SSHS cross country at 4A state championship meet
Fossil Ridge High School, Fort Collins
5K - grass/dirt
Boys 21/25 594 pts.
81. Brittany Long 21:13.25
36. John Cutter 17:01.97
110. Peter Daley 17:58.97
118. Jack Burger 18:06.12
142. Buddy Kinder 18:24.77
188. Asher Rohde 19:56.62
196. Cam Comeau 23:05.07
Fort Collins As each of the Sailors harriers clutched at their sides, gasped for air and fought their way through the finish line at Fossil Ridge High School in Fort Collins, coach Matt Reinhold couldn't help but smile.
Steamboat didn't win a team title or place a runner in the top 25 in Saturday's Class 4A state championship meet, but Reinhold was amazed with his team nevertheless.
"We fought through a lot this year," Reinhold said. "We've had a ton of injuries, setbacks and different things that have popped up throughout the year, trying to derail our team goal.
"And that is always to go to state."
The team traveled with eight harriers, five of which were competing in high school cross country for the final time.
"There is no better way to go out than to run at state," Reinhold said. "The amount of fans on both sides of the trail, cheering your name, it's unbelievable."
The boys team soaked up the celebrity status, finishing 21st overall in front of the more than 1,000 dedicated fans in attendance, a number that Reinhold shakes his head and smiles at.
"I'll tell you what, everyone on this guys team, at some point or the other, was out a part of this season," he said. "They all battled through the pain and really stuck together and helped each other out."
"To finish where we did - to finish at all - just shows how hard these guys pushed."
Senior John Cutter led the boys team, clocking in at 17 minutes, 2 seconds, placing 36th.
"I'm pretty happy with that," Cutter said. "I came in here wanting to be in the top 50, and I got that."
Cutter competed in his second state event in just his first full year on the team.
The former soccer player joined the team midway through last season, and the sport has stuck.
"I plan on walking onto a team in college," he said about his plans to continue to run. "I really enjoy it, and I had a lot of fun."
Peter Daley, the second of Steamboat's five seniors, placed 110th (17:58.97), sophomore Jack Burger - who won a bronze medal in last week's tennis championships - placed 118th (18:06.12), senior Buddy Kinder placed 142nd (18:24.77), freshman Asher Rohde placed 188th (19:56.62), and senior Cam Comeau placed 196th in 23:05.07.
"Coming into the race, Peter was actually sick the whole day yesterday, so him coming in and stepping up and running this race, was really big," Reinhold said. "He ran with John as long as he could, bringing John along, so that helped. Later on, Jack Burger stepped up, helped Peter out the last mile, then Buddy was right there with Jack. So they ran as a pack really well."
Charlie Stoddard didn't race after tearing a tendon in his hip at last weekend's regional championships in Delta.
"We really missed Charlie today," Reinhold said, "Him in the race would have helped out a lot, but you, know we have to make the best with what we have. It was a good race for us.
"We all ran together and stuck together."
Senior Brittany Long was the lone Sailor girl to qualify for the high school cross country season finale.
Long completed the 5,000-meters required in 21:13.25, placing 81st overall.
"It's tough whenever you are running by yourself," Reinhold said. "She didn't have her team behind her like every other week this year. You end up getting stuck with all different groups of girls, and you're not really sure of where you are supposed to be.
"She put forth the best effort possible today, so all-in-all, she closed her year by working hard and making it here."
Reinhold hasn't been at the helm of the Sailor cross-country team forever - Saturday wrapped up his second season - but losing five seniors that he's been around for two falls still hits home.
"They are a great group of kids," he said. "This year we've had a great following with booster club giving us a big pep rally, a police escort out of town, that was big. The kids really enjoyed that. We've spent a lot of time together, and it's going to be sad to see this many kids go.
"But, I'll tell you what. We made it to state, and that's the best way to end a career."