Steamboat Springs The weather made it feel a little like spring, but that didn't stop the members of the Steamboat Springs High School cross country team from excelling at the winter sport they love.
"The temperatures soared, and the day felt like it was late March, not the first day in February," coach Brian Tate said.
But the warm weather didn't seem to impact Austin Ross or Korie Steitz, who led the Sailors in the 5-kilometer cross country race. The event was held at the Gold Run Nordic Center near Breckenridge.
Ross placed third in the boys' race behind winner Simi Hamilton (15:12) of Aspen and Summit's Matt Dayton (15:25), who was the runner-up. Ross' time of 15:31 highlighted the local finishes. Steamboat's Marty Smith finished sixth (15:46), Mike Gleason was seventh (16:12), Justin Krause was 14th (17:12) and Keegan O'Hara finished 53rd with a time of 20:31.
Haliegh Armstrong of Vail Mountain edged Steamboat's Steitz in the girls' race. Armstrong crossed the finish line with a time of 17:55 and Steitz followed at 18:08. Meredith Gilliland of Summit placed third with a time of 18:33.
"It was an awesome race," Steitz said. "I've been sick the past couple of weeks, so it was nice to get out there. It felt pretty good."
Steamboat's Lisl Pearson was 18th (21:21), Jennifer Hooper placed 20th (21:41) and Rachel Ryan took the 46th spot with a time of 27:05.
It was the Steamboat skiers' fourth race and second classic event of the season. The team has two more scheduled races. The Sailors will travel to a freestyle event in Lake County on Feb. 10 and compete in one more classic race in Vail Feb. 15.
"Our goal this season is to win a team title at the state championships," Steitz said. "I will be happy if I can finish in the top 3 as an individual."
Steitz said most of the skiers on the team also compete in Rocky Mountain Division races as well, but a few of the members compete only at the high school level.
"It's been a lot more fun having those girls on the team," Steitz said. "It shakes things up a bit and we all have a good time together."
Following the regular season, the skiers will begin to prepare for the state meet, which will be held Feb 21-22 at the Beaver Creek Ski Area.
Steitz said the intensity of the team's workout pace has increased in recent weeks because of the state meet (and also the Junior Olympics for the RMD racers) and she expects that trend to continue.
She said this is the point of the season where teams have to pick it up a bit if they want to be in the state title hunt.