Friday night strides: Under the lights in Grand Junction, Summit boys cross country runs best meet ever
A week after Summit High School’s Homecoming at Tiger Stadium, it was a different kind of Friday night lights for the Tigers athletics program on Friday night.
In Grand Junction, the Summit High boys cross country team ran to the program’s best meet in history, with 12 athletes achieving personal-best times. To boot, the twilight race was unprecedented for the Summit program, as the golf course trails were a relative-first opportunity for Tigers runners.
During the races at the Warrior Classic Invitational, hosted by Grand Junction’s Central High School, the Tigers finished as runner-up to meet hosts Central, the No. 1 ranked boys team in Summit’s 4A Region 1. Summit was powered to that finish by its top three runners crossing the finish line in the 16-minute range. It’s a program first which earned Max Bonenberger, Jeremiah Vaille and Sam Burke all top-15 individual plaques for their race performances.
The junior Bonenberger led the way for the Tigers to provide a new personal height along a breakout season. Bonenberger finished in fourth place with a time of 16 minutes and 26 seconds on the 5,000-meter course, 63 seconds off the winning pace of 15 minutes and 23 seconds by Central senior David Cardenas.
Bonenberger was joined in the top 10 by his fellow Tiger junior Jeremiah Vaille, who crossed the finish line in eighth place and a time of 16:41.80.
Summit sophomore Sam Burke was next up, finishing his 5,000 meters in 16:57.40, good enough for 13th place in the 97-runner race. The Tigers saw three more runners finish in the top 25, including impressive showings from junior Sam Wescott (18th, 17:32), senior Chris Rohlf (19th, 17:39.10) and junior Filippo Nardella (23rd, 17:55.80).
The overall team showing earned the Tigers program its first trophy in long memory, said head coach Heather Quarantillo.
“The team was absolutely on fire,” Quarantillo said, “and had a one minute, 13 second pack-time between our first scorer Max and fifth scorer Chris. … The boys were absolutely on fire and are so pleased that the results of the whole season of training and racing are coming together.”
Racing under sunny skies earlier in the evening, the Tigers girls team also had one of their best meets of the season, finishing in fifth place of eight teams. Summit junior Grace Staberg again paced the Tigers, running to a 13th-place finish in the 81-runner race with a time of 20:38.70. The time was an exclamation point on recent high-level standards for Staberg, as this was her third consecutive race posting top personal times in a window within six seconds of each other.
“Her consistency shows her strength,” Quarantillo said, “especially considering that she had been pretty sick this week with a head cold.”
Staberg’s top-15 finish earned her an individual award plaque, but the Tigers girls team also posted two more season-best individual times, three overall personal-best times, and four second-fastest times of the season. Summit was also led in the race’s top-25 finishers by senior captain Morrison Donovan (20th, 21:14.80) and junior Alice Wescott (22nd, 21:31.30).
Summit will run next in Northglenn on Friday at the 49-team Pat Amato Invitational, which will be the team’s largest race since the start of the season.
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