Battle Mountain XC sweeps Region 1
Samantha Blair wins girls' race
Battle Mountain cross-country required the Gershwin brothers on Thursday at the Class 4A Region 1 Meet down in Grand Junction’s Lincoln Park.
The line is, “Who could ask for anything more?”
The Huskies swept the proceedings, the boys notching their first win at this meet since 2016, while the ladies nine-peated. Nico Piliero and Grace Johnson obliterated their respective school records.
Huskies coach Rob Parish might even give his teams a day off today.
“We’ll do an easy run,” Parish said.
Thanks a bunch, Coach.
For Eagle Valley, sophomore Samantha Blair kept the girls’ individual regional title in the family, winning the race. Her sister Joslin won the crown last year at regionals. Eagle Valley’s girls took fourth and punched a ticket to state.
Eagle Valley’s boys took fifth, which is one spot outside of the state cut. Junior Gage Nielsen qualified as an individual.
Huskies win No. 9
Battle Mountain’s run at regionals has been going so long that Parish wasn’t the coach when the team started the streak. Ken Long was the coach in 2011, the interregnum of the Parish reign.
The scoring five was Mandy Ortiz, Jenai Denardo, Val Constien, Sydney Gaylord and Nicole Marengo. (To his credit Parish named four of five on Thursday night). And, in 2011, the Huskies used the milesplit.com virtual meet as motivation — Durango was meant to win.
Constien went on to have a pretty good career, which included setting the school 5K record at 17 minutes, 55 seconds during the 2013 season. Johnson demolished that on Thursday with a 17:42.
“I knew at the first mile I was going pretty fast,” Johnson said. “I wasn’t sure I was going to make it. During the finishing stretch, (assistant coach Matt) Felton said, ’17:20.’ Then I knew I could get it.”
Elliot Pribramsky was rolling as well at 18:11, good for eighth.
And then came the hammer — Emma Reeder, Milaina Almonte and Lily Whelan slammed the door finishing 13th, 14tth and 15th.
As everyone on Battle Mountain’s team has adjusted to new roles, this would be a good time to say that Reeder’s had a fantastic season. While Almonte and Whelan are the freshman stars and Johnson and Pribramsky have assumed the top spots, Reeder’s just been steady.
Steady sounds boring, but steady is an art form when competitive running is such a hit-and-miss prospect. While alumnae Naomi and Lizzy Harding cemented their legacy with Battle Mountain the last few years, getting the two sisters to be at their best simultaneously was rare. Everyone forgets this after Lizzy and Naomi went 1-2 in the state 1,600 meters last spring.
Steady is a beautiful thing.
“She’s the new Alex Raichart,” Parish said of Reeder comparing her to the runner who was the glue of the 2016-17 state-championship teams.
As for nine in a row, it doesn’t get old.
“We’re fortunate to have the athletes that want to put in the work,” Parish said. “Sometimes, you can get lucky with one good crew, but nothing is guaranteed, right? They’ve just put in the time, and the bulk of that happens in the summer.”
Boys bust out
Yes, Battle Mountain also has a boys’ cross-country team. Given what the ladies have done, the gents are overlooked. Not on Thursday.
Summit County had success against the Huskies during the regular season and the Tigers were the target. Parish and the staff felt that their Nos. 4 and 5. Jake Allen and Ari Dennis, were better than their Summit counterparts.
That meant the race came down to Piliero, Deagen Fahrney, and Sullivan knocking off Summit’s top three.
They all got their guys in the final 200 meters.
“It’s awesome,” Piliero said. “This season, it’s been the team’s focus, the goal to win ever since the start of the year. It was everybody doing their job in the race. We all got it done.”
Yes, that’s straight out of New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick’s book, which Parish has appropriated. ‘Do your job’ is a common refrain come postseason.
As for Piliero, knocking off Alexis Aguirre’s mark of 15:54, set in 2015, was the goal for regionals.
“It’s been a matter of sticking to the training plan,” Piliero said. “The results would come. I didn’t think I’d break it by that much.”
He did. Piliero posted a 15:39, 15 seconds faster than Aguirre.
Blair (Samantha) wins crown
It’s a Blair thing. As a junior, Joslin Blair won the Region 1 individual title last fall in EagleVail. Thursday. Samantha ran away from the pack to win the title.
Younger Blair clipped Battle Mountain’s Johnson by a full 13 seconds with a 17:29. Joslin Blair was fourth in 17:55.
The bigger surprise was that Eagle Valley’s ladies qualified as a team.
“I did not think I would win,” Samantha said. “I just went out there and ran. It’s super exciting to go to state as a team. We’re all really happy.”
Eagle Valley’s been running cross-country for 12 years and only three times have the girls made it to Colorado Springs as a squad during that time, including the last two falls in a row.
Eagle Valley’s boys exceeded the pre-meet milesplit.com projection of a seventh-place finish. They finished fifth, which is the heartbreak spot, as the top four teams make state.
That said, Nielsen finished 14th, qualifying as an individual. Dillon Flaagan and Samantha Blair were the team’s Hoss Award winners.
The state meet is Oct. 26 at the Norris-Penrose Event Center in Colorado Springs.
Region 1 Results
- Samantha Blair, Eagle Valley, 17:29
2. Grace Johnson, Battle Mountain 17:42
4. Joslin Blair, Eagle Valley, 17:55
8. Elliot Pribramsky, Battle Mountain, 18:11
13. Emma Reeder, Battle Mountain, 18:34
14. Milaina Almonte, Battle Mountain, 18:37
15. Lily Whelan, Battle Mountain, 18:40
30. Tatum Cole, Eagle Valley, 19:49.19
38. Jordan Neifert, Eagle Valley, 20:01
43. Samantha Boeke, Eagle Valley, 20:15
5. Nico Piliero, Battle Mountain, 15:39
9. Deagen Fahrney, Battle Mountain 15:56
12. Sullivan Middaugh, Battle Mountain, 16:09
14. Gage Nielsen, Eagle Valley, 16:14
17. Jake Allen, Battle Mountain, 16:30
20. Dillon Flaagan, Eagle Valley, 16:39
23. Ari Dennis, Battle Mountain, 16:42
34. Jake Drever, Eagle Valley, 16:57
38. Lukas Bergsten, Eagle Valley, 17:06
43. Johan Payan, Eagle Valley,17:15
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