Becoming ‘students of the sport,’ Sailors and Rams represent at state cross country

Soroco junior Alan Mayer runs among a tight pack in the opening mile of the 2A boys cross country state championship race in Colorado Springs on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2022.
Tom Skulski/Steamboat Pilot & Today

In a sea full of Colorado high school athletes, 10 represented the Yampa Valley at the 2022 Colorado High School Activities Association State Cross Country Championships in Colorado Springs on Saturday, Oct. 29. 

Qualifying for state at his 2A regional race, Soroco junior Alan Mayer was the lone Ram representing in Colorado Springs. He had the goal all season to qualify for the state championships and use it as experience ahead of his senior season. 

Mayer ran among a large cluster of runners for the duration of the race. He used their speed to push himself to the finish line in an incredible 18 minutes and 47 seconds.

He said it felt really good to finish and got him even more excited for next year. Looking back, Mayer thought he put together a fantastic season. 

“It was really good,” Mayer said. “I did way better than I thought I was going to do. I was going to try and break 18:30 and I ended up breaking 18, so that was really good. I just had a great season overall and I was happy with how I did.”

In the unified race, Steamboat sent two of its runners to compete. Sophomore Xavier Knott took an early lead on the first turn of the race and never looked back. Knott won the race by over a minute and was crowned a state champion at the podium. 

Racing alongside Knott was his sophomore teammate Luka Russell who took fourth in the race and was supported the whole way by Steamboat’s head coach, Lisa Renee Tumminello. 

Steamboat Springs sophomores Xavier Knott and Luka Russell celebrate at the podium following the unified race at the cross country state championships in Colorado Springs on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022. Knott earned the title of state champion with Russell not far behind in fourth.
Tom Skulski/Steamboat Pilot & Today

The Sailors were also represented by its girl’s team in the 4A race. This was the first time competing in state for all seven of the Steamboat girls, and they rose to the challenge. 

The day before the race, the team got to walk the course and take it all in. The first thing senior Autumn Oslowski noticed was the elevation gain between the first and second mile of the race. 

She said the hills did not faze her, and her team felt prepared for the challenge. 

“We’re Steamboat, we are designed for hills,” Oslowski said. “It’s just that mental toughness and I think it plays a huge role in just continuously telling yourself you got this and you can do it. I always say when I get to a hill, ‘You beat the hill, don’t let the hill beat you.’ Little motivational thoughts really help to prepare yourself.”

The self-motivation worked for Oslowski, who is officially the 24th-fastest 4A girls runner in Colorado. She broke the 20-minute mark with a 19:42.40 time on an extremely difficult course.

Steamboat sophomore Novella Light runs down an early straight of the cross country state championship in Colorado Springs on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022. Her sophomore teammate, Lillian Hammer runs not too far behind early in the race.
Tom Skulski/Steamboat Pilot & Today

For Oslowski and Steamboat’s other senior captain, Margaux Shea, it was a dream to compete at state. It is something the two have worked toward for their entire high school careers and they both agreed it lived up to the hype. 

“There’s no other group of people I would rather be here with,” Shea said, who crossed the finish line in 24:48.60. “To be able to do this, not as an individual, but as a team was so, so special. We had a lot of other people come down to cheer us on and every half mile they are there with our signs and that’s what got me through the race.”

Shea added that the best part of the day was seeing her teammates cheer her on at the finish line and getting to hug each one of them. 

Several members of the Steamboat boys and girls teams made the trip to Colorado Springs to support their teammates. 

Tumminello explained that this does not happen on most teams, and simply shows the quality of people she gets to coach. She attributes a lot of their charisma to Steamboat being such a strong, tight-knit community. 

Tumminello was amazed to see her athletes become “students of the sport” and display excitement for next season just minutes after their final race of the year. 

“That vision, you just know the season is ending for them but their hearts and what they want to accomplish, are not,” Tumminello said. “They’re already forward thinking, they’re already thinking about track or whatever they are doing in the winter. That’s how you know you’re doing your job.”

4A Girls

Team scores: 1. Niwot, 20. 2. Battle Mountain, 122. 3. Durango, 134. 4. Cheyenne Mountain, 169. 5. Palmer, 174. 6. Summit, 236. 7. Mead, 243. 8. Northfield, 270. 9. Golden, 272. 10. George Washington, 273. 11. Mullen, 301. 12. Discovery Canyon, 311. 13. Silver Creek, 332. 14. Lewis-Palmer, 343. 15. Pueblo West, 362. 16. Mountain View, 377. 17. Falcon, 420. 18. Steamboat Springs, 432. 19. Montrose, 436. 20. Windsor, 449. 

Top 5: 1. Ella Hagen, Summit, 17:48.90. 2. Addison Ritzenhein, Niwot, 17:56.50. 3. Mia Prok, Niwot, 18:18.10. 4. Bella Nelson, Niwot, 18:24.10. 5. Madison Shults, Niwot, 18:29.30. 

Steamboat finishers: 24. Autumn Oslowski, 19:42.40. 70. Ayla Oslowski, 21:12.80. 126. Novella Light, 22:23.10. 129. Grace Olexa, 22:32.40. 139. Morgan Yeiser, 23:33.80. 141. Lillian Hammer, 23:36.00. 152. Margaux Shea, 24:48.60. 

2A Boys

Top 5: 1. Jack Nauman, Heritage Christian Academy, 15:55.10. 2. Jace Peters, Lake County, 16:21.30. 3. Ryan O’Laughlin, Heritage Christian Academy, 16:33.60. 4. Lyndon Gotelaere, St. Mary’s, 16:39.00. 5. Dawit James, Strasburg, 16:43.20. 

Soroco finisher: 61. Alan Mayer, 18:47.50.

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