Lindsay Russell is quietly making a name for herself among the state's top sprinters.
So quietly, in fact, that assistant coach Casey Carney jokes that Russell has to run anchor in sprint relays because her teammates can't hear her yell when she approaches for the handoff. And handoffs are serious business in sprint relays.
Photo by Tamie Meck
Paonia sprinter Lindsay Russell runs the 400-meter dash at the 2011 Coal Ridge Invitational. Russell is ranked in the top 10 in state 2A competition in all three sprints and runs on some top-ranked sprint relays.
Russell, a junior who ran a leg as a freshman on the regional champion and state placing 1600-and 3200-meter relay teams, qualified for state in relays and individual events her sophomore year. She finished 11th in the 200 and made the finals in the 400, placing sixth.
This year, Russell is ranked in the top 10 in all three sprints. She has the endurance to run a strong 400, and anchored the 2011 sprint relay (the 400-meter leg), which placed third and set a new school record.
Russell, who recently missed two weeks of competition due to a strained Achilles, returned in time to run at Friday's Coal Ridge Invitational, placing third in the 100 and 200.
"I really like my open 2 and 4," said Russell at a recent practice. "It's like my dream now to run in college, so it would be really great to try and get those times up."
Since athletes can only compete in four events at any meet, she's worried she'll have to forego the 200 and anchor the 400, 800 and 800 sprint medley relays. It may be her saving grace that this year's team has a lot of speed.
"Last year we had no speed," said Carney, a former sprinter for Paonia. "And this year we have more than we can handle, almost. We have to have runoffs every week. And they just keep getting faster."
Midway through the season, Paonia is ranked in the top five in Max Preps standings in all five relays. And while they haven't broken any school records this season, head coach Brian Mitchem said they're closing in on the 800 relay record of 1 minute, 48.09 seconds, set in 2006. That time gave Paonia a second-place finish at state. On Friday, the team, of Russell, Chelsy Reed, Taylor Polson and Morgan Hartigan finished in 1:49.23 to place third behind Cedaredge and Delta.
Paonia's only first place finish at Coal Ridge was the 1600 relay team of Russell, Reed, Polson and Taylor Plymale. They are just 3 seconds shy, and within reach, of the 2007 school record, said Mitchem.
The team of Reed, Carson Pipher, Braiden Clement and Polson also finished second in the 3200 relay behind 4A Eagle Valley.
Hurdler Taylor Polson, who is ranked in the top 10 in the 300-meter hurdles, shaved a fourth of a second off of her personal record to finish second in 49.51; freshman Morgan Hartigan placed fourth.
The boys team hasn't broken any school record this season, according to Mitchem. But Trevor Walters' 800 time is getting close to Justin Vallelonga's 2005 record of 2:03.04. Walters claimed the only win for the Eagles at Coal Ridge, topping the field of 800 runners by almost two seconds to win in 2:06.92. His season-best time of 2:05.4 is in the top five in 2A and "will easily qualify him for state," said Mitchem.
Walters also finished fourth overall at Coal Ridge in the 1600.
Will Austin shaved a little more off of his times to finish sixth in the 110 high hurdles, and placed eighth in the 300 hurdles.
The 3200 relay team of Walters, Kurt Katzdorn, Cody Bartlett and Alex Smith placed fourth overall and the 1600 relay team of Walters, Ben Justman, Anthony Roeber and Austin placed seventh.
Jacob Helleckson set a new personal record of 11:32 in the 3200.
Due to spring break and other factors, several members of both teams didn't compete at Coal Ridge. The girls placed third overall with 75.5 points, and the boys earned 24 points to place ninth.
The Eagles travel to Gunnison this Saturday, and the freshmen and sophomores will attend the annual Gunnison freshman/sophomore meet on April 24.
The Cedaredge girls won the Coal Ridge Invitational. Find more about the meet online at www.deltacountyindependent.com.