Lady Tigers looking to 5-peat at state meet | SummitDaily.com

Lady Tigers looking to 5-peat at state meet

ADAM BOFFEYsummit daily newsSummit County, CO Colorado

Summit Daily/Mark Fox

SUMMIT COUNTY – Most state champions are familiar with the concept of shedding blood, sweat and tears in order to get to the top.Briana Perkins is no exception.The Summit High School Nordic skiing standout has wept through some painful leg massages lately for a simple reason – she’s looking to defend her individual state titles in both skate and classic today and Friday in Steamboat.”I’ve been getting my legs worked on all week,” said Perkins, who’s been dealing with pestering, undiagnosed pain throughout the season. “The deep-tissue massage really hurts, and it makes me cry, but it’s helpful. Hopefully, I’ll go out and be 100 percent.”The Lady Tigers, who are inextricably paired with their alpine counterparts for the next two days, will be counting on their frontrunner as they attempt to claim a fifth consecutive crown.”I think about it a lot,” Perkins said when asked about the undeniable dynasty that’s been established in the High Country (34 state championships between both genders). “Every time someone mentions state, I get all nervous.”

Perkins’ anxiety is probably a good thing for Summit High School, because it means she’s not complacent.”The girls have a really good shot (at repeating),” Tigers Nordic coach Gene Dayton said. “But the worst thing they can do is assume it’s in the bag.”The Lady Tigers have had a stellar season, winning two high school races. The girls alpine team has enjoyed less success thus far, but that won’t matter if they can step up to the plate in Steamboat.”We haven’t been as consistent as we wanted to be,” said senior Erin Breslin. “But I think we’ll be all right.”The key for the female downhillers will be getting down the course without falling or missing a gate, also known as standing up.Breslin expressed confidence in both girls squads prior to the alpine team’s final practice of the season Tuesday at Keystone.”I know they have a strong team,” she said in regards to the Nordic side. “So if we hold up our end of the deal, I’m sure they’ll follow through.”

Breslin will be joined by, among others, veterans Chelsey Fretz, Laurel Broten and Meigan Canfield in today’s slalom at 3 p.m. and Friday’s giant slalom at 9 a.m.Top Summit skiers who will be chasing Perkins on the girls Nordic side include Mackenzie Jones and Julia Hayes – all three girls were recently named to the U.S. Junior Olympic team, which will compete at season’s end in Anchorage, Alaska.Boys squad not cool with second placeWhile the Lady Tigers were celebrating after last year’s state championship, their male counterparts were left to ponder falling five points short of Aspen and finishing second.”I don’t want that memory again,” said Nordic skier Tyler Reinking. “Because as a senior, it’s the last one I’m going to have.”Alpine racer Drew Beling, who won a giant slalom at Ski Cooper on Jan. 25, can relate to Reinking.

“These are really the last two races of my career,” Beling said. “I don’t want to go out thinking I could have done better, so I want to give it my all and see what happens.”SHS alpine coach Tory Hauser is clearly optimistic about Beling’s chances in Steamboat.”I think Beling has a chance of winning (an individual state title),” Hauser said. “He’s skiing fantastic right now, he’s worked out hard and he’s studied the sport. … Zach Fretz (runner-up in last year’s state GS race) is in the same boat. They’re pushing each other and helping each other as well as helping the rest of the team see things and get prepared – we just haven’t had (past) seniors do that.”Beling and Fretz are joined by seven other seniors and just a handful of underclassmen. The squad’s overall experience could prove to be a major advantage.”I’ve typically picked who I wanted to go fast and who should hold back,” Hauser said. “But this year, it’s just go for it. We’ve got enough depth.”The boys Nordic side may not have as deep a squad as the alpiners, but they do have enough players to give Summit a realistic shot at its first crown since 2006.Richard Hayes and McCabe Jones (along with Reinking) have been skiing especially well lately.

“(Hayes) could surprise us all,” Dayton said. “It’s happened before.”Summit’s fifth-year coach went on to reference Pete Richmond, an SHS alumnus who won a classic state title in 2004 after never winning a regular-season race.”The coaches got lucky with the wax,” Dayton recalled. “That’s when coaches become an integral part of the team.”If the wax is right and the Tigers are fast in Steamboat, Summit could come home with more hardware for the trophy case.”This is the race we focus on annually,” Dayton said. “All the other competitions are fun, but we have a legacy of excelling at this competition that’s gone on for more than three decades.”Adam Boffey can be contacted at (970) 668-4634, or at aboffey@summitdaily.com.