Kieran Corrigan didn't do anything special Saturday morning. He ate pancakes and bacon for breakfast, warmed up like he always does and took off at the race's start. But the end result for the Steamboat Springs cross-country runner was anything but typical.
Corrigan, who attends Soroco, ran a personal best time of 17 minutes, 13 seconds to finish 20th inidividually and help the Steamboat boys place fourth as a team and qualify for next Saturday's Class 4A state meet. Corrigan's previous best time in the five-kilometer race was 18:20.
Steamboat senior Jennifer Hooper also qualified for the state meet at Saturday's regional race. She was the only girl to do so for the Sailors.
Last year, Corrigan was an alternate for the boys regional team. This year, he heads to state as one of the Sailors to watch after shaving more than a minute off his previous personal best time of 18:20.
Sam Tarrant, Steamboat's top male finisher, turned around when he got to the finish area Saturday and saw the pack. He didn't expect Corrigan to be right behind him.
"He ran a great race," Tarrant said. "Everyone finished really close, which is awesome."
Tarrant, who achieved his goal of finishing in the top 15 to qualify for state individually, was 15th in 17:05. Corrigan was 20th in 17:13. Mike Gleason finished 23rd in 17:19. Andy Garber was 24th in 17:21. Matt Hill was 28th in 17:43, and Marty Smith was 30th in 17:49. Justin Krause was 52nd in 20:04.
The regional meet was held in Delta for the second straight year. The flat, fast course set up around the lake at Confluence Park is more similar the state course than the hills where Steamboat runners are accustomed to training. But the boys adapted well Saturday.
"We did have a really good race," Gleason said. "As far as splits, we ran really close. We knew it would be a close team race."
Steamboat scored 99 points to place among the top four. Moffat County won the meet with 30 points. Battle Mountain was second with 48 points, and Montrose placed third with 79 points. The top four teams qualify for state.
The Steamboat girls team scored 119 points, placing fifth to just miss out on a state berth. Moffat won with 46 points. Battle Mountain was second with 57 points. Summit was third with 74 points. Glenwood finished in the all-important fourth spot with 107 points.
The Bulldogs swept the regional meet for the first time since 1995.
Leading the way for the Steamboat girls was Hooper, who placed sixth overall in 19:12. Before Saturday's regional meet, Hooper said she wanted to run well to qualify for the state meet but hoped and planned to peak on the state course at the Vineyard Golf Course in Colorado Springs.
"After the first mile, I was right where I wanted to be," Hooper said. "I tried to stay positive throughout the whole race. This week, I'll just take it easy and prepare mentally. You can't do anything else physically."
The addition of Summit and the rise of Battle Mountain made this year's regional race more difficult for the Steamboat girls team, but it was a strong field for Hooper to run in. Summit's Whitney Anderson, one of the nation's premier high school distance runners, showed why she is the favorite to win the state meet, running away from the regional field to win in an astonishing 16:56. Her time was good enough to have placed among the top 12 on the boys' side.
Although Hooper's season was extended because of her top 15 finish, the rest of Steamboat's girls are done for the year. Katie Conrath was 23rd in 20:31, Madison Proper was 31st in 21:40, Sarah MacCarthy was 32nd in 21:47, Alyssa Walter was 39th in 22:04, Florie Van Baak was 44th in 22:31, and Colleen Treanor, also from Soroco, was 51st in 24:51.
Palisade's Glen Randall won the 4A regional race easily in 15:34. Randall is the defending Class 4A state champion, but the addition of the D'Evelyn and Denver South to Class 4A means Randall will have to run better than he did Saturday to win again.
The Class 3A meet also was held in Delta on Saturday. Aspen's Christy Severy won the girls' race in 18:47. Hotchkiss' Garrett Marquardt won the 3A boys' race, the closest race of the day, in 16:18.
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