Steamboat Springs If running among 100 or so people battling for few spots to state isn’t challenging enough, consider that no member of the Steamboat Springs High School cross-country team has ever tackled today’s course in Montezuma-Cortez.
Nevertheless, Steamboat enters today’s regional meet eyeing one of the top four team spots or top 15 individual spots that will gain runners entry into the state meet.
The regional site, awarded on a rotational basis by the Colorado High School Activities Association, welcomes the boys at 11 a.m. today and the girls at 12:30 p.m.
Thirty-two teams will attend, including 11 in Steamboat’s class, 4A. To make matters more interesting, rain is in the forecast.
“The goal is to definitely qualify for state and get in the top 15,” Steamboat’s Jack Burger said. “I feel like I can do that. We need some really good things to happen with the team, but we can do it. Right now we’re ranked eighth in our region. But that doesn’t mean a whole lot. Not all of us have run together yet at a race.”
Steamboat will compete with Battle Mountain, Eagle Valley, Delta, Durango, Glenwood Springs, Moffat County, Montezuma-Cortez, Montrose, Palisade and Summit County.
The team left Friday to walk the course and plans to run parts of it early today before the race.
Although no member of the team has run the course before, it’s expected to be hilly, which could help a Steamboat team.
“We’re as prepared as we’re going to be,” Dominique Powers said. “I think I’ve seen a definite improvement among everyone.”
The region is deeper than previous years, with multiple strong teams and a plethora of strong individuals.
Take, for instance, Steamboat’s No. 2 boys runner, Asher Rohde. Rohde ranks 15th in the region, and No. 3 runner Jeff Sperry ranks 18th.
“We have a much faster region than we have in years past,” said Sperry, who qualified for last year’s state meet. “I think the course fits us. I’m personally better running on strength. We’ve done more hill work preparing for it.”
Steamboat is expected to bring a full contingent of boys and girls teams.
Expected to compete for the boys team are Burger, Sperry, Rohde, Zach Sperry and Colton Lewer. On the girls side, Powers, Skylar Weir, Cassidy Fox, Anne Poirot, Emma Wilson, Kelly Borgerding, Lena Barker and Liza Stout are expected to run.
Moffat County runner Chris Zirkle — who attends school in Hayden — is expected to be one of the top boys battling for a regional title.