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Runners hoping to catch coaches’ eyes at meet

— This Saturday’s meet in Rangely will be the last time the Sailors cross-country team will compete as a full team this season.

After the meet, John Smith and his assistant will have to sit down and determine which runners will represent the school at the regional meet the following weekend at Delta’s Confluence Park.

“I don’t worry about it,” freshman runner Mike Gleason said of the cut. “I don’t have any expectations this season, so I’m not thinking about regional too much.”

Still, most of the runners realize the meet will be one final chance to catch the coach’s eye and maybe, just maybe, make it to the regional level this season.

“It’s an important meet because it’s the last chance to see the kids run before we have to select the regional squad,” Smith said.

In the meantime, Smith said practice will be a little more laid back this week as the squad starts to taper for the regional meet. The runners spent Tuesday night’s practice playing a game of big ball soccer a chaotic game that involves three oversized plastic balls and two goals in the snow.

Business will turn pretty serious once Saturday’s meet at the golf course in Rangely is over, however. That’s when Smith and his assistant coach will review the entire season to come up with a limited number of runners who will extend their season with a place on the regional team.

“We will choose the team based on the entire season,” Smith said. “We will be looking at how the kids did in each meet, their work ethic and how hard they practiced during the season.”

Smith said he always dreads cutting his team down to the top seven boys and top seven girls runners. But he knows selecting the right runners to represent the school at the regional meet is also key to the team’s success and a possible berth to state.

The team is coming off a meet in Aspen where Jennifer Hooper led the girls team to an eighth-place finish and Mike Gleason helped the boys team place 14th. There were 15 girls and 20 boys teams at the meet.

Hooper finished the 5-kilometer course with a time of 21 minutes, 31 seconds to place 19th overall. Teammate Lauren Lightfoot was 22nd at 21:52, Laura Philip was 57th at 23:14, Tess Hottenroth was 64th at 23:25, Emily Hines was 86th at 24:27, Julie Wernig was 87th with a time of 24:32 and Lindsay Stanford came in 108th at 26:09. There were more than 130 girls in the race, which was dominated by the Moffat County girls team. Glenwood’s Caroline Cretti was the top individual in the race with a time of 19:48. Moffat County runner Danielle Brown was third with a time of 20:11. She was followed by teammate Charlotte Steele in fourth, Laurel Mortensen in seventh and Beth White in eighth.

On the boys side, Gleason led the Steamboat runners with a 64th-place finish. He finished the course in a time of 19:01. Hennie Kashiwa was 78th (19:24), David Mathei was 80th (19:28), Nathan Proper was 88th (19:36) and Daniel Ward was 97th at 20:13.

“I think I could have done a little bit better,” Gleason said. “But it was a pretty good showing for our team.”

Many of the 24 boys teams at the meet were from larger divisions, including Palmer. Top 4A schools like Cheyenne Mountain and Dakota Ridge were also at the meet.

There were 138 runners in the boys race with Palmer taking top honors. Moffat County came in sixth, Glenwood Springs was seventh and Steamboat placed 14th.

Palmer’s Charles Berg set the pace in the race with a time of 16:42; Cheyenne Mountain’s Steven Wills came in at 16:55 and Montrose runner Ben Tobler followed him at 17 minutes flat.

Smith said his team is looking forward to this Saturday’s meet on the hilly terrain of the Rangely golf course.

Smith said several of his top runners, including Lia Utu, Julie Wernig, Emily Hines, Tess Hottenroth and Hennie Kashiwa, will be out taking SATs.

“It’s a great course and it should be a lot of run,” Smith said.


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