Steamboat track loaded with big dreams, more than 100 athletes | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat track loaded with big dreams, more than 100 athletes

Steamboat Springs sophomore Siera Harrison bursts from the blocks with a pack of Sailor teammates Thursday during track practice. Harrison’s doesn’t typically encounter starting blocks in running longer distances, but got a quick overview Thursday.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The conversations are different now for the Steamboat Springs High School track and field team.

"We're doing it for state," sophomore Maddie Craigen said Thursday, her workout for the day just finished.

There was a drive behind her words, authority in her voice.

"We're going to state," she'd said earlier, between drills, "and we're going to set the school record."

Qualifying for the state championships, setting school records, even five years ago, those goals weren't often a part of the conversation for Steamboat Springs track athletes. There weren't even very many track athletes around to have such conversations, but early this spring, it all seems possible for the Sailors.

There are 109 athletes out for the sport this spring, "well," coach Lisa Renee Tumminello said, "maybe 110. There's one kid who's thinking about it."

Recommended Stories For You

That's nearly 10 times as many athletes as were on the team before she got involved in 2014, and that rapid expansion has changed the conversations for coaches, too.

What if the entire Sailors team deployed to the same meet some weekend?

Five years ago, it could have been done perhaps with two large SUVs, certainly with a small bus. Now, would it take two buses or three? Two, they figure, with the chance of a small bus or Suburban being pulled in for overflow.

Steamboat, a school with seven team state championships in its history, didn't send a single athlete to state in 2011, 2012, 2013 or 2014, the year Tumminello stepped in to split head coaching duties with Erik Ramstad.

There wasn't a lot of school record setting in that span, either.

The team finished last season with two new school records, one of which was broken several times, it qualified athletes for state in six events, and once there, it won five medals.

Five years ago, the Sailors may have struggled to put together a 400- or 800-meter relay team. Thursday, the five girls on the sprint relay teams — Craigen, Erica Moos, Ingrid Wedel, Annika Malacinski and Kari Saunders — talked of those big goals.

"Last year, we had a good 4×100-meter team, but we weren't really driven as much to go to state," Craigen said. "This year, we're super determined to get to state."

They're not the only ones with lofty goals. Such ambitions have spread across the team.

The squad topped 100 athletes by taking all comers. There are accomplished skiers, soccer players, volleyball players and football players plus plenty who don't compete in any other sport.

"I wasn't feeling baseball, which is normally my sport, and my friends were like, 'Hey, run track’" said senior Canon Reece, the leading rusher and receiver on Steamboat's football team last fall.

He went out for track for the first time last spring and this year was elected a team captain. He competes in sprint relay events, pole vault and in the 400-meter run, a race he once was sure he'd always hate.

"It's such a positive environment," he said of the team. "The coaches are always pushing you. They wanted me to run the 400 last year, but I said, 'I am not doing it. This race is horrible.' Now it's my favorite race. They pushed me and pushed me and saw something in me I didn't see in myself and really pushed me toward that."

The team opened its season two weeks ago with a meet in Rifle, posting strong results right from the start.

Wedel won the girls high jump, leaping to 4 feet, 8 inches. Maggi Congdon won the girls 800-meter run with Winter Boese fourth. Sidney Barbier was eighth in the 3,200 and Moos 10th in the 100. The girls 1,600-meter relay placed second.

On the boys side, Eric Casey was fourth in the triple jump and fifth in the pole vault. Dawson Lindquist was fourth in high jump. Zach Gollnick placed eighth in the 100, Kyle Spognardi was ninth in the 800 and Jack Tracy was 11th in discus. The Sailors also had a fifth-place 400 relay and sixth-place finishes in the 800 and 1,600 relays.

The team kicks off a busy stretch of competitions Friday with a trip for half its athletes to Meeker. It will send the other half of the team Saturday to Grand Junction, then hit meets in Glenwood Springs and Eagle Valley next week.

It can manage all of that with just two buses, but it'll be close.

"It's awesome," Reece said. "We're always joking around and having fun, but we're pushing each other and helping each other out. It's a good competitive environment, but a friendly one, as well."

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9.