Times Staff Writer
GHS Track and Field — From a glance at the Gunnison High School (GHS) track and field team, one may not notice a group of athletes off to the side, laughing and smiling together. In fact, this group doesn’t get nearly as much attention as the jumpers and runners who take to the track.
Similar to offensive lineman in football who rarely get attention for the work they put in, the GHS throwers — specialists in shot put and discus — often times will be half a mile away from the rest of the Cowboy track and field team during a regular practice.
All of that doesn’t matter, however, to this group, which has come together as a cohesive unit despite being from completely different backgrounds.
“We are a family,” said Rianne Prosser. “We trust, laugh, cheer and support each other.”
The GHS throwers are comprised of eight athletes — Vince Youmans, Leo Aparicio, Juan Sabas, Troy Flores, Prosser, Annabelle Morrison, Kestrel Gordon and Karavella Zeiter — six of whom are in their first year of throwing on the GHS track and field team.
The lone returner from last season — and in his final campaign as a Cowboy — is senior Youmans, who has taken it upon himself to become the leader of the group this season and help guide the younger, inexperienced throwers to success.
“I learned from Josh Stephens that I would have to step it up this season as a leader being that I’m the only returner,” said Youmans in reference to a former team member who graduated from GHS last year. “Stephens was always the one that said, ‘You can when you said you can’t.’”
However, Youmans’ season was cut short after he tore his meniscus and medial collateral ligament during a glide in shot put. As a result, he has diverted his focus to helping the team as a student coach.
Youmans even took it upon himself to purchase team T-shirts for his fellow throwers. The idea to get T-shirts was suggested by head throwing coach Thomas Kattnig.
“We have always made throwers T-shirts ever since I coached,” said Kattnig. “It helps build an identity.”
An identity, nonetheless, that wasn’t there to start the season but which has developed in recent weeks.
Kattnig started coaching the throwers at GHS in 1997 and remained for 10 years before deciding to step away to focus more on his family. Kattnig returned this season to help coach the throwers.
“This is one group I will miss when I'm gone,” said Youmans. “I would do anything for this group, and I very rarely say that. To me, this group is special. I hope they stick together and continue to have great success.”
(Brandon Warr can be reached at 970.641.1414 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)