SHS cross country athletes fresh-faced and ready to run |

SHS cross country athletes fresh-faced and ready to run

SUMMIT COUNTY – The accessories are few for cross country athletes, but that didn’t stop several Summit High School students from making running their sport of choice this season.

The SHS cross country team has many fresh faces for 2002, including that of its new head coach, Heather Quarantillo, who has taken the reins of the team with a long competition history of her own.

“I was a high school cross country and track competitor, and I ran in college,” said Quarantillo, who attended Portland State University and grew up in Georgetown. “I know a lot about coaching strategy, because I’ve had so much racing experience.”

Quarantillo is also a ski instructor at Copper Mountain, and said she will compete in the coach’s division of the high school meets this season, the first of which is 10 a.m. Saturday at Kent Denver.

“These kids are working very hard right now,” she said. “They’re very dedicated to what they’re doing. It’s definitely going to come back to them.”

Sandy Padjen will be the team’s assistant coach, and Charles Willis, the only senior on the team, will be a captain.

“Like my first year, I’ll get everybody to know the courses and really learn some techniques,” he said. “A lot of people know there are some strategies to running. It’s not just, “Go out and run.’ There is some technique to it. So, I’ll help getting everybody used to running in high school. For kids who haven’t been doing much over the summer, these first few weeks are going to be hard. During my first two years (on the SHS cross country team), one of the biggest parts of it was learning what to do and when on the courses.”

Willis’ finish times at last year’s cross country meets were the fastest of his career, and he said his goal this year is to match and exceed those times and eventually make it to state.

Of the 18 SHS students on the cross country team this season, seven are freshmen. Although a couple of them might not be used to jumping into hour-and-a-half long practices five days a week before school begins (Tuesday), a couple of the new students already have a few races under their belts.

“I’ve run track since sixth grade, and I’d run with my parents before then,” said freshman Jen O’Neil, who aspires to one day run marathons like her parents. “But, I’ve never done cross country. I’ve done a couple 5K races, and a couple mile (races).”

All of the SHS cross country meets will involve only 5K courses. O’Neil said she would like to finish one in under 25 minutes, and other teammates hope to finish at the front of the pack.

“I want to finish in the top 10,” said freshman John Walsh. “I also want to get in shape for hockey.”

Many SHS runners joined the cross country team to train for other sports.

“I play basketball in the winter,” Willis said. “It keeps you in shape, but basketball is definitely a different set of muscles that you use. I notice that the first week of basketball. This (cross country) allows me to run the whole practice, but I’m not always the fastest. This is a little more endurance. It keeps me off the couch.”

Shauna Farnell can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 236, or at

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