Asher Rohde, a junior at Steamboat Springs High School, will travel Dec. 11 to Alabama to race in the Junior Olympic nationals.

Photo by John F. Russell

Asher Rohde, a junior at Steamboat Springs High School, will travel Dec. 11 to Alabama to race in the Junior Olympic nationals.

Steamboat runner qualifies for Junior Olympic national race

Rohde still racking up miles

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— The high school cross-country season ended in October, but someone forgot to tell Steam­boat Springs’ Asher Rohde.

The Steamboat Springs High School junior placed 34th in the Class 4A high school state championships Oct. 30, but carried on with his season Nov. 20 in the Phoenix area at the Region X Junior Olympics cross-country championships.

Rohde was fifth in that race, ensuring that even after his trails have given way to snow and ice, he’s still competing. He qualified for the Dec. 11 Junior Olympic nationals in Hoover, Ala.

“I’m expecting to do well,” he said. “The last one was really fun. I really like going to run in warm weather.”

Rohde said he hung near the front of last weekend’s 5-kilometer race but still had to surge to lock up fifth.

The day was hot and the course dusty, he said. He finished in 17 minutes, 2.28 seconds, five seconds ahead of his nearest competitor and 13 seconds behind a pack of runners that included the race’s top finishers.

“It was hot,” Rohde said. “The course was pretty flat, basically a giant loop. I was in the top 10 for pretty much the entire time.”

Rohde said he doesn’t know what to expect from his trip to Alabama. The Arizona race featured nearly 40 runners, but the field at nationals should be much bigger.

He’s been trying to keep up his training and shined in Thurs­day’s local Turkey Trot, a 4.6-mile running race in Steamboat. He placed second.

Still, that freezing course across a snowy, icy road should prove far different than the environment he’ll find in Alabama.

“I’ve never run in a nationals before. I’ll just go and try hard,” he said. “I’ll go out there and give it my all.”

Rohde isn’t the only local high school student who refused to acknowledge the end of the fall sports season.

Hayden’s Chris Zirkle, who ran cross-country for Moffat County High School and placed third in the state meet, ran in the Nike Cross National Southwest Regional in Gilbert, Ariz.

The event packed 280 runners onto the same course Nov. 20. Zirkle finished the 5-kilometer course in 84th place, crossing in a time of 16 minutes, 24.12 seconds.

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