Pushing to the point of collapse, Steamboat girls find their trophy at state cross country | SteamboatToday.com

Pushing to the point of collapse, Steamboat girls find their trophy at state cross country

COLORADO SPRINGS — Little said more about how the Steamboat Springs High School girls cross country team finished at Saturday's Class 3A state championship in Colorado Springs than what the team's runners did as they finished.

Sailor after Sailor charged into the stadium at the Norris-Penrose Event Center and rumbled toward the finish line at the far side, grimacing and groaning as they closed in on the end of their race and their season.

The detailed math of team scoring at a cross country meet was far beyond what they could calculate as they ran so they just ran.

Maggi Congdon made one final pass in the last 10 yards. Winter Boese tried, she said, but had nothing left and simply slogged on.

Then, once they crossed that finish line, they collapsed, one after another.

Dasha Kutnetsova fell across the line more than she ran across it. Volunteers working the meet picked her up, one grabbing her by the arms and the other by the feet, and hauled her to a nearby medical tent.

Isabelle Boniface collapsed, as well. A volunteer knelt with her, then gripped her by the waist and lifted from the ground. Sadie Cotton was in moments later, as well, and she too hit the dirt. Soon her cheeks shone with tears.

They ran 5 kilometers against the best in the state and when they were finished, they didn't have even one step left. When that math was finally finished, their drain-the-tank commitment accomplished what no Steamboat cross country team has in 25 years.

The Sailors finished second, their best finish since 1992.

"We were fighting so hard," Boniface said. "We knew this was what our season led to, that this was the moment we'd been waiting for. You had to go as hard as you possibly could. That was everything any of us could have given."

Steamboat finished with 101 points. Peak to Peak, with the day’s top three individual finishers in state champ Quinn McConnell, Anna Shults, second, and Tiana Bradfield, third, won the team title with 82 points. The Classical Academy was third with 120.

The Sailors won state championships in 1990 and 1991, then was second in 1992. It was last on the podium in 1993 when it placed third.

Saturday, Steamboat got back on that podium with its best performance of the season.

Congdon blew by four racers in the last 400 meters of the race. She finished fourth in 18 minutes, 54.1 seconds.

"I knew if I kicked it a little early, I could pass all of them," Congdon said. "It was crazy. I couldn't feel my legs at all."

Boese earned a top-10 finish for the second consecutive year, placing ninth in 19:11.5.

Kutnetsova, who moved to Steamboat from Russia to train for Nordic skiing, placed 14th in 19:39.5. Her finish line crash is a habit and she was back on her feet 10 minutes later.

"I think it's the Nordic skiing," Boese said. "She knows how to give it all she has."

Boniface shaved 18 seconds off her season-best time, resetting it at 20:30.0, and, even more critically, finished a whopping 21 spots better than she was forecast to in pre-meet rankings.

Cotton, too, had a season-best time and she was four spots better than her pre-meet ranking, placing 44th.

Grace Drobek and Emily Craig placed 78th and 83rd for the squad, though those scores didn't factor into the team score.

"They all raced as hard as they could. They gave it all they had," Steamboat coach Lisa Renee Tumminello said. "Everyone was racing forward. You didn't see anyone coast a little bit. They never stopped racing."

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Steamboat was fourth last year, a result that whet the team's appetite for more. A state title was even within sight Saturday. The athletes didn't yet know the results as teams were being announced to the podium and the public address announcer drew out the suspense as long as possible when he got to No. 2. Would it be Steamboat or Peak to Peak?

The girls pulled tight into a hug in front of the stage and waited.

It was Steamboat called first, second place. The tension of the moment made it feel like a little bit of a disappointment. It was anything but, however.

"Second place is a victory for this program and where's it's come," Boniface said. "This a huge victory. This is awesome."

Cotton races strong

On the boys side, Steamboat's Sumner Cotton put together a strong race in his first trip to state. He finished in 17:38.1, good for 49th place in the 160-runner field. He'd hoped for a top-50 finish and outperformed that.

Steamboat's Jon Ruehle also competed Saturday in the state cross country unified race, a 1-mile run in Colorado Springs. Ruehle had some finish line highlights of his own as he picked up his pace as he entered the stadium and passed a fellow competitor before the finish line.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9.

Steamboat Class 3A cross country state championship results

Girls individual results
1. Quinn McConnell, Peak to Peak, 18:31.6

2. Anna Shults, Peak to Peak, 18:38.5

3. Tiana Bradfield, Peak to Peak, 18:48.3

4. Maggi Congdon, Steamboat, 18:54.1

9. Winter Boese, Steamboat, 19:11.15

14. Dasha Kutnetsova, Steamboat, 19:39.5

42. Isabelle Boniface, Steamboat, 20:30.0

44. Sadie Cotton, Steamboat, 20:32.8

92. Grace Drobek, Steamboat, 21:41.5

98. Emily Craig, Steamboat, 21:48.2

Girls team results

1. Peak to Peak (1+2+3+21+55) 82

2. Steamboat Springs (4+8+13+37+39) 101

3. The Classical Academy (9+10+16+34+51) 120


Boys results

1. Mason Norman, The Classical Academy, 15:56.7

2. David Fine, Elizabeth, 16:02.1

3. Blake Davis, Lamar, 16:17.5

49. Sumner Cotton, Steamboat Springs, 17:38.1

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