Steamboat Springs High School skier Melissa Krause competes in the state high school cross-country skiing championship race at Howelsen Hill in Steamboat Springs, CO on Thursday, February 21, 2008.

Photo by Brian Ray

Steamboat Springs High School skier Melissa Krause competes in the state high school cross-country skiing championship race at Howelsen Hill in Steamboat Springs, CO on Thursday, February 21, 2008.

Sailors' Krause puts together sick run

Nordic skier paces girls team; boys in fifth after Day 1 of championships

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Steamboat Springs High School skier Jasper Gantick competes in the state high school cross-country skiing championship race at Howelsen Hill in Steamboat Springs on Thursday, February 21, 2008.

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Steamboat Springs High School skier Mary Rose competes in the state high school cross-country skiing championship race at Howelsen Hill in Steamboat Springs, CO on Thursday, February 21, 2008.

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Steamboat Springs High School skier Lexie Ruppel competes in the state high school cross-country skiing championship race at Howelsen Hill in Steamboat Springs, CO on Thursday, February 21, 2008.

— Her voice barely audible after Thursday's race, Steamboat Springs High School senior Melissa Krause wasn't going to let a little sickness get in the way of finishing strong in one of her last scholastic competitions at Howelsen Hill.

Krause, a Nordic skier who has been sidelined more than two weeks because of illness, strapped on skis Thursday morning and blistered the 5-kilometer state championship skate race, finishing in fourth place.

"I haven't been training or racing, really," said Krause, whose time of 16 minutes, 28 seconds was a little more than one minute behind overall winner Briana Perkins of Summit High School. "This was hard for me. I really like this course. It's hard, but it's hard for everyone. It felt good for being sick."

Krause helped the Sailors girls Nordic team ski to 156 points and fourth place after one event. Aspen's girls led the way, totaling 160 points. Summit sits in second at 159 points, while Vail Mountain High School is in third with 158 points. The Nordic state championships continue today.

Krause, who didn't compete at last week's meet in Durango, said she wasn't sure whether she'd compete Thursday.

"I was debating whether to race, but it's my last race in Steamboat ever," Krause said. "It just felt really good."

Mary Rose helped the Steamboat cause with a 10th-place finish. Lexie Ruppel, who didn't qualify for the state skiing championships last year, finished an impressive 14th. Liza Stout (21st), Eva Lambek (36th) and Sarah Dixson (40th) also finished for Steamboat.

"I think with the girls and them finishing that close - with all four of the top teams so close together - that's right where I want them to be," Steamboat Nordic coach Chrissy Lynch said. "Being four points away from first, that's really strong."

On the boys side, Steamboat was paced by the strong skiing of Peter Daley. Daley finished in eighth with a time of 14:30.

"I wanted to do a top 10," Daley said. "I've been coming in, like, 13th at every race."

Vail Mountain High School led the way for the boys with 176 points by placing four skiers in the top five. Summit is in second with 160 points, Aspen is third at 149 points, Lake County has 146 points and Steamboat is fifth with 141 points.

"This is the closest they've been in a while," Lynch said about the boys team. "They're in the running for third place. It's great."

Steamboat's Kyle Steitz (13th), Jasper Gantick (26th), Wiley Thayer (39th) and Kris Allen (43rd) each helped the Sailors score points.

"This is the first time I've really raced in a while," said Steitz, who has battled a back injury the past couple weeks but hopes to finish in the top three in today's classic race. "I'm looking forward to (today). I want to get a podium at my last high school race."

Today's classic race is a mass-start event at Howelsen Hill. The girls begin at 3 p.m., and the boys follow at 3:45 p.m.

- To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229

or e-mail lgraham@steamboatpilot.com

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