Kelly returns to state track podium

Kraatz sets new school record

Crested Butte junior Erin Kelly and sophomore Skylar Kraatz carried the Crested Butte Titans flag into Jefferson County Stadium competing in the 2010 State Track and Field Championships on May 20-22.
It’s become old hat for Titans track star Kelly. In her three years of high school track and field, Kelly has qualified for the state meet all three years, stepped up to the podium all three years and won the two-mile state title last year.
This season was a bit different though. Kelly has been plagued with a tight hamstring that evolved into excruciating hip pain. Weeks of rehabilitation got her back on course but not until midway through the track season.
Kelly made the most of the few meets she competed in this season, qualifying for the state championships in both the mile and two-mile events.
Still, with just half of a season of serious training under her belt leading up to the state meet, Kelly was a bit off, for her. While she entered the state meet pain-free, the lack of training time leading up to the races weighed on her mind.
“It was kind of a mental thing,” says Kelly. “I felt pretty good. I think if I had a couple more weeks I would have felt a little more confident.”
Nevertheless, Kelly still hit the podium in her two events, opening the meet with a third-place finish in the two-mile.
After two laps in the race, Kelly and another girl broke away from the pack, setting a pace more suitable to their styles. The two battled back and forth the remaining six laps, with one more joining the mix just edging Kelly out of second place. Kelly posted a time of 11:39.04, only eight seconds off her winning time last year with only half a season of training.
“The fact that she showed up with four races under-belt and came in third is impressive,” says Puckett. “It was one of the best races I’ve seen her run.”
“I’m still pretty happy,” says Kelly. “I did as best as I could on that day. It makes me more motivated for next season.”
 The mile followed the next day leaving little recovery time for the Titan runner.
“It was her first back-to-back of the season,” says Puckett. “There’s only so much you can do with five weeks of training.”
“My hip didn’t hurt but I was pretty tired,” says Kelly. “I went all out in the two mile so after the first couple laps in the mile I felt pretty baked.”
Kelly finished in eighth place in the mile with a time of 5:36.16.
Kraatz checked off two goals this track season, goals that she set for herself at the start of her freshman year.
“For the past two years my goal has been to make it to state and break Emma’s [Coburn] record,” says Kraatz.
She hit those two weeks ago when she qualified for the state championships with a third place at regionals and broke Coburn’s record in the process.
Kraatz admits her nerves got to her leading up to the state meet but disappeared when she walked into the stadium.
“Driving up to Denver I was pretty nervous but once I got there I was focused and knew what I had to do,” says Kraatz.
Kraatz took fifth in her qualifying heat, breaking her own school record in the event with a time of 62.25. Unfortunately, she missed the final heat by one spot, leaving her in tenth place overall.
“I’m satisfied with it,” says Kraatz. “I don’t have any regrets.”
“For her first rodeo, it was pretty good,” adds Puckett. “She exceeded our expectations.”
Kraatz will spend next year in Germany but plans to return to the state championships her final year of high school track.
“I’m going to come back my senior year and I’ll be ready,” says Kraatz.

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