Going for a run

Love for running is in Van Calcars' blood

Palisade freshman Greta Van Calcar, center, has already set the school record in the 3,200-meter run and now aims her sights on a state title. Van Calcar is seeded second in Class 4A in the 3,200 and third in the 1,600 for this weekend’s state meet in Lakewood.

Palisade freshman Greta Van Calcar, left, has good running genes. Her father, Karl,  center, won the steeplechase national title at Oregon State in 1988 and Greta’s older brother, Anders,  right, is also a member of the Bulldogs’ track team.

Greta Van Calcar is the subject of a running joke with the Palisade High School track and field team.

“She’s getting me free tickets to the Olympics,” Daniel Ness said as he gathered his things off the toasty turf at Stocker Stadium at Saturday’s league meet.

What Van Calcar, a freshman, has accomplished so far in 2013 merits such a statement.

Bound for this weekend’s state meet in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters, she really can’t ask for much more out of her debut track and field campaign.

Qualifying for state is a feat in itself, but Van Calcar recently carved out a place in Palisade history by breaking Natalie Hughes’ 3,200 school record with a time of 11 minutes, 1.9 seconds at the Liberty Bell Invitational in late April. She pulled off a dazzling encore at the league meet, shaving even more time off that record with a 10:50.33 clocking.

“Greta’s a freak, in a good way,” said her older brother, Anders, a regular high finisher in distance events himself.

Running is simply the Van Calcars’ thing.

Their dad, Karl, won the NCAA steeplechase with Oregon State University back in 1988 and went on to compete in the U.S. Olympic trials. He’s now Palisade’s distance coach. Their mom, Heidi, was a personal trainer who would often instruct her kids to run out their anger.

“My whole family is just really active,” Greta relayed. “My mom started making us go for runs when we were angry. I think it just kicked in for me and my brother that we know running makes us feel good.”

Both are on the cross country team as well. The Van Calcar siblings love to run.

“I did cross country my freshman year,” said Anders, a junior who wears his dad’s old Nike steeplechase spikes on the track. “I was like, ‘Dude, this is way more fun. I like to run a lot more.’ “

They also love the outdoor recreation opportunities the Grand Valley provides. It’s one of the reasons Karl, an electrical engineer, and Heidi chose to move to Palisade from a colder outdoors mecca — Hailey, Idaho.

Predictably, Palisade track and field coach Tim Reetz is thrilled to have the Van Calcars in Colorado.

“To have a guy who competed at the highest level talk with the kids is great,” he said. “His attitude and experience is great for our guys and girls.”

And that daughter of Karl’s, she could have quite the weekend in store. Entering the state meet, Greta is seeded second in Class 4A behind Niwot’s Elise Cranny by about six seconds in the 3,200. Palisade’s freshman sensation is ranked third in the 1,600.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if she goes out and runs with (Cranny) until her body gives out,” Reetz said. “She’s just a special athlete with a God-given ability, and she’s the hardest worker.”

A hard worker who makes her father proud with every step of those blistering performances on the oval.

“It’s been incredible,” Karl said with a big grin. “You can only imagine.”


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