Steamboat sends 3 distance runners south for regional meet |

Steamboat sends 3 distance runners south for regional meet

Luke Graham

— Steamboat Springs High School track and field coach Greg Long sees so much upside that he’s not going to miss an upcoming meet – even if it’s in Page, Ariz.

Long, along with distance runners John Cutter, Jeff Sperry and Brittany Long, will compete in Saturday’s meet that attracts top runners from Arizona and southern Utah.

The benefits, Greg Long said, are plentiful.

In addition to getting out of town for spring break, Greg Long said, the three Steamboat harriers will be running at a lower elevation – Page is 4,118 feet above sea level – and in a warmer climate.

“They’re going to get the elevation, weather and training benefits,” Greg Long said. “We backed off training this week. Their legs were dead. We’ve always viewed that they want to run their best times at Tiger Meet and (4A) Showcase. The goal is to be able to peak at the right time.”

Steamboat was originally scheduled to compete in Friday’s Clint Wells track meet in Craig. Steamboat decided to not attend the meet because of its spring break.

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Long has worked on getting a team to an out-of-state meet before. Two years ago, he took Brittany Long and former Steamboat runner Matt Hill to a meet at sea level in California. He said running at sea level and then coming back didn’t have the benefits he was hoping to see. He said he expects bigger gains from the Page event.

It should also help that Cutter, Sperry and Brittany’s workload should be considerably less than normal meets.

Cutter will race just the 2-mile, Brittany will do the mile and possibly the 2-mile and Sperry will run the 400- and 800-meter races.

Greg Long said Cutter will try to break the 10-minute mark in the 2-mile, and Brittany will try to break the 5:30 mark in the mile, while it will be Sperry’s first look at solid competition in the 800.

“Running the mile, I’m looking to break the school record,” Brittany said. “I don’t think it’ll happen, but that would be one of the best things.”

Steamboat resumes with a full team May 1 and 2 at the Tiger Invitational in Grand Junction. The team then competes at the 4A Showcase May 8 and 9 in Grand Junction. The state track meet is May 14, 15 and 16 in Denver. To qualify for the state meet, competitors need to have a qualifying time in the top 18 in their respective events in the state.

Times in Page will not count toward state qualifying times. Still, Greg said he thinks all three runners have a legitimate shot at making the state meet.

“Our training has been geared for that,” Greg said. “It should be very, very possible.”

– To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229 or e-mail