Steamboat cross country attracts runners of all kinds
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Cross country is unlike other high school sports, attracting a wide-range of athletes with vastly different goals.
“We’ve got Maggi Congdon, who’s our two-time state champion in the 800 and the mile, so her goals are to win the state meet,” Steamboat Springs High School cross country assistant coach Kelly Boniface said. “Then there are kids, they’ve never even run a step before, so completing a cross country meet would probably be their goal.”
That might be part of the reason for its growth. As of Aug. 17, the team has 86 athletes, with potential for more to come.
“We encourage the two-sport athlete, which, that’s not always the case,” Boniface said. “We have kids that are also playing club soccer or also Alpine skiers or Nordic skiers that are going to be with us a few days a week, or musicians. There’s a gigantic cross section of different types of athletes on this team.”
Head coach Lisa Renee Tuminnello gathered the athletes for the morning’s announcements. She encouraged them to stay safe with the smoky air conditions: taking inhalers if needed or switching to a bike. It’s also ok to walk, as long as they are going the distance.
“With something like running, it’s a very repetitive sport, so we are very committed and passionate to giving them cross training opportunities,” Tumminello said. “It’ll make them stronger and keeps them fresh mentally. One of our overriding goals is if we are inspiring athletes to be athletes the rest of their lives, then that’s a great thing.”
On Monday, Tumminello will take the team to Old Town Hot Springs where they will practice running in the deep end.
“They’re in a running position, the only thing above water is from their chin up,” Tumminello said. “And it takes an incredible amount of core strength to hold above water. They do a running stride, you don’t run very fast, but it’s fantastic and amazing for strength or any kind of injury or rehab.”
Training varies with some runners like Congdon, who have been running all summer. Assistant coach Glen Light is the brain behind the training plans for specific athletes.
Sept. 1: Battle Mountain
Sept. 8: Heritage
Sept. 15: Eagle Valley
Sept. 25: Soroco
Sept. 29: Moffat County
Oct. 5: Delta
Oct. 11: Rifle
Oct. 19: Regionals at Battle Mountain
Oct. 27: State in Colorado Springs
“Glen gave me and a couple of athletes a program to do. Longer runs and stuff like that just to stay in shape, nothing too intense, but when we come into the season we’re at a higher level instead of easing into it,” Congdon said. “It’s just more than I’ve done in the past. Last year, I ran 3 to 4 days a week and this year like 5 to 6 days a week and I did a little bit of cross training and went on some bike rides and made sure I didn’t get injured.”
Congdon also stayed competitive, competing in the National High School Trail Championships in Salida this summer. Congdon placed third overall of 28 runners. Steamboat’s Isabelle Boniface and Sidney Barbier would also grab top 10 spots to aid in the team title. In the two years the event has been around, Steamboat girls have won it.
It’s all part of the plan to get back to the state championships this year, where the team took 2nd overall in Class 3A. This year, they’ll compete in Class 4A, but Congdon doesn’t think the competition will be that different.
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