Runners' strength in numbers

The sun was out Friday, allowing the biggest track and field squad Hayden High School has seen in at least a decade get outdoors for warm, springlike training.

At this time last year, the athletes were bundled up in sweats while an early spring storm blasted Colorado.

"The warm weather has been wonderful," coach Kevin Kleckler said.

On Friday, shot putters and discus throwers jogged around Poplar Street, while long-distance runners went for a two-mile run. Other athletes were inside the gym doing plyometrics and conditioning drills.

The Tigers have a plethora of strong runners returning from last year's team, as well as some new ones.

"We've got over 40 students coming out for the track team, and there's only 142 in the high school, so we're pretty proud of that," Kleckler said. "It's the most we've had in the 11 years I've been with the team."

Also, about 70 athletes will join the team from the middle school, Kleckler said.

Returning state qualifiers are Evan Hilling from the 200-meter dash, Andrea Deepe from the 800-meter medley, Lauren Branstetter in the 400-meter dash and 400-meter relay, and Justine Bedell in the 400-meter relay and 800-meter medley.

The girls did particularly well in the medley at the state meet in Pueblo last year.

On the boys' side, Hilling is nursing an ankle injury after rolling it in practice last week. He said he'll be back to normal soon.

"We have a lot of talented sprinters, but our strength is in our numbers," Kleckler said.

-- To reach Nick Foster call 871-4204

or e-mail nfoster@steamboatpilot.com

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