TELLURIDE – When it comes to high school track and field, both Norwood and Telluride High Schools have produced some strong, even championship, individual performers in recent seasons.
Think of Norwood’s Lindsey Stindt, who as a sophomore won last year’s 2A State track and field championships in the 300 meter hurdles and long jump, and took second place in the 100 meter hurdles; or Telluride’s Emy Ludwig, who placed third in the 300 meter hurdles and fifth in the 100 meter hurdles at the State meet, also as a sophomore.
But despite these and other impressive individual finishes, in both cases overall team performance hasn’t been as strong as the sum of its talented members might suggest. The two relatively small teams have simply lacked enough athletes to put together relays and to compete in each of the multiple running, jumping and throwing events that comprise their sport. As a result, they involuntarily forfeited points that could have boosted their overall team performance on the statewide level.
But that dynamic is poised to change this season with the merging of the Norwood Mavericks and the Telluride Miners track and field teams into the new, combined Telluride Norwood Track – or TNT – team, complete with new uniforms that meld Miners crimson and maroon with Mavericks blue and white.
For two teams that have always shared a healthy rivalry, “It has been a little bit of work to get everybody thinking about it differently,” said head coach Keith Hampton, who is excited to pick up a healthy roster athletes and expert coaches from Norwood in the merger.
“The opportunity existed to give the kids a better chance from both directions,” with each team’s strengths complimenting the others weaknesses, he explained.
For example, the Norwood girls will get to run relays for which they previously didn’t have enough athletes, while the Telluride team picks up throwers from Norwood whom the team has been lacking.
“As a team we will be very strong.”
The merger came about when the Colorado High School Activities Association introduced a new 1A division for the state’s smallest schools, into which the Mavericks, formerly a 2A school like the Miners, would have been shifted.
“As you go down in division the depth of competition gets thinner; 1A doesn’t get same sort of visibility that 2A gets,” said Hampton.
With a strong but small team, “Norwood didn’t want to go 1A, it wanted to stay 2A.”
Thus, the new, “dynamite” boys and girls track and field teams.
Girls to watch for this season include both Stindt and Ludwig, now both juniors, joined by Telluride junior Jo Bush, Telluride sophomores Rachel Hampton and Jessie Hild and Norwood sophomore Shelby Brier.
“We have a young team this year, said Hampton. “We’ll be good this year but we’ll be better next year,” he continued.
While Hampton expects the girls team to be very competitive on a state level this season, the boys team, while still strong, could be a little less so because of its heavy reliance on distance runners.
Among them is Norwood junior Ty Williams, who finished fourth in the 1,600 meter and second in the 3,200 meter at last year’s 2A State track and field championships and was the State 2A cross country champion this past fall (for the second year in a row). Telluride seniors Colten Rogers and Nathan Loomis, who took sixth and eighth, in the fall cross country championships, respectively, join Williams as some of the strongest distance runners in the state.
Rogers, “Will be a very strong player in the 800 and 1600, he should definitely be one of the favorites at state,” Hampton predicted, calling Loomis “also very strong.”
“I think he’ll be very, very good in track this year.”
“In track in order to contend at the state level you have to have kids in every event so you can score,” Hampton explained. “You can be good in distance but that’s not enough.”
Hampton also has high hopes for the relay prospects the merger enables, envisioning top state rankings for both the boys’ and girls’ teams.
“We’ll be one of the top ranked teams, for sure, on both the boys and girls sides,” he said of the 4x800 meter relay, predicting “extremely strong” finishes in the 4x400 meter relays as well.