Soroco hopes to stengthen program’s foundation with strong showing at state cross county meet | SteamboatToday.com

Soroco hopes to stengthen program’s foundation with strong showing at state cross county meet

Soroco Rams cross country runners Ben Kelley, front, Chloe Veilleux, middle, and Kourtney Bruner head out on a training run near Soroco High School earlier this week. The three runners will travel to Colorado Springs on Saturday to compete for titles in the 2A Colorado State High School Cross County Championships.

— Four years ago in Oak Creek, the idea of an athlete bringing home a title in cross country was unimaginable — the school didn't even have a team.

But things have changed in South Routt County.

"Back then if a kid wanted to run cross country they would have had to have gone to Steamboat, or not have run at all," Soroco coach Callie Anderson said. "This program gives kids who enjoy running a shot to do it."

This Saturday, when the runners step to the line at the Norris Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs for the Colorado State High School Championships, there will be three runners from Oak Creek with a shot at a state title. There will be two with times that rank them at the top of the state.

"Times in cross country are all so relative," said Ben Kelley, who will represent Soroco High School in the boys race. "It's always a different course, always a different competition. It's not like track were you can directly compare times … but I'm looking to win, that's about it."

Kelley, who will be making his third state appearance in three years, currently holds the second fastest time in the state at 16 minutes flat. Jerald Taylor of Custer County High School posted the fastest time of the year for a 5-kilometer race at 15:41 back in September at the Liberty Bell Cross County Invitational.

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Going into the meet, Taylor will be considered one of the favorites. The list of contenders that Kelley will also need to top if he wants a state title will include Rangely's Patrick Scoggins, who has the fourth-fastest time in the state at 16:04.31 and beat Kelley at the regional meet last week in Delta.

"The race the other day was good. I've been dealing with some illness, so the other day I ran the race strategically. I took it easy the first couple of miles and then tried to kick it at the end,” Kelley said. “It didn't work out. I didn't win. It was still a pretty good race, and I'm looking forward to state, and I'm definitely feeling better."

The individual success of the Soroco Rams cross country team has been impressive, but Anderson is really hoping that this group of runners, which includes Kelley, who is a junior, and Brad Veilleux and Joshua Taing, both sophomores, will continue to grow. Her hope is that the runners will be able to qualify as a team, something the boys fell just short of this season.

But the strength of the Soroco program reaches beyond the boys team.

This year, two South Routt runners will be contending for a state title on the girls side, including Chloe Veilleux, who not only won the regional meet in Delta but also holds the fastest time in the state for the division.

"I'm trying not to get too excited because there is no doubt that there will be good competition at state," Veilleux said. "I'm definitely looking for the win, but I know it will not be easy."

Her time of 18:43.06, which she recorded at the regional meet, is the fastest in the state. She knocked off Soleil Gaylord of Telluride, who set the mark of 18:51.90 back in September. Annie Hughes of Buena Vista High School also has to be considered one of the favorites with her personal best time of 18:59 flat.

"That was a big step in my career," Veilleux said of winning the regional title. "Beating the No. 1 girl in the state was pretty exciting. We've kind of had rivalry the past couple of years, and it was cool to beat her for the second time. She usually beats me."

Anderson was impressed with the girls showing in Delta at regionals and felt like if the team had a third runner on the roster, the Rams would be running at state this week.

As it is, Veilleux will be joined at the race by freshman Kourtney Bruner, who placed 13th and earned an invitation to state. The top four teams qualified for state along with the top 15 individuals.

"It's exciting to see what our girls team is doing right now," Kelley said. "I think Chloe has just as good a chance to win the girls state as I do to win the boys state. That's exciting. Especially considering that this is a program that is only three years old.”

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966

Title favorites, local contenders

State seed, runner, school, best 5K time

2A Boys

1 Jerald Taylor, Custer County High School, 15:41.00

2 Ben Kelley, Soroco High School, 16:00.00

3 Cody Danley, Rocky Ford High School, 16:02.30

2A Girls

1 Chloe Veilleux, Soroco High School, 18:43.06

2 Saleil Gaylord, Telluride High School, 18:51.90

3 Annie Hughes, Buena Vista High School, 18:59.00

42 Kourtney Bruner, Soroco High School, 21:54.74

3A Girls

1 Quinn McConnell, Peak to Peak Charter, 17:55.00

2 Kayla Young, Denver North, 18:00.00

3 Lily Tomasula-Martin, Estes Park, 18:10.00

8 Maggi Congdon, Steamboat, 18:58.17

10 Sadie Cotton, Steamboat, 19:09.45

11 Winter Boese, Steamboat, 19:10.36

43 Kandice Kittinger, Steamboat, 20:11.79

47 Isabelle Boniface, Steamboat, 20:21.05

110 Meg Anderson, Steamboat, 21:24.15

184 Nichole Mueller, Steamboat, 22:20.73

214 Emily Craig, Steamboat, 22:43.30