Steamboat Springs 4×800-meter relay graduates 2 from four-year tradition
LAKEWOOD — The Steamboat Springs High School girls 4×800-meter relay team made going to state a tradition in 2016.
“It was the first time we had a team qualify in many, many years,” Sailors head coach Lisa Renee Tumminello said. “We had an individual jumper of the year the year before, but now, they’ve been able to compete each year.”
The Sailors have competed in two different classifications over the past four years, starting with Class 4A in 2016, then 3A in 2017 and 2018 and moved back into 4A this year. Despite the change in class, Steamboat remains a consistent contender in the 4×800-meter relay.
2016: The first lap
The 2016 team featured seniors Alexandra Tumminello, Allison Casey and freshmen Kathleen O’Connell and Winter Boese with freshman Isabelle Boniface waiting in the wings as an alternate.
Steamboat ran a time of 9 minutes, 47.79 seconds to take 10th overall in Class 4A at state that year, and the seniors passed the baton down to the spots they left vacant.
2017: An unlikely finish
The 2017 team added freshman Maggi Congdon to the mix while also entering Class 3A. Boniface made the relay, and Boese returned for her second trip to state.
In an end-of-season scramble, freshman Siera Harrison broke her collarbone and freshman sprinter Annika Malacinski was called in to fill the fourth spot on the team.
The Sailors stunned the competition, taking seventh place.
2018: Shattered records
Boniface, Boese and Congdon returned to the relay team last year, with freshman Marcada Baker, a sprinter with an unlikely gift for mid-distance running, joining the trio.
Something clicked, and the team, competing in Class 3A for its second year, shattered the previous school record set by the 2016 team with a time of 9:30.99 to take home a bronze medal.
2019: Solidifying the standard
Back in Class 4A for her final year on the 4×800-meter relay, Boniface passed the baton for one final time to Boese after running the second leg.
Boniface, slowed by a cold, wasn’t having her best day.
“This is my last race for track ever,” Boniface said. “I just kind of started, and I just went. I was just thinking, ‘Don’t get passed by too many girls, your team is counting on you. Keep turning your legs over.'”
Baker kicked off the relay pacing the first lap then kicking her legs up on the final 200 meters of her second lap to make up for lost ground. She had the Sailors in third place by a few strides. Boniface fell back to 10th by the time she handed off to Boese, and Boese tried to chase down the bodies she saw immediately in front of her.
“I focused on the girl ahead of me, and I just kept choosing a new girl,” Boese said. “It was hard. The end of the first lap was kind of hard, so I had to keep reminding myself that I’m running for a lot of things.”
Congdon powered through the final leg, putting Steamboat back in the top four. On the final straightaway, two girls from Durango and Centaurus moved to the second lane in an effort to pass her, but Congdon never lost speed, crossing the line in fourth place.
“The last 200 or 300, some people started cheering really loudly, and that’s how I knew they were close,” Congdon said. “So, I tried to kick it in.
“I think we might’ve been hoping for more, but we’re so happy to place that high in that competitive of a division.”
Despite taking third last year in Class 3A, the team had only run together once this season to qualify as the 13th seed. They surpassed expectations by nine spots but ran a time of 9:37.36, meaning their school record from last year will hold.
1. Battle Mountain, 9:22.99
2. Eagle Valley, 9:27.80
3. Palmer Ridge, 9:33.06
4. Steamboat Springs, 9:37.36
“It’s been the largest and greatest part of high school and my favorite sport that I’ve ever done in my four years of doing it,” Boniface said. “I’m so honored I got to run for these girls. There’s no one else I’d rather run for.”
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