Delta Steamboat Springs cross-country team went into a flatter, lower-elevation course last week in Wiggins hoping to set new personal marks and gain confidence heading into the regional meet Saturday in Delta.
Steamboat didn't stop improving there.
One week after each runner on both the Sailors boys and girls teams established a personal best, each runner then rebroke his or her personal best again in Delta.
"It was pretty much perfect conditions," Steamboat coach Matt Reinhold said. "Wiggins was our fastest course, but now Delta is our fastest course.
"It was definitely our kids stepping up, knowing they can compete with the teams. And our best taper wasn't designed for meets like in Aspen; it was aimed for championship times, and now, we're getting ready for state."
The top four teams in the Western Slope region advance to the Class 4A state championship meet Oct. 27 in Colorado Springs.
The Steamboat boys finished third to qualify. The Sailors girls team, however, finished in seventh place with no individual qualifiers, ending its season Saturday.
Defending state champion Battle Mountain ran away with the boys regional title, with its top five runners all finishing in the top 10. Moffat County beat Steamboat by 11 points, but Steamboat was able to secure third by a single point against Montrose.
The Steamboat pack hung
tightly together, with its top five runners finishing 58 seconds apart. Charlie Stoddard led the way, finishing in 15th place in 17 minutes, 35 seconds. Sam Chovan finished next for the Sailors in 17:45, followed by John Cutter (18:08), Jackson Wren (18:14) and Jack Burger (18:30). Cam Niswander and Garret Ehrick also hoofed their best races of the season, completing the Steamboat pack.
Reinhold also noted Buddy Kinder's effort in the open division. As the Sailors varsity alternate, Kinder was back from three weeks without a race due to a foot stress fracture. He gutted out a finish in 19:27.
The Sailors girls, plagued by injuries all season, also featured some determined performances. Brittany Long, also running on a stress fracture, finished first for Steamboat in 21st place overall. Alyssa Walter finished closely behind Long with the best finish of her high school career, at 22:37.
"She's a senior and that's the best she's ever run, so it was nice to see her finish out on top," Reinhold said of Walter.
Jorid Halsnes scored for the Sailors in third followed by Jaime Winter, coming in on a sprained ankle and Cameron Osteen finishing fifth with a sore IT band.
"We've got a lot of good things going for next year," Reinhold said of the girls team, looking ahead while also thinking about next week for the boys. "Next week is a whole new race."