Manitou Springs track team wins Small School Championships

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Photo - ManItou's Godwill Ofori-Atuahene, center, in the 100m - The El Paso County Small School Track and Field Championships took place Monday, May 1, 2017 at the Grace Center for Athletics and Community Service. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette
ManItou's Godwill Ofori-Atuahene, center, in the 100m - The El Paso County Small School Track and Field Championships took place Monday, May 1, 2017 at the Grace Center for Athletics and Community Service. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette

Fitting all the pieces together before the state meet is an ongoing process for Manitou Springs coach Phil Rich.

From senior Jared Keul, the team's unquestioned leader, to sophomore Jayden Omi, who has transformed into a state contender in sprints, Rich couldn't say enough about the "hard work" that both his young and veteran athletes have put into the season.

The trying part now, however, is fitting them where they need to go with state a little more than two weeks away.

"We don't even know who's all running in our relays yet," Rich cracked. "We'll figure it out later this week."

EL PASO COUNTY TRACK AND FIELD
Manitou's Bryce Coop - The El Paso County Small School Track and Field Championships took place Monday, May 1, 2017 at the Grace Center for Athletics and Community Service. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette 

The Mustangs were well-rounded on Monday, winning the El Paso County Small School Championships with a score of 112 points at the Grace Center.

Hedged in a virtual tie with Peyton in the closing moments of the 17-school meet, Hunter Thomas held on to win the discus with a toss of 111-feet and 10 inches, and Keul anchored the 1,600 relay to a win in 3 minutes and 34.84 seconds - enough for the Mustangs to hold off the Panthers, who finished 1 ½ points behind at 110 ½.

The Mustangs won six events led by Omi's victories in the 100 and 200 and Keul's in the 400. Their unsettled lineup also pieced together a win in the 400 relay.

"We have the athletes," Omi said. "We're just matching to get the right athletes for our relays."

EL PASO COUNTY TRACK AND FIELD
ManItou's Godwill Ofori-Atuahene, center, in the 100m - The El Paso County Small School Track and Field Championships took place Monday, May 1, 2017 at the Grace Center for Athletics and Community Service. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette 

Heading into the state meet the Mustangs will likely have the best chance to medal when Keul is in the mix.

At state a year ago, Keul won the 800 and helped lead the 1,600 relay to a meet record. He also took second in the 400 and was part of the 800 relay that took third.

His successful showing led to an offer from Kansas State, who he signed with two weeks ago.

"Their head coach watches the surrounding state meets and he watched me run (at state), and I think it opened his eyes," Keul said. "So he got in touch with me last summer and we've been talking on the phone for several months."

First though, Keul said his focus is on the last weeks of his high school career: "I need to run my best for my teammates. There's definitely a big responsibility being a senior and being (the relay) anchor."

The El Paso County Small Schools Championships were postponed from Saturday due to inclement weather.

Buena Vista won the girls' meet with 136 points.