Basalt sophomore runner ready for encore |

Basalt sophomore runner ready for encore

Jon MaletzThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado
Jordan Curet/The Aspen Times
ALL | The Aspen Times

BASALT One year. A mountains worth of accolades. Basalts Annette Stenstadvold had a freshman year like no other. First came a 2007 regional cross country title, then a fifth-place finish in the 3A state championship in Colorado Springs.That momentum carried into the spring soccer season, where she quickly emerged as one of the Longhorns and the Western Slopes most prolific forwards. For her efforts in helping the team lock up an 11th consecutive league title, Stenstadvold was an all-conference first-team selection. A late-season ankle injury proved to be the only thing that could slow Stenstadvold Basalt head soccer coach Chris Woods lamented her absence both before and after his teams opening-round loss to Classical Academy. There was consolation: Stenstadvold returned to the pitch in the All-State soccer game earlier this month in Denver.It was a lot of fun, she said Tuesday. It opened my eyes to how good the girls are out there.Stenstadvold opened a few eyes of her own, whether on the soccer field or on the trail. I worked hard for it all, but also everything fell into place, Stenstadvold said. It was the right people and the right team.And now, the encore.Longhorns cross-country coach Ron Lund sets goals for his boys and girls team, but said he shies away from setting individual objectives. He leaves that up to each runner.Dont expect Stenstadvold, an unassuming standout, to make any bold, bulletin board-worthy declarations. Aside from her motivation to break 20 minutes her previous best, 20:02, came at state dont expect her to make a prediction at all.I never like to put expectations on myself, she asserted. Ron doesnt put any pressure on us, he just wants us to do our best. I try not to think too much and treat every race like a new opportunity.Theres reason for such a simple approach. After all, Stenstadvold just started running competitively last fall. (Lund should thank Stenstadvolds older sister, Sofie, who suggested she go out for the team.) Stenstadvold has a hard time comprehending the buzz shes generating. That attention, she said, should be focused on junior Chiara Del Piccolo, the other half of what Lund calls the best one-two punch in the state. Shes definitely a crazy-talented runner, Stenstadvold said. I look up to her a lot. She just exemplifies what a runner should be She deserves everything she gets, and she pushes me a lot when were at meets. Having someone up there to push you through those last few miles is something I appreciate a lot.I know Chiara will have a good season. You can tell shes ready.Del Piccolo hit all the right notes in 2007. She took second in the 3,200 meters in Mays 3A state track championships in Pueblo, besting her regional-winning time by 40 seconds. One day later, she took sixth in the mile and set a school record.Lund calls Del Piccolo the most talented runner hes ever coached.Together, her and Stenstadvold might just be the best duo in school history.Weve had some success like this in the past, when Megan [Lund] was a junior and Ashley [Eaton] was a freshman, and they were both top 12 at state, Lund said. Success makes cross country more fun, and once youve had success, it does motivate them. Top10 [at state] is not out the question again for both of them.For all its sure things, the program has its share of lingering preseason questions.Lunds ultimate goal is to send two teams to state. On the girls side, that means finding a third runner to compliment his top two. On the boys side, however, things arent so simple.Casey Weaver and Brennan Roper matched Stenstadvolds and Del Piccolos result at last falls regional meet. Now that both have taken their talent to the college level Weaver at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and Roper at Western State College in Gunnison Basalts boys team is looking for new runners to emerge.Ropers brother, Connor, was a freshman last year when he finished 68th at state. Lund is expecting a bigger contribution this time around.Hes a year older and that makes all the difference, the coach added. Brennan didnt run until he was a junior. I dont see why Connor couldnt have similar success if he has the same work ethic.Lund also expects seniors Tyler Wilson and Andy Delany to figure prominently. Hes also excited about the potential of a freshman Del Piccolos brother, Julio. Hell probably have a [personal best] at every meet, Lund added. Its just too soon to tell how far weve come.Hell have a better idea Saturday when both teams kick off the season in Delta.

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