Looking ahead: Middle school program fuels growth for Soroco cross country
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS— If there’s track and field in the spring, then it’s only fitting to have cross country in the fall.
But that wasn’t the case for Soroco High School or Soroco Middle School in 2013.
Soroco High School head cross country coach Callie Bradley started as the middle school track and field coach in 2013, but when she moved up to high school coaching, she made a push for a cross country team.
Aug. 25: Basalt
Sept. 1: Lake County
Sept. 8: Saint Vrain, 8:15 a.m.
Sept. 15: Middle Park
Sept. 22: West Grand, 10 a.m.
Sept. 25: Home at Rossi Meadow, 4:30 p.m.
Sept. 29: Moffat County
Oct. 6: Palisade
Oct. 11: Rifle
Oct. 19: Regionals in Delta
Oct. 27: State in Colorado Springs
“I wrote a grant to the Sports Matter program from Dick’s Sporting Goods; they sponsored us the first year getting the team started,” Bradley said. “I had to get it passed through the school board, they were open to it and they think it’s paid off.”
Bradley’s team started with two members in 2014, but now has 13 members on its 2018 squad, which is a lot for a 2A school like Soroco.
But with a high school program on the rise, younger runners needed a place to get their feet off the ground.
Oak Creek runner Matt Mayer, a bus driver and custodian at Soroco schools, implemented a middle school program in 2016.
“First year we competed as a club program and we had three runners come out,” Mayer said. “But we got about four meets and the nice thing about cross country is usually high school and middle school can travel together. That doesn’t add bus expenses and you can use track uniforms. They just needed someone to do it.”
Since cross country wasn’t an official school-sanctioned sport in 2016, Mayer was a volunteer coach. But in 2017, Mayer led the charge to get cross country sanctioned as a Soroco Middle School sport. That also meant he would hold a paid position as head coach.
“We immediately went from three runners the first year to 12,” Mayer said. “It was just word of mouth. Kids said how much fun it was, bus rides and all that stuff. We had a pretty big eighth-grade class last year, six of them moved up. And we ended up with 10 again this year, kind of holding steady.”
Kayedence Bruner, Betsy Veilleux, Emmi Ramirez and Erika Sjoblom are the first members of the middle school team to move up to the high school team.
“Without him, we wouldn’t have had a middle school program,” Bradley said. “I can’t say enough nice stuff about him, he does all kinds of interesting stuff with the kids to make sure they get to run in different places. We try to do some with the high school too, glad he’s on board with that.”
Mayer said the goal of the middle school program is to spark interest in running, which may not be the most exciting sport. As an approved bus driver for Soroco, Mayer takes the kids to Stagecoach, Aspen Flats Trail and Spring Creek Trail for different running experiences.
When the team went to the Steamboat Middle School meet, he’d take them for pizza and a swim at Old Town Hot Springs.
“I am trying to keep it really fun and different, so we’re not running the same old 3-mile trails around Oak Creek” Mayer said. “Let them get more serious in high school.”
Soroco High School will host its second-ever cross country meet Tuesday and with Steamboat Springs High School also in attendance.
Prep weekend match-ups
- Steamboat Springs High School cross country travels to Oak Creek on Tuesday, Sept. 25. The meet will feature the ultimate matchup between some of the state’s top contenders on the girls’ side: Steamboat’s Maggi Congdon and Soroco’s Chloe Veilleux.
- Steamboat Springs football (1-3) will host its first game on Gardner Field against Hotchkiss (2-1) at 7 p.m., Friday, Sept. 21. Senior Austin Ban and sophomore Finn Russell have been leading the ground game for the Sailors. In the 27-20 loss to Middle Park, Ban ran for 137 yards on 14 carries while Russell ran for 124 yards on 11 carries. Russell added a sack on defense and went 2-for-2 on extra point attempts.
- Hayden High School football (2-1) travels to Plateau Valley (0-4) on Friday, Sept. 21. Senior Daylen Frentress led the Tigers to victory over Gilpin County last Friday, Sept. 14, rushing for 158 yards on 13 carries. Junior quarterback Reese Kern went 3 for 4 for 45 yards passing, including a touchdown pass. Junior Hunter Planansky and senior Mason Brewer each recorded six total tackles.
- Soroco High School football (3-0) returns after a week off to play at Gilpin County High School (0-4) in Black Hawk on Saturday. Senior Jace Logan leads the team in rushing with 699 yards on 28 carries and 14 touchdowns this season. His brother, sophomore Kody Logan, has rushed for 215 yards on 11 carries for three touchdowns. Jace and Kody also lead the team in total tackles with 25 and 24 total tackles respectively.
- Steamboat Springs volleyball (5-6) takes on Palisade (7-2) on Fiday, who currently stands at No. 1 in the Class 4A Western Slope Conference. The Sailors lost a five-set battle with Eagle Valley at home last week before defeating Glenwood Springs on the road. In the 3-1 victory over Glenwood Springs, senior Anna Allsberry knocked 19 kills on a 48.7-percent efficiency. On defense, Allsberry and senior Sarah Heckel tied for six total blocks while junior Katelyn Kline commanded the back row with 23 digs. Senior setter Abi Berlet added 29 assists.
- Hayden volleyball (5-5) hosts Vail Christian (2-5) at 4 p.m., Friday, Sept. 21. Junior Joey Deckler leads the team with a 42.3-percent kill efficiency and 27 total blocks. Alex Camilletti leads the team’s back line with 106 digs.
- Soroco volleyball (5-5) travels to the Simla tournament this weekend. The Rams went 1-1 in last week’s matchups, defeating the Caprock Academy and falling to North Park. Makinley Parker remains one of the most consistent hitters on the team with a 41.6-percent efficiency for 32 kills so far this season. Senior Katie Olinger leads the defense with 62 digs.
- Steamboat soccer (5-1) recorded its first loss this week against Battle Mountain, 7-2 with two goals from senior Murphy Bohlmann. The Sailors have a busy week on the road. After traveling to Summit on Wednesday, Sept. 19, the Sailors will play at 1 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 22 at Wheat Ridge.
- Steamboat boys golf qualified four competitors for the state tournament on Oct. 1 to 2 in Colorado Springs. Senior Jack Rotermund, senior Colton Sankey, junior Tommy Henninger and sophomore Ollie Rotermund qualified with their individual scores, which means Steamboat will be able to compete as a team at state.
- Steamboat boys tennis is back at home this weekend, hosting Basalt at 11 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 22. The Sailors travel to Aspen on Tuesday, Sept. 25 before hosting its final match before Regionals against Kent denver at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 29.
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STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Maryliz Gail sighed in relief for the first time in nearly a year Friday morning.