The members of the Steamboat Springs cross country team continue to impress coach John Smith, particularly with their performances at meets Smith deems to be more training runs than competitions.
Twenty-five members of the Sailors' team competed in the Georgetown Invitational on Tuesday, with Tyler O'Leary leading the way for the boys and Jennifer Hooper pacing the girls.
Smith did not have overall team finishes but wasn't concerned with where the Steamboat boys and girls placed in the Tuesday invitational hosted by Dakota Ridge.
After all, the Sailors were coming off two top team finishes in the Steamboat Springs Invitational on Saturday. Tuesday's meet in Georgetown was more about training and learning the proper way to run with more than 200 varsity participants on course.
Smith estimated more than 300 runners took part in the junior varsity races and nearly 45 schools were represented.
"It was purely a workout," Smith said. "We weren't expecting anything, and I was fortunately surprised with the efforts the kids put out. Some ran really fast and ran smart races. It was a learning experience to be involved in a race this big with this many people."
Traditionally, the 3.1-mile course in Georgetown is set up so the runners have to go through Lake Georgetown, which Smith said he personally enjoys watching. This year, however, organizers did not take the runners through the lake. Instead, they had the pleasure of navigating through piles of mud while in race mode.
O'Leary finished in 17 minutes, 53 seconds, which was good enough to place third overall. He was followed by Davis Miller (19:00, 29), Mike Gleason (19:06, 35), Sam Tarrant (19:13, 41) and Alex Miller (19:33, 55).
All five boys easily placed in the top half of the varsity division.
On the girls' side, Hooper finished fifth overall in 22:35. She was followed by Sarah MacCarthy (22:52, 15), Katie Conrath ( 22:58, 17), Tara Wernig (23:18, 25) and Kelli Parnell (25:07, 94).
Several of the Sailors' top female runners did not make the trip to Georgetown because of injuries. At this point in the season, it makes little sense for a runner to risk further injury by competing in a Tuesday meet with the all-important regional meet one month away.
The next competition for Steamboat's cross country team will be the Middle Park Invitational at 9 a.m. Saturday at Snow Mountain Ranch outside Granby, featuring many top teams and runners from the Denver area.
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