At regionals, Summit High boys cross country qualifies for state, Grace Staberg qualifies individually

The Summit High School varsity boys cross-country running team poses for a group photo with their second-place trophy at Thursday's regional meet in Grand Junction.
Courtesy Heather Quarantillo

It was a day of realized goals for the Summit High cross-country running program as for the first time in more than a decade the boys team qualified for the state championship.

Led by a pair of top-10 finishes from seniors Max Bonenberger and Jeremiah Vaille, the Tigers boys finished in second place out of 12 schools at Thursday evening’s 4A Region 1 5,000-meter race in Grand Junction. Running under perfect autumn conditions on the fast grassy course at the Lincoln Park Golf Course.

All but one of Summit’s varsity boys runners set personal records, the team totaling 55 points, well ahead of third-place finisher Conifer (74) and just behind regional champion Battle Mountain (48). In Colorado high school cross country, the lower the team score the better, as individuals are awarded points in relation to their place.

In the lead for the Tigers in the 107-athlete boys race, Bonenberger’s sixth-place time of 15 minutes and 44.1 seconds was seven seconds faster than his previous record time. Bonenberger ran Thursday’s race in the chase pack with his fellow Summit senior Jeremiah Vaille, who broke his personal record by 13 seconds with his eighth-place time of 15:56.57. It’s the first time he’s broken 16 minutes in a 5,000-meter race.

Bonenberger and Vaille said they couldn’t be more proud to help lead the boys team to its first states qualification since 2008 and only the second time in head coach Heather Quarantillo’s 18 years coaching the program. It was a sentiment the coach echoed.

Summit High senior Grace Staberg (seventh from left) poses for a photo after her ninth-place finish, and state-meet qualification, for next Saturday’s state meet at Thursday’s regional meet in Grand Junction.
Courtesy Heather Quarantillo

“It was a pretty monumental occasion for the boys team. We’ve been focused on this since the day we started our season,” Quarantillo said, “and we knew this was a possibility with this crew since the start.”

The qualification meant a lot for the boys, who weren’t able to qualify for states as a team last season.

Summit’s fastest female runner on Thursday, Grace Staberg, missed qualifying for states individually last year by just two spots. Focused on finishing in one of the top-15 spots in Thursday’s 105-athlete girls race, Staberg pushed the pace early, knowing an early start served to her advantage against the competition rather than a late kick. In the end, Staberg held on to not only qualify for states in ninth place, but to smash her previous personal record by 35 seconds, with a time of 18:14.14. It’s the first time a Summit girl has qualified for state since 2015.

Staberg’s time earned the girls team 9 of their 227 team points which placed them in ninth. Other top Summit girls runners included Alice Wescott (42nd place, 20:13.10), Logan Reid (47th, 20:38.39), Paige Wescott (75th, 21:35.51), Aubree Confer (78th, 21:46.34) and Nika Dassati (72nd, 21:53.03).

Back on the boys side, Quarantillo lauded the efforts of freshman Dom Remeikis, senior Paul Hans and Sam Burke. Remeikis’s time of 16:10.06 broke his previous freshman school record and earned him 13th place. Hans had a career day with his 22nd-place time of 16:40.91 while Burke, who didn’t run most of the season due to injury, was the Tigers’ fifth-fastest runner at 17:08.09. Another freshman in Zach McBride finished in the top half of the field with a 51st-place showing (17:34.22).

The Tigers varsity boys team and Staberg will next run at the state championship meet, scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 26 at the Norris Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs.

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