EDWARDS — Yeah, it’s still preseason. Yeah, the actual races haven’t begun.
But for Battle Mountain cross country, the real work is already done.
That’s kind of strange, but then the world of cross-country running is kind of strange to the outsider. This is a sport where “going into the hurt box” is a good thing. (We’ll explain later.)
“We’ve been talking to the kids about how they’re halfway home,” Huskies cross country coach and general Battle Mountain minister of all things running Rob Parish said. “The majority of this core group has been working hard for three years.”
As cliche as it is, “Champions are built in the summer (and spring and winter, etc.)” in cross-country. The heavy running is already done, though Parish is good for a few corker-type workouts throughout the season.
And that is why Battle Mountain’s boys and girls harriers look formidable in 2013. The ladies are the two-time defending Slope regional champions and have finished fourth in the last two state meets down in Colorado Springs. The gents, as a team, returned to the state meet last fall after a one-year absence, and both squads have ample veterans.
For the guys, missing state in 2011 was a blemish, and an important reminder of the history of this program. While boys soccer understandably grabbed the headlines with its magical season of 20-0 and a state title last year, Battle Mountain cross-country actually has a richer tradition when it comes to state banners. The girls wore the crown in 2005, while the boys went back-to-back in 2006 and 2007. Fair or not, the 2005 ladies the 2007 boys are the standards by which everything is measured in Battle Mountain cross-country.
“The guys really rededicated themselves over the summer,” Parish said. “They want to bring the team back where it was a few years go. They’ve taken it as a mission to restore our team.”
Ethan Cotton, Cameron Moore, Josh Braun, Ricardo Arreola, Ethan Pence and Jake Burrell are returners from last year’s squad. That’s six veterans in a sport where five runners score. Toss in some newcomers like Koby Simonton, Douglas McMurrain, Daniel Ortiz (no relation to the graduated Ortizes, Amelia and Mandy) and Julio Garcia and there is the making of some serious intra-squad competition, always a good thing, for varsity spots as the regular season starts with the pre-state meet at Cheyenne Mountain on Thursday.
The girls seem equally loaded with veteran runners Val Constien, Sydney Gaylord, Bridgett Courtois, Christina Shearon, Rychelle Denardo and Annabel Johnson. Hannah Gaylord, Lilly McMurrain and Morgan Croke have turned heads in camp. The Huskies also welcome back Katie Matarese from hip surgery.
“The girls look very strong with Val and Syd up front as a 1-2 punch,” Parish said. “There’s going to be a pretty good competition to round out the top seven (for varsity spots), and I welcome that. You never really know, though. A lot of kids are new to racing at the top level. Only time will tell if they’re willing to go into the hurt box in races. Being fit and talented are important. The third component is the how much runners are willing to suffer and push themselves.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or via firstname.lastname@example.org.