Sophomore Sean Geisler, from left, freshman Asher Rohde and senior Brittany Long run down the Yampa River Core Trail on Wednesday in Steamboat Springs during cross-country practice. The squad's season gets under way next week.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Sophomore Sean Geisler, from left, freshman Asher Rohde and senior Brittany Long run down the Yampa River Core Trail on Wednesday in Steamboat Springs during cross-country practice. The squad's season gets under way next week.

Making state not enough for boys

Cutter, Stoddard hope to join elite

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2008 SSHS cross country schedule

Sept. 6 Steamboat Invitational, 9:30 a.m.

Sept. 12 Kadet Invitational at Air Academy, 4 p.m.

Sept. 16 Chatfield Invitational, TBA

Sept. 20 Moffat County, TBA

Sept. 27 Summit, 10 a.m.

Oct. 4 Mountain View Invitational, TBA

Oct. 11 Wiggins Invitational, TBA

Oct. 18 Regionals at Delta, TBA

Oct. 25 State, TBA

— It's been as rhythmic as the late-summer afternoon thunderstorms that seem to always appear on the horizon.

John Cutter said the same thing last spring, and he said the same thing all summer.

He said the same thing whether speeding down a mountain trail, flying around a high school track or winning a Steamboat Springs Running Series race.

For the Steamboat Springs High School boys distance runners, it's all about cross country, and this season, it's all about state.

Now that the season finally has arrived - Steamboat kicks off its campaign next Saturday with its own invitational - Cutter's tone hasn't changed a note.

"We really want to shoot high," he said. "We want to win regionals and finish high at state, and with how wide open the field is this year, we can do it."

Cutter was accompanied step for step last spring during track season and this summer during training by fellow senior Charlie Stoddard. Together, the pair is set on not just making state, but thriving there.

They helped lead Steamboat to a third-place finish last year at regionals, and this fall hope to win at the Oct. 18 meet in Delta before logging a top finish at state.

Steamboat welcomes back four varsity veterans, including Jack Burger and Buddy Kinder, who both ran at regionals last year.

The focus for Cutter and Stoddard is personal, as well. The pair said the coming months are an opportunity to land a college scholarship. They plan to do so by slipping their 5-kilometer time under 16 minutes.

Not only would that be a huge improvement on their marks from a year ago, it'd make them a couple of the top runners in the state.

"We really believe it's realistic," Stoddard said. "We're already running a lot faster than we did last year."

The focus is different for Steamboat's girls team. The group is bursting at the seams, loaded with new faces. That's a fantastic problem for a team that was so stricken by injuries a year ago it struggled to find five runners healthy enough to finish last year's regional race.

The girls return two of their top runners from last year, both of whom are anxious for a healthy season.

"There were days last year we'd be lucky to have two people running," veteran junior Jaime Winter said. "This year, there are a ton of us. It will give us a lot of variety if people get injured again."

Winter said the girls team would be happy to fight its way into the top five teams at regionals.

Senior Brittany Long, meanwhile, is set on qualifying for state as an individual, and joined Stoddard and Cutter throughout the summer hoping to enter her senior season as strong as possible.

"This is my second year as coach, and this type of teamwork - the way they've been working all year-round - last year that wasn't there," Steamboat coach Matt Reinhold said. "It seems like we have more of a passion for running and improving. It's great to see."

- To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 871-4253 or e-mail jreichenberger@steamboatpilot.com

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