Summit High boys cross-country runners place strong seventh at state meet

Senior Grace Staberg runs to 19th of 151 in girls 4A state meet

The Summit High School Tigers compete in the 2019 Colorado Cross Country State Championships on Saturday, Oct. 26, at the Norris-Penrose Event Center in Colorado Springs.
Liz Copan /

COLORADO SPRINGS – The Summit Tigers boys cross-country running team was slotted into the No. 1 starting spot on the inside of the opening stretch of the 5,000-meter state championship course at the Norris Penrose Events Center. As the Tigers took their final warm-up jogs and sprints down the inside fence, seniors Jeremiah Vaille and Max Bonenberger brought the seven boys together.

This, Summit’s first appearance as a boys team at states in years, was the moment they’d all grinded so hard for. And Vaille and Bonenberger, two veterans who ran individually at last year’s states, imparted a final bit of wisdom on their Tiger teammates.

“Max and I went last year,” Vaille said, “so we knew it was kind of stressful. It’s a big start line and it’s intimidating with hundreds of these fastest runners in the state and in the nation right next to each other. We told the team it was intimidating. But we are fast, and we’ve been training for this. So we tried to be excited for it and spread excitement through the team.”

Whatever Vaille and Bonenberger said served as the ideal final inspiration for the Tigers boys. Fewer than 20 minutes later, Summit’s top-5 varsity runners all crossed the finish line with sub-19-minute times to earn the Tigers a tie for eighth place with Rocky Mountain rival Battle Mountain, out of the 20 schools competing in the 4A boys championship race.

But it was Summit’s sixth runner, Giovanni Marquez, who provided the crucial tie-breaker for Summit. Though his time of 18 minutes and 14.8 seconds didn’t count toward Summit’s point total of 216 (tabulated by Summit’s top-5 runners) Marquez’s time was better than the sixth-fastest Battle Mountain time. As such, the Tigers took the tie-breaker and bested the Huskies at the final meet of the season just over a week after Battle Mountain defeated them for the regional championship.

For Tigers head coach Heather Quarantillo, the team-wide effort on Saturday was the perfect exclamation point on a team-centric year. When asked what one word described this year’s Summit boys team, it was “united.” And they were never more together than Saturday.

“It goes with everything that we try to teach them all the time,” the coach said, “that every person on the team matters. And everyone can make a difference as well as every single pass that a runner makes can influence a team score. This is a big deal.”

Led by senior Jeremiah Vaille’s 13th place showing, the Summit Tigers boys cross-country team ran to the best showing of any school in their region at Saturday’s state meet, their seventh place (out of 20 schools) just ahead of High Country rival Battle Mountain.Vaille and his fellow Tiger seniors Max Bonenberger and Paul Hans chat about what this special season means to them and the Summit Tiger program.

Posted by Summit Daily News on Saturday, October 26, 2019

A year after Vaille and Bonenberger finished 77th and 102nd respectively at last autumn’s 161-runner state race, the seniors ran to 13th (16:30.5) and 36th (17:00.2) in their Summit swan songs. The Tiger leaders were bolstered by freshman phenom Dom Remeikis, who was the fastest freshman not only the 157-runner 4A race, but in any of Saturday’s state championship races, with a time of 16:53.3.

With three years ahead of him, the highest of Rocky Mountain skies is the limit for Remeikis’ high school running career.

“I definitely thought I’d be up there,” Remeikis said of his expectations entering the season, “but I didn’t think I’d be that far up, which is kind of cool. It’s a fun experience.”

Summit’s other finishers at states were senior Paul Hans (87th, 17:53.5), junior Sam Burke (96th, 17:58.0) and freshman Zach McBride (125th, 18:42.3).

Staberg finishes top-20
When Jason Staberg moved up from the Denver area with his freshman daughter Grace a few years back, the middle school cross-country runner was hopeful to find a “tribe,” as her father put it, of like-minded student-athletes here in Summit.

Between ski mountaineering and cross country, has she ever found that. And since joining the Tigers running team as a junior last year, has Staberg ever contributed just as much as she’s received from that tribe.

After just missing qualifying for states last season, Staberg ran to 19th of 151 runners at Saturday’s 4A state meet. The senior did so after starting smack-dab in the middle of the humongous pack at the start of the soft and hilly course.

Summit runner Grace Staberg and Tigers coach Heather Quarantillo reflect on the senior’s strong 19th place of 152 runners at the state championship in Colorado Springs to round out her Tiger cross-country career.

Posted by Summit Daily News on Saturday, October 26, 2019

Nineteen minutes and 28.9 seconds later, Staberg kicked as hard as she could before collapsing briefly after crossing the finish line. After recovering a moment later, Staberg was nothing but smiles as the ski mountaineering star truly gave it her all in her final race as part of the Tiger tribe.

“It was a little bit stressful,” Staberg said. “I’m not used to being fifty runners back, so the start I felt I was boxed in a bit. But after about a half mile we started to settle in and spread out a bit, and after that I felt like the race went well. I was fairly consistent and it was nice to be running with a lot of girls around me.”

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