Steamboat’s Maggi Congdon tops field of mountain towns in the 800, eyes the mile title
LAKEWOOD — Being from a mountain town can put runners at a disadvantage during the winter months of track season.
Five of the nine podium finishers were from Steamboat Springs High School, Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley. Steamboat’s junior Maggi Congdon finished in second.
“I know many of Battle Mountain’s athletes are also Nordic skiers,” Steamboat head coach Lisa Renee Tumminello said. “A lot of those athletes have parents that were strong endurance athletes. I would say it’s an altitude thing, but that actually works against you, because you’re racing and trying to recover at altitude.”
Tumminello said that the coaches at higher altitudes have to navigate a balance between creating a strong racing calendar and allowing the athletes to properly recover. The difference in oxygen content affects muscle adaptation and tissue regeneration almost as much going from 5,000 feet to 7,000 feet as it does going from sea level to 5,000 feet.
As a result, the Eagle Valley, Battle Mountain and Steamboat high school competitors bond in their similar racing calendar. Every race could be anybody’s race, but Congdon’s strategy to pull to the outside at the beginning of the straight and kick through a full sprint until the finish put her at the front of the mountain towns.
“Personally, that was truly an inspiring race by Maggi and an absolutely well-executed race,” Tumminello said. “It’s tricky because you have to be sprinting, and Maggi could’ve easily gotten boxed in and made moves when she needed to make moves to put herself in a strategic position to go forward. That field was so deep.”
“Yesterday in the 4×800 [meter relay], Battle Mountain won, Eagle Valley got second, we got fourth, so the Western Slope is just killing it,” Congdon said. “We’re always compromised by the snow, and being able to pass people who train year-round is so rewarding.”
Congdon never likes to lead a pack, but once on the final straightaway, she moved to the outside to stride past her group for the lead.
1. Taylor James, Niwot, 2:08.29
2. Maggi Congdon, Steamboat, 2:13.35
3. Samantha Blair, Eagle Valley, 2:13.54
4. Joslin Blair, Eagle Valley, 2:14.44
5. Naomi Harding, Battle Mountain, 2:14.88
7. Lizzy Harding, Battle Mountain, 2:15.72
“Last year, I kicked it in that same spot,” Congdon said. “I didn’t want to kick on the curve because that’s really hard. I stick with people and kick at the end and that’s normally my game plan because it usually ends up pretty well. I don’t like leading early. I’d rather just stick with people and have them pace and draft them.”
Congdon won the state championship in the Class 3A 800 meter last year. Her personal best time was 2 minutes, 14.07 seconds until today. She finished with a new school record and personal best time of 2:13.35.
It helped that the competition heightened this year. Niwot sophomore Taylor James broke the state record at the front with a comfortable five-second lead. The three behind her finished within one second of each other.
“[Class] 3A was also competitive last year, but with 4A there’s a lot more depth,” Congdon said. “Instead of three people running at one time, there’s like 10.”
Congdon is seeded 10th going into Saturday’s 1,600-meter run final. She opted out of the girls 4×400-meter relay and her individual state qualification in the 400-meter dash to focus on the distance race. Congdon is the last remaining competitor for Steamboat, since the 4×400 failed to qualify for Saturday’s final.
“She is a championship racer,” Tumminello said. “She knows how to step to the line in championship races. She clears that playing field in her own head, and she races her race like she did today.”
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