Steamboat, Soroco prepare runners for state meet
October 24, 2018
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include runners from Hayden High School representing Moffat County at the state cross country meet.
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Routt County will have a strong presence at the state cross country meet in Colorado Springs on Saturday, Oct. 27.
Both Steamboat Springs and Soroco high schools will send all girls teams to compete, while the Rams will also bring one individual from the boys' side.
The Steamboat Springs girls team placed fourth overall in the Class 4A regionals, just a year removed from being Class 3A regional champions.
"We all knew it was going to be really tough," senior Isabelle Boniface said. "The coaches were like, 'Here's the deal, you're ranked five right now, that doesn't mean you're not going to make it. You guys can, but you've got to have a good race.'"
Steamboat Springs went on to qualify Boniface, junior Maggi Congdon, senior Winter Boese, sophomore Sidney Barbier, junior Emily Craig, freshman Katie Lake and junior Grace Drobek for the state meet. Junior Siera Harrison and freshman Courtney Vargas will join as alternates.
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The regional competition proved that the Sailors could compete at a higher classification, and punched tickets for seniors Boniface and Boese’s fourth trip to state. That was something in the back of the girls’ minds at regionals, helping their seniors get back to where they need to be.
“We may not have the fastest PRs, but we are championship racers,” junior Maggi Congdon said. “We race well when it matters.”
In preparation for the state meet, the girls are enjoying a lighter week of workouts, but members of the team that did not qualify are helping them stay on pace at practices.
But the state trip is not just about competition, it’s something special and testament to the Steamboat Springs program.
“We rose to the occasion being in the higher division, we had to work harder than last year and made it to state,” Boniface said. “It's so fun just to be there. It's just being there with all these teams. Look like a force; we look like a family and it looks really cool.”
Looking the part is the fun in it. The team is making T-shirts, spray painting “State XC” in red and black with last names on their back. The sleeves will be tied with ribbon and, as tradition, the girls wear their hair in two french braids. Boniface plans to add a mix of red and sparkly Halloween hairspray to commemorate her final state appearance.
When they return Monday, Oct. 29, the girls will sport their state shirts they buy at the stadium, as a reminder of their hard work coming to fruition.
“We always talk about grit and getting in the pain cave,” Harrison said. “All of us take that really seriously. There's no skipping out on hard workout days.”
This is Harrison’s second trip to state and she returns as alternate. Barbier, an alternate in last year’s competition, will compete for team points this year. Vargas, an alternate, and Lake will also enjoy their first trip to state as freshmen. Juniors Congdon, Drobek and Craig have been to state before.
“The course is mentally challenging and physically challenging,” Craig said. “It was about grit. It's only 20 minutes of pain.”
Senior Chloe Veilleux is in pursuit of taking back her state title from her sophomore year.
At last week's regional meet, Chloe raced to a first-place finish with a time of 18 minutes, 53 seconds, leading the second place runner by more than a minute.
Chloe's drive stems from last year's performance, where she placed sixth overall with an illness. But that was tough, knowing what it felt like to win from the year before.
"When she won two years ago, they didn't expect her to win," Bradley said. "She was a sophomore who won regionals, so that caught the eye of some, but she was not the favorite that year. At the 2-mile mark, she was in fourth or fifth.
"She was quite a ways behind the leaders and it was a really hot day. Coming into the stadium, she was a good 75 yards ahead of everybody else and she just sprinted and we all went crazy."
Bradley keeps records from every practice. She times every single runner to the last second on each workout, so when the team revisits a similar workout the next year, she can see the improvement. It's a better indicator of their growth than comparing race times, since the courses still vary.
Chloe's times have all improved.
"She's been far ahead of her times in almost every workout," Bradley said. "And I know she has the capability of running faster than she did that sophomore year. It's the matter of staying healthy and having the right mindset going in, believing she can do it."
The rest of the Rams team is made up of five freshmen and one junior. Chloe's sister, freshman Betsy Veilleux, finished third at regionals with a time of 20:27, nudging out her competition by 11 seconds.
Freshmen Kayedence Bruner and Hailey Minnick followed in 12th and 20th places, junior Kourtney Bruner came in 21st then freshman Kayla Rossi finished at 31st. Freshman Erika Sjoblom did not score, but finished in 50th place and will attend state competition as an alternate.
"Some of those kids running fast times now, if you had seen them the first couple of practices or races, they're like completely different kids," head coach Callie Bradley said. "They know what they can do and they always seem to given the choice, they always choose to push harder and that's really something I admire about the whole team."
Currently, the girls team stands as second in Class 2A behind Platte Canyon, but Bradley believes there is a real shot at a state title, a monumental achievement for a team that's only been in existence since 2014 and a 2-year-old middle school program that fed five state qualifiers to the high school team this season.
Sophomore Alex Colby will make his first trip to state as the only qualifier from the boys side. Bradley said Colby applied the proper training over the summer to give him a head start this year. He started the season with an ankle injury, and re-injured it midseason, but overcame it for a 14th place finish at regionals. He’s expected to place in the top 30 at state.
"That's exciting thinking about the next couple of years," Bradley said. "They're all going to get better and that's a testament to Matt [Mayer] building the middle school program that we have all these freshman that came up and accepted the challenge. I know they were hurting the first couple of weeks, it's never easy bumping up the mileage, but they all took it on."
Hayden runners to represent Moffat County
Hayden runners Theo Corrello, Keaton Knez, Chris Carrouth and Wyatt Mortenson helped the Moffat County boys team qualify for state, aiding in its second-place performance at the Class 3A Region 1 meet on Friday, Oct. 19 at Aspen Municipal golf course.
Two runners placed in the top 10. Mortenson took third overall with a time of 17 minutes, 10.6 seconds, Carrouth placed 10th with a time of 18:02.2. Knez and Corrello placed 22nd and 28th respectively to also aid in the team’s scoring.
Hayden will also send Makenna Knez to the state meet. Makenna was the second-best finisher on the Moffat County team, taking seventh overall with a time of 20:40.1.
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