With little access to outdoor training facilities and athletes still recovering from winter sports, the Paonia track season is, well, off to a slow start. The Eagles boys earned 44 points to place eighth at Saturday's Delta Invitational, and the girls earned 11.7 points to place 14th.
More than 700 athletes from 20 schools competed at the meet.
But junior Lindsay Russell, a two-time state qualifier, is off to a speedy start. Russell placed third in the coveted 200m sprint and was one of only five racers to break the 28-second mark, crossing the finish line in 27.32. Freshman Brooklynd Erickson also earned PHS a point in the 200m with an eighth place finish.
And mid-distance runner Chelsy Reed, who helped lead the Lady Eagles to a fourth place finish at state basketball just 10 days earlier, finished the 800m run in second place.
Ce'rra Carsten, who is also coming off of a successful basketball season, set a personal record and topped all other competitors by two inches, clearing five feet to win the high jump.
Mandy Bushta (yes, also on the basketball team) fell shy of the 16-foot mark in the long jump, clearing 15-08 to place third. Erickson also made the finals after clearing 15-05.25 to place ninth. Taylor Polson (basketball player) also finished third in the triple jump.
The team of Russell, Reed, Taylor Polson and Gabrielle Moet placed fourth, and first among 2A teams, in the 1600m relay.
In boys competition, Austin Williams placed sixth in the 110m hurdles and ninth in the 300m hurdles. Distance runners Trevor Walters and Jason Sturgis placed ninth in the 1600m and 3200m runs, respectively.
After very little practice, first-year sophomore Ben Linnell finished in a 5-way tie for ninth place in the high jump
Competition was tough in the two throwing events, but Paonia faired well in its opening meet. Tony Darling placed fifth in a field of more than 80 shot-putters with a throw of 42-00.50. Myles Cumpston tied for seventh out of more than 80 discus throwers with a throw of 112-11. Both finished first among 2A competitors.
Paonia competes this Saturday at the Hotchkiss Invitational.