The experience level on the Steamboat Springs cross country team was a key component to its success this season. Seven of the Sailors' primary varsity runners were seniors, leaving vacancies for returning members of Steamboat's team to fill next fall.
Though Steamboat doesn't run a JV-specific schedule, the Sailors did take younger runners to meets throughout the season to help them gain experience in the race atmosphere.
"All the younger runners did exceptionally well this year," coach John Smith said.
Most notable among the list of younger runners were junior Kelli Parnell and freshman Matt Hill. Both went from a JV role to that of a state-meet participant. Parnell won the Aspen JV race earlier this season, Smith said, and her continued improvements earned her a spot on the girls regional and state teams.
Hill replaced senior Tyler O'Leary at the state meet after O'Leary suffered a leg injury.
Smith will not be back to coach next season, but he said there is a talented pool of athletes for the future of Steamboat's cross country program. More than 40 athletes participated in cross country this fall for the Sailors.
Other runners poised to make significant contributions next season are freshman Tim Ascher and Soroco sophomore Kieran Corrigan on the boys' side and juniors Florie VanBaak, Madison Proper and Kelly Berig on the girls' side, Smith said.
Steamboat's returning varsity members could include: Parnell, Jen Hooper, Katie Conrath, Sarah MacCarthy, Hill, Mike Gleason, Andy Garber and Sam Tarrant.