Battle Mountain XC makes it rain at St. Vrain | VailDaily.com

Battle Mountain XC makes it rain at St. Vrain

Johnson, Pribramsky shine for Huskies

From right, Battle Mountain's Grace Johnson, Elliot Pribramsky and Emma Reeder take it out at the St. Vrain Invitational on Saturday in Lyons. The trio led the the Huskies to a second-place finish.
Mark Pribramsky | Special to the Daily

Reports of Battle Mountain cross-country’s demise may have been premature.

In what was probably the first real peek at Huskies cross-country 2019, they’re still darn good. Battle Mountain finished second at Saturday’s St. Vrain Invitational out in Lyons.

Grace Johnson topped all competitors in 4A/5A field with a time of 19 minutes, 7 seconds. Elliot Pribramsky finished third in 19:24.

Unfortunately, Niwot’s Taylor James was fourth — running fans may remember her from such episodes as winning four gold medals at the state track meet last spring — and her teammates finished sixth through ninth, giving the Cougars the win.

This did not take away from the satisfaction of the day.

What they learned

• Battle Mountain has an ace. Johnson hadn’t run a varsity race since the Cheyenne Mountain Stampede in August, which Johnson won. Now, she’s 2-for-2.

“We knew Grace was good,” Parish said. “We didn’t know she was the queen of the race. After 1 mile, she was in a group of five to seven. At 1.5, she was in a group of two. At 2 miles, she was in a group of one.”

We insert the standard Blair sisters disclaimer here. Eagle Valley’s Joslin and Samantha were off this week and are likely running down in Arizona next weekend at the Nike Desert Twilight Festival, while the Huskies will be in Grand Junction.

Nonetheless, Parish was positively bubbly about Johnson.

• The Huskies have a No. 1 and 1a. Pribramsky wasn’t exactly chopped liver on Saturday. She’s getting more comfortable being an elite runner in her own right. Again, there is a big difference in being somewhere among the Nos. 3-5 runners for the team and being on the podium.

“That was a major move for her,” Parish said.

• The pipeline is still intact. With major graduation losses — most notably the Hardings (Naomi and Lizzy), the team’s depth was in question. The kids are stepping up.

Junior Emma Reeder was 17th; freshman Milaina Almonte took 27th and senior Samantha Lindall stepped into 28th.

By rule, Battle Mountain doesn’t start its freshmen for the first two varsity races, so Johnson, Pribramsky and Reeder hadn’t run with the first-years yet this season. Parish was quite happy with the kiddos in Almonte and Lily Wheelan (seventh for the Huskies) in their first real big-race experience.

St. Vrain also allows teams to run 10 in the varsity race, so Battle Mountain got a good look at its depth including the Hayleys — Brewster and Diemar. The competition is on for spots in the varsity seven as the season progresses.

Battle Mountain’s Sullivan Middaugh is one of five Huskies boys to run faster than 18 minutes on Saturday at the St. Vrain Invitational.
Mark Pribramsky | Special to the Daily

• The boys are good, too. All of Battle Mountain’s scoring runners were in the 17-minute range. That’s particularly noteworthy because this year’s course in Lyons seemed longer than in past years.

For the uninitiated, cross-country-teams keep meticulous records for times at courses. Parish probably still has Ben Rogers’ time in the first Battle Mountain Invitational back in the early 2000s. All these times are kept to log progress from year to year and week to week. Battle Mountain’s been running at St. Vrain for years.

The net result is the Huskies were fast on a slow course.

The boys finished sixth in a combined 4A/5A field. Among 4A squads, the boys were third behind Niwot and Palmer Ridge.