Led by one of the fastest boys’ teams in memory, Summit High School cross-country expects big things in 2019
BRECKENRIDGE — There’s a palpable buzz around this year’s Summit High School cross-country boys team.
In her 18th year leading the program, head coach Heather Quarantillo didn’t mince words when talking about the boys’ potential.
“The boys’ team is better than we’ve ever had before,” Quarantillo said before practice Thursday, on the eve of the Tigers’ first meet of the season Friday: the Cheyenne Mountain Stampede in Colorado Springs.
“We have more depth, we have more speed, and we have a team that can potentially do some really great, exciting things and potentially go to the state championships,” she said.
The veteran core of the Tigers boys’ team knows all too well how close they were last season. They were just one spot — 12 points — away from booking their ticket to run as a team at state. They finished in fifth place at a regional meet that sends the top four teams to state.
The good news for the Tigers is that Quarantillo is confident the boys are head and shoulders above where they were last year, led by experienced seniors Max Bonenberger, Jeremiah Vaille, Sam Wescott and Paul Hans. That quartet is also joined by fellow senior veterans Caleb White and Mike Tebow, runners who could contend for the team’s seven varsity spots.
Aug. 31: Boys third, girls ninth at Battle Mountain Invitational Sept. 7: Boys third, girls 12th at Liberty Bell Invitational Sept. 14: Boys 1st, girls 11th at Eagle Valley Invitational
Sept. 20: Boys 1st, girls 11th at Dave Sanders Invitational
Sept. 27: Boys 4th, girls 7th at Warrior Classic
Oct. 4: Boys 6th, girls 16th at Pat Amato Classic
Oct. 9: Boys 1st, girls 6th at Rifle Invitational
Oct. 17: Boys 2nd, girls 9th at Regionals at Lincoln Park Golf Course
Oct. 26: Boys 2nd at States at Norris Penrose Events Center
Then there is junior Sam Burke, a runner Quarantillo said could be the team’s top athlete on any given day. To make matters even better for the Tiger boys, junior Korben Long and freshmen Dominyk Remeikis, Zachary McBride and Landon Cunningham are running fast enough to contend for varsity spots.
“It’s not a huge surprise because we have seen a lot of the younger guys run over the summer,” Vaille said about the underclassmen. “It’s cool to see all of the freshmen being able to help us.”
The group’s familiarity with running dozens of cross-country and trail events with one another over the years should benefit the team come race day. And having freshmen run as fast as they are this early on is kind of like icing on the cake.
“Our boys team, all top five of them will be in there within 30 seconds of each other at the finish,” Quarantillo said.
Though the girls’ side doesn’t return the same speed and depth as the boys squad, Quarantillo is confident the girls are rebuilding the program’s momentum. Senior Grace Staberg leads the way for the girls after she missed qualifying for states by just two spots last autumn.
Joining Staberg on the girls varsity squad will be top returners junior Alice Wescott, sophomore Aubree Confer, junior Sadie Schroder and seniors Josie Jardon and Misha Martin Williams. The team also will benefit from the return of senior Lexi Morici, back at Summit High School after attending school out of state for a couple of years. Throw in speedy freshman Paige Wescott and Logan Reid, and the girls certainly have potential.
“We definitely want to work more on pack running because it’s a strategy that gets you farther, and you can run together, and it’s just a good motivational factor, as well,” Alice Wescott said.
Leading the way for the girls, Staberg said she’d like to get her 5K time into the low 18 minutes after running as fast as 19:03 last season. But after a summer devoted to endurance training for the multisport star, Staberg said the first week of practice has been humbling in terms of getting back into the speed groove.
That element of transitioning back into cross-country style running versus trail or endurance running is a big variable for the Tigers’ top runners.
That said, a leader like Bonenberger has his sights set as high as possible. He would like to get his time down to 15:30 after running as fast as 16:05 last season.
If the Tigers get their way, he won’t be the only one running that fast.
“It should be exciting,” Burke said. “And it should be really fast.”
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