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Cross country programs prepare for slimmer start lines during 2020 season

Eden Mayer (right) runs with former Soroco teammate Kourtney Bruner at a home meet in 2019. Soroco High School decided not to host a home event this year.
Shelby Reardon

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — One of the beautiful things about the sport of cross country running is anyone can do it. Sure, the same could be said about soccer, but not everyone competes an equal amount.

At a cross country meet, any number of people can run, and they all run the same distance. At the end, only the best runners’ positions will count toward the team score. So, any runner of any talent level can compete without any fear of potentially bringing down the team. 

Usually. 

This year, there will be a limited number of athletes at each start line. There will be no alternate or additional runners. At the 4A level, where Steamboat Springs High School competes, teams can have seven runners, with the top five scoring. For Soroco High School at the 2A level, six can run, and four will be scored.

“Running sports are pretty easy because you can’t really pick favorites,” said Soroco head cross country coach Matt Mayer. “The fastest are on the varsity team. That’s the bottom line.” 

Mayer previously coached the middle school team, taking over the high school squad late last fall. He founded the middle school cross country program at Soroco four years ago. 

In past years, all runners would be able to compete, but with a girls team of nine Rams, a few will be left on the sidelines during races. The boys team consisted of just Alex Colby last year, but now, the senior has three other teammates. To determine who travels to Meeker this weekend, the Rams are competing in a time trial Wednesday.

Sailors head coach Lisa Renee Tumminello asked her athletes to name their top goals, whether it be competition, training, destination runs or something else. There soon became a large group of people who were mostly interested in training, while a small group was serious about competition. That helped narrow down the potential varsity squad. 

“There’s a challenge because we want everyone to have that opportunity to cross the finish line,” she said.

Steamboat XC schedule

Sept. 5 – West Grand
Sept. 19 – Eagle Valley
Sept. 25 – Craig junior varsity
Sept. 26 – Craig varsity
Oct. 2 – Whistle Pig Invite
Oct. 8 – Regionals at Eagle Valley
Oct. 17 – State at Colorado Springs

Some teams are trying to get multiple events in every week to try to get all their runners to a race, but Tumminello said that was too much. Instead, she’s hoping to spend less time traveling and more time taking in the sights of Routt County by running in North Routt or other scenic areas.

Tumminello also is trying to put together a rare home event for the Steamboat runners. She’s had no luck with the local golf courses, so she’s hoping to work with the city to create a course on Howelsen Hill and host an event there in late September or early October.

Soroco XC schedule

Aug. 22 – Meeker
Aug. 28 – Meeker
Sept. 5 – West Grand
Sept. 12 – Glenwood
Sept. 18 – Rangely varsity
Sept. 19 – Rangely junior varsity
Sept. 25 – Craig junior varsity
Sept. 26 – Craig varsity
Oct. 10 – Regionals at Delta
Oct. 17 – State at Colorado Springs

The season is slightly shorter, with state taking place at the Norris Penrose Event Center in Colorado Springs on Oct. 17.

The Rams hosted a home event last year but decided to not pursue that challenge again this year. 

“It ended up being a little bit too difficult to try to manage,” Mayer said. “We figured people would ignore the masks and the gatherings, so the (athletic director) and I figured we’d be running around policing masks more than coaching our kids.”

To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.


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