Tiger harriers eager, prepared to improve off last year | SummitDaily.com

Tiger harriers eager, prepared to improve off last year

BRYCE EVANS
summit daily news
Summit County, Colorado

FARMER’S KORNER – It’s been four weeks since the Summit High cross country team started its training. The Tigers have done at least one long run each week, interval training in distances of 1,000 and 800 meters and slugging up hill after hill to build their endurance.

And their reward for the weeks of hard work? Well, they get to run – in today’s season-opening meet at Beaver Creak.

“Our training has been a lot better this year than in years past,” senior captain Julia Hayes said. “We’ve been a lot more focused on what we need to do. Hopefully that helps when we start going to meets.”

Really, head coach Heather Quarantillo expects the preparation to pay off, which is why she decided to start the season a bit later than normal.

A year ago, both the boys’ and girls’ teams were relatively young. The boys showed their youth and inexperience with a ninth-place finish at regionals. The girls, meanwhile, made a trip to the state meet for the sixth straight year, although finished a disappointing (for them) 20th place.

Quarantillo expects both teams to be improved this fall.

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The boys have seven returning runners and a handful of freshmen who could step into the lineup.

“We should have a very competitive boys’ team, because even the boys who will start the season running JV should run some varsity races this year,” Quarantillo said. “It’s really competitive for the seven spots, which will definitely help everyone.”

Junior Emmett Bailey will captain the boys’ contingent, and just through the early season training, he already feels a change in the squad.

“The boys I’ve been running with have been going a lot harder,” he said.

Also returning to the lineup are seniors Duncan Koehn and Ian Parker and juniors Quinton Bobb and Troy Meeker.

Quarantillo also expects freshman Liam Meirow to make an impact for the varsity squad.

All the depth makes Bailey think the boys have the potential to make the state meet, something only one Summit boys’ team (in 2008) has ever done.

“It may be kind of a lofty goal, but I think we can do it, and that’s what we’re going to try to do,” he said.

The girls’ team isn’t going to settle for just showing up at state.

Hayes and team captain Cali Greksa have raced in the state meet all three years of their varsity careers. And each season, the Tigers have dropped off a bit from their fourth-place finish during Hayes’ and Greksa’s freshman season.

“We’ve had really strong teams in years past,” Greksa said. “Not so much last year, but I think we’ll be stronger this year.”

The girls also return a slew of starters. Aside from Greksa and Hayes, Tess and Paige Olson and Sydney Stein were on last year’s state squad.

The key for the Tigers – both boys and girls – is to peak at the right time.

That’s why the training needs to be intense, that’s why the Tigers push themselves each day at practice.

Through it all, the team grows together, Hayes said. And they need to, as each runner relies on the other in helping the team finish well.

“Even though we secretly want to push each other over in races, we still love each other and it’s a good team-bonding type thing,” said Hayes, a state champion Nordic skier. “We create really good friendships here, and that’s nice.

“Finishing closer together helps us for the team score. So, it’s really important to push each other in every race.”

Bryce Evans can be reached at (970) 668-4634 or at bevans@summitdaily.com.