For some, winning is everything. Competition is in their blood and nothing gets it boiling like a challenge. This challenge is essential to competition, and it is what winners crave.
For the Pagosa Springs track team, a good challenge is exactly what several members of the team don’t have. Although both boys and girls came in second at last week’s meet in Bayfield, Coach Scott White thinks this is remarkable, considering the team’s small size.
“This is such a small team, but we come together where our strengths are and every week get second place,” White said, adding that, talentwise, he thinks Pagosa is the best team, but they just don’t have the numbers to compete in all the events.
And this was even during a meet in which White said had lots of “prom injuries.”
Junior Taylor Strohecker is ranked first in the state in Class 3A high jump. At the Pirates’ last meet in Bayfield, Strohecker hit what had, for the first part of the season been, according to White, an elusive 5-3 jump.
“Top, top, top,” is how White described junior Toni Stoll’s triple jump. She hit a 36-9, two to three feet farther than anyone else. Junior Gabby Pajak placed second with a jump of 35-2.
Pajak also jumped well, consistently jumping in the number one or two spot for long jump. Pajak took first with a 16-11.5, with Stoll close at 16-1.
“These girls are top in state and really doing a great job,” White said.
Senior Katie Armbrecht continued the Pirates’ strong showing in field events with a first-place throw in shot put at 34-1 and a third place throw in discus with 103-2.
According to White, Armbrecht has been trying all season to crack 34 feet, so it seems that Armbrecht is now in her groove.
In running events, the girls’ medley has come together. “It was a really good race,” White said. For a while, the girls seemed to have plateaued in the event with a best time of 1 minute and 59 seconds. White was hoping that last weekend the girls would take just one second off. Instead, they took two seconds off for a winning time of 1.57.
All around, it seems the Pirates are peaking at the right time.
Stoll, in addition to her fantastic leaps, has become a major competitor in one of track’s toughest races — the 300 hurdles.
“Toni all of a sudden came out of her shell in the three-hundred,” White said. For the first part of the season, she had a time around 52. She brought her time down to 49.95 and took first at the Southwest Invitational, but it was last week when Stoll really stood out. She took first place with a 48.92. White said that she has found her rhythm, which for this race is essential; without it, a runner can begin to slow after the first 100 meters and be almost dead after reaching 200 meters.
It was Pajak in this duo of dominating juniors who took first in the 100 meter hurdles with a 16.33, not her best finish, but considering the circumstances, a very good one. White explained that, in this race, Pajak was so far ahead of the rest of the pack that no one stopped the clock to get her official time; she received only a hand time, which was around 14 seconds.
“She still won, but they weren’t sure of her official time,” White explained, saying officials then gave Pajak a choice: she could take first with no official time or run the race again, all by herself, for an official time. Without complaint or hesitation, Pajak took the track and raced against her biggest competitor in the region — her own time.
Nisa Touchon gave the Pirates another first place, in the 3,200 with a time of 16.21.67.
For the boys, the strong seemed to get stronger.
Sophomore Colton Polezynski had an amazing 800 meter race, White said.
“People see him running and say, ‘Look at that little guy run. He’s still going, when’s he going to die?,’” White said. But Polezynski doesn’t slow down until the race has been won. Pirates took first and second in the 800 with two underclassmen runners. Polezynski took first with a 2.04.13, and freshman Tate Drane was second with a 2.09.67. With this race as well, Polezynski has cracked the top 18 in the state and has a very good shot at going to state this year.
Senior Carlos Brinkmann continued to dominate the mile run last weekend, taking first with a 4.50.13. According to White, Brinkmann is so far ahead of the rest of the pack in the area, that the competition is barely there. So, this weekend, during the Pirates’ home meet, Brinkmann will be running in the Grand Junction meet, a lone Pirate against the big schools.
“He’s winning by 15 seconds,” White said. Brinkmann is hoping that, by running against athletes from bigger schools, the competition will help him slice off at least eight seconds from his time. Brinkmann will also be running the 3,200 in Grand Junction.
Sophomore Tyler Greenly took second place in the 3,200 with a time of 11.48.68, and sophomore Zach Ellis took third with a 12.27.74. Junior Omar Zumudio took fourth with a 12.57.93.
The boys’ relays are also coming together well. The boys took first in the 4x200 with a 1.35.12 and first in the 4x800 with a 9.32.21.
In the 300 hurdles, the Pirates took third, fourth and fifth place, all freshman. David McRee took third with a 50.09; Connor Burkesmith took fourth with a 51.02; and Skylar Goldberg took fifth with a 52.95.
“I’m excited about these three guys over the next three years,” White said.
In the 200 meter dash, junior Garek Erskine took second with a 24.82.
In field, junior Daniel Sloan placed second in high jump with a 5-8. In triple jump, junior Dan Hampton took third with a 38-4.5, with fellow Pirate Erskine placing fourth with a 37-10.5.
The next meet will be this Saturday, a home meet at Golden Peaks Stadium. Action begins at 9 a.m.