it. That’s the approach Rifle plans to use with most of its athletes during the early stages of the 2006 track season.

“We have a ton of underclassmen,” head coach Scott Winter said. “We’re not lacking so much in talent by any means. But with the inexperience, it’s going to take them half the season to figure out how it works.” Part of that plan, Winter said, is to send the entire 50-plus-member contingent to the same meets. “We’re taking those younger kids to all those meets. Then they can be right there, watching the experienced kids, so they can figure it out. Maybe that’s not the smartest thing to do from a coaching standpoint. But once again, it gets back to inexperience. I don’t what to put kids in a situation that turns them off to the sport.” While there’s a lack of senior leadership to draw from, the Bears do have a handful of veterans Winter can turn to for help. Eric Simms and Kolby McFarland return as Rifle’s top hurdlers.track: see next page Nick Alderson, the younger brother of 2005 state medalist, John, now at Wyoming, “has come in strong in the jumps and relays,” Winter said. Sophomore Hazen Moss is fully recovered from the knee injury he suffered during football season and has looked good at the team’s early workouts. “Hazen is fully back and is running like a fiend,” Winter noted. “He’s going to switch to the 400 and 800 meters this year and that’s going to be something to watch.”

Another sophomore to watch this season is Scott Rust. A successful running on Rifle’s cross country team should translate to good times for Rust in the 1,600 and 3,200 runs. Two football players – Tyler Thompson and Jose Villagrana – are penciled in for the sprints. The girls roster is small and young. Winter has yet to find the right person to fill event slots across the board. However, there are some returnees he can count on. “Nicole Bendetti is back in the sprints,” he said. “She’s strong again and is going after it.” As is Maddi Steffan in the 1,600 and 3,200. Elisabeth Strouss, Steffan’s teammate in both events, remains questionable. “Elisabeth had that serious (leg) injury last year. She’s still in physical therapy for that,” Winter explained. “But she’s wanting to get back. She’s missed about and a season and a half and she’s champing at the bit.” Jessica Martinez is set as Rifle’s top hurdler. Others Winter expects to make a contribution include Lindsey Bowen and Lacey Krukenberg. “We’re thin, but we have a core to work with,” he said of the Bears girls. “The cupboard’s not bare. You just never know what you’re going to get from year to year. Track’s that kind of fringe sport where it’s real easy to say ‘yeah’ or ‘nay’ to it,” he continued. It’s an individual effort. That’s what separates who wants to do what week to week. The season’s long. You take pre-season and go into the state meet. That’s 14 weeks.”

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