Tiger harriers head to state with big goals | SummitDaily.com

Tiger harriers head to state with big goals

Summit Daily/Reid Williams Led by Whitney Anderson (left), the favorite to win the 4A state title, the Summit High School lady harriers travel to Colorado Springs for the state meet Saturday at noon. This year is the first time Summit has had a team qualify for state, and they look to be a good bet to finish in the top 10.

FARMER’S KORNER – They’ve already made history, and now they’re hungry for more.After becoming the first Summit High School cross country squad ever to qualify for the state meet, the Tiger girls are focused on making the trip count at Saturday’s 4A race in Colorado Springs.SHS coach Heather Quarantillo said she thinks making the top 10 in the 21-school team standings is a “conservative” goal, and that the girls would likely do so just by matching their times from last weekend’s regional race. Six of the seven Summit girls ran personal best times in that race, at 5,100 feet on an ultrafast, pancake-flat course in Delta. Quarantillo thinks they still can run faster.Barring unforeseen circumstances, the team’s score likely will be led by a state-championship performance by senior Whitney Anderson. The transfer from Alaska won the regional meet by a minute and a half in Delta, with, unofficially, the second-fastest time in the country by a high school girl this year – 16 minutes, 56 seconds.

Anderson is the overwhelming favorite to win the state title Saturday at the Vineyard Golf Club in Colorado Springs – a course Quarantillo calls every bit as fast as the regional route.Still, Anderson isn’t focused solely on winning the race. In fact, should she somehow lose, she said she wouldn’t be disappointed.”I definitely want to race my own individual race, but also feel like there’s someone right behind me to push me,” said Anderson, who won the 3A Alaska state title last fall and then swept the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs at the Colorado 4A track championships last spring.After Anderson, freshman Briana Perkins and junior Brittany Perkins – Briana’s older sister – should provide Summit with valuable, top-of-the-heap scorers.And Briana Perkins could be the meet’s surprise story if she keeps improving at the rate she has been. A first-year competitive runner, Perkins started the year with a 5K time of 21:41. Last weekend, she ran the Delta course in 18:26 and took second to Anderson, a result few expected. Her regional time, according to the Denver Post’s unofficial statistics, made her the second-fastest female in 4A this fall.

At Saturday’s state meet, Perkins said she’ll be happy if she beats her personal best, nothing more.Still, Quarantillo told her she can be in the top five with a good race, and out of Perkins’ earshot, the coach said she thinks her freshman phenom could even be second to Anderson because she finishes stronger than most.Perkins knows how much of an advantage it is to have the state favorite on her team.”A lot of girls in that (lead) pack don’t know how fast she is, so they try and chase her,” Perkins said of Anderson, with whom she also shares a breakfast menu of oatmeal and bananas. “That pushes me, because if they set a quicker pace for the pack, all I have to do is try and stay with them.”

Joining the three SHS leaders will be junior Jordan Cooper and three freshmen: Jenya Berino, Mackenzie Jones and Mallory Clark. Morgan Major, yet another freshman, is the alternate.Regardless of how the individual results stack up, most on the Tigers team maintain the season has already been a storybook success. This includes Cooper, the longest tenured of the Tigers with three years under her belt.”I came into this season wanting us to go to states (as a team). I didn’t have an individual goal, that was my main goal,” she said. “It’s pretty cool that we did it.”Devon O’Neil can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 231, or at doneil@summitdaily.com.

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