Summit cross-country team pursue goal of state qualification following productive summer of training
After running countless miles over the summer alongside one another, the Summit High School cross-country team has laid a proper base for a successful fall season.
The Tigers are looking to improve upon the finish the team had at the conclusion of last season where the boys team placed fifth and the girls placed seventh at the 4A Region 1 cross-country meet last fall.
In the state of Colorado, the top four boys and girls teams from each region advance to the state cross-country meet alongside the top 15 individuals in each regional race.
Last year, the Tigers did not advance to state as a team but sent then- freshman Ella Hagen and junior Dom Remeikis to the big show as individuals after both placed fourth overall at last year’s regional meet.
Summit cross-country team head coach Mike Hagen expects that Ella Hagen (his daughter) and Remeikis won’t need to individually qualify for the state meet. He’s instead optimistic about both the boys and girls teams’ chances of to qualify by way of top-four regional meet finishes.
“It was a good summer. We had some good training,” Mike Hagen said. “Our varsity runners from last year trained quite hard, and the majority of them trained through the summer. They are coming into the season really fit.”
One of the reasons Mike Hagen is so confident in his team heading into the season is the vast improvement that’s already been seen this season.
In an inter-team time trial on Monday, Aug. 23, at the Frisco Peninsula, the team showed strong improvements from last year. The boys top-five runners averaged 43 seconds of improvement, and the team’s top girls averaged 42 seconds.
Remeikis improved 36 seconds over the 3-kilometer course and Ella Hagen took 51 seconds off her time from last year.
Mike Hagen thinks the team has seen such a big leap from last year because of the team culture that he sees starting to form among the team. In his first season as head coach last year, he worked to build a culture of hard work, but it wasn’t until this year that the culture really started to take shape.
“We are working on establishing a team environment where having fun but working hard is the norm,” Mike Hagen said. “Training hard and putting the effort in is important if you want good results, and we have motivated kids who want good results and are putting in the work to get them.”
Leading the team in helping to establish the essential team culture are seniors Remeikis, Landon Cunningham and Zach McBride. Mike Hagen says the trio has especially stepped up this year — leading by example and encouraging their teammates in practice.
On the girls team, Make Hagen says that the team will be equally led by a group of varsity returners and its three seniors.
Beyond the time improvements and team bonding, the team’s pursuit for qualifying for state is also aided by a reshuffling of classifications and regions that took place during the offseason.
Green Mountain and Golden have both left 4A Region 1, with Rifle and Bear Creek replacing the two teams.
With Green Mountain and Golden leaving the region, the girls have an opportunity to significantly move up at the regional meet after finishing in seventh place last year. Golden placed third while Green Mountain was fifth at regionals last year.
The region realignment does not affect the Summit boys cross-country team as much, but it still keeps the window open for the team to chase down a top-four, state-qualifying spot.
If both teams can make the state meet at the end of October, the teams will face a less-stacked 4A classification after the strong teams of Air Academy, Centaurus and Erie moved up to 5A during the offseason.
“They are starting to develop the confidence that they can do it, understanding that they are going to have to work hard,” Mike Hagen said.
With the season set to begin on Saturday, Aug. 27, in Minturn, Mike Hagen and the rest of the team could not be more excited for the season to begin.
“I am looking forward to seeing the improvement from last year,” Mike Hagen said. “I am also looking forward to seeing how our freshmen do.”
The Battle Mountain Husky Invitational in Minturn is expected to start at 10 a.m. for the boys race followed by the girls race at 10:30 a.m.
Aug. 27, at Battle Mountain Husky Invite in Minturn, 10 a.m. boys, 10:30 a.m. girls
Sept. 2, at Cheyenne Mountain Stampede in Colorado Springs, 4:30 p.m. girls varsity, 5:10 p.m. boys varsity
Sept. 10, Liberty Bell Invitational in Littleton, TBD
Sept. 17, St. Vrain Invitational in Lyons, 9:30 a.m. girls varsity, 10:05 a.m. boys varsity
Sept. 23, Dave Sanders Invite in Littleton, 3:40 p.m.
Sept. 30, Desert Twilight, TBD
Oct. 1, Copper Mountain Cup at Copper Mountain Resort, 11:30 a.m. girls varsity, 11:30 a.m. boys varsity
Oct. 7, Pat Amato Classic in Northglenn, 2:30 p.m. boys varsity, 3 p.m. girls varsity
Oct. 12, Rifle Invite in Rifle, 4:40 p.m. girls varsity, 5:20 p.m. boys varsity
Oct. 20-22, 4A Region 1 Regional Meet in Glenwood Springs, TBD
Oct. 29, Colorado State cross-country championships in Colorado Springs, TBD
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