Middaugh takes regional crown as Battle Mountain, Eagle Valley harriers qualify for state
Both teams will compete Oct. 30 in Colorado Springs
After finishing in second place in their Class 4A region in 2020, the Battle Mountain boys cross-country team is back on top.
“This guys group — we’ve had a lot of great guys groups, but this group is one of the best ever, in all facets,” said Battle Mountain head coach Rob Parish. “From a results standpoint, from a training standpoint, from an execution standpoint and from a gamesmanship standpoint, they are phenomenal.”
The Huskies boys will have a chance to cement their legacy next week in Colorado Springs, after having punched their tickets to the state cross-country meet after a convincing victory Saturday at the 4A Region 1 meet in Evergreen.
After a strategic first half-mile, Sullivan Middaugh and Bryce Reeburgh gapped a lead pack of 10 runners. Middaugh would increase his lead halfway in, and by the final mile, with a win secured, eased up. His 3-second victory was not completely indicative of his command of the new course, a three-lap, turn-filled, rolling mix of grass and gravel all situated around 8,000 feet. Not particularly fast conditions, to be sure. Behind him, other battles would take shape, with a couple of Huskies heroes either earning their dues or emerging anew.
While younger brother Porter Middaugh finished just short of creating a 1-2 Middaugh podium, it was sophomore Will Brunner, fifth place and 23 seconds off his teammate, who made the impactful jump Friday afternoon. “He has been running with the Middaughs in distance and speed days all year,” said Parish. “Today, he put it all together.”
The breakout performance came from Jorge Sinoloa, whose seventh-place finish gained all-region honors as well. The race master Sinaloa and breakthrough runner Brunner together “hit it out of the park,” according to the head coach.
The team chase wasn’t in hand, however, without a gutsy run by the Huskies fifth runner, senior Kaden Williams. Sitting back after 2 miles, Williams wound up with a top-25 finish after chasing down and passing Grand Junction Central’s (the biggest prerace threat to dethroning Battle Mountain) fifth man in the closing kilometer.
Parish lauded his leadership, “He ran a heroic last mile.”
Watching the savvy mix of youngsters and veterans peaking at the right time has been rewarding.
“They do it the right way,” Parish said about his talented squad. “They really work hard. They’re more concerned about team success than their individual place. The success they’ve achieved, especially today, is a product of their work and how they go about their business.”
They’ll have their hands full at Penrose next week. The two teams ranked ahead of them in the overall 4A rankings, Niwot and Cheyenne Mountain, are also ranked in the top five nationally. “We have these ‘Goliaths,’ but we’re going to go for it next week,” Parish said.
After coming up just short last year, the Eagle Valley boys will be joining them after finishing in third overall in the team scoring. Junior Jake Drever continued his phenomenal year with an eighth-place finish. Cooper Filmore was not far behind, finishing 18th overall in a time of 17:28.
“Our 2, 3, 4 pack of have been our sweet spot this year,” coach Melinda Brandt said after the race.
The spread between their first and fifth runner was 1 minute, 28 sesconds, only four seconds wider than Battle Mountain. In a pressure-packed competition for the coveted top four, the Demons were clutch, finishing just 11 points ahead of the fifth-place Summit squad. Charlie Schafer was a big reason. He has shown dedication to cross-training through an injury-riddled campaign, and came through.
“That was really a highlight today,” Brandt said. “They really put the pieces together and have been having a really strong year, coming together right at the end.”
Smith’s inspirational run sparks Battle Mountain girl’s
This summer, Parish figured the 2021 cross-country season would have little to do with winning.
“Early in the summer, we thought this season would just be about healing and supporting each other,” Parish said. The foreign start is winding into a familiar finish. On Friday, the Huskyies were 4A champs for their region for an 11th consecutive time.
“They have sustained this terrible tragedy and come back to have a competitive team,” Parish said. “So for them to do what they did today was tremendous. Just absolutely tremendous.”
After a tragic car accident impacted two of their top runners, Battle Mountain’s team faced barriers rarely seen at the scholastic level. The finest demonstration of resilience came from the person perhaps impacted more than anyone from the devastating summer event, Presley Smith.
With a group of five competitors bearing down on her in the closing stretch, Smith held off every single one, finishing all-region after returning to running six weeks ago. “Presley was just tremendous today. To run, and be on the team, and to be 14th; that was unexpected,” Parish said over the phone after the race.
Led by junior Milaina Almonte (fifth) and sophomores Lindsey Whitton (sixth) and Lindsey Kiehl (10th), Battle Mountain demonstrated that their youthful, promising core isn’t giving up on the 2021 season.
On the individual side, Eagle Valley’s legendary Samantha Blair, who committed to NCAA perennial power Northern Arizona on Thursday and has finished in the top 10 at state three consecutive years, led for the first half of the race before a strong takeover from Ella Johnson of Glenwood Springs. With all of the top five runners having legitimate all-state aspirations, the showing was nothing to be ashamed of for the decorated Devil’s star.
“She definitely has eyes on next week,” Brandt said afterwards. “We have big goals for next week for sure.”
As a team, Eagle Valley went in ranked eighth, but finished in sixth and were a mere 15 points from making it to state as a team.
“The girls really outperformed their ranking; they worked really hard,” Brandt said. “We were battling some injuries there at the end of the year. I’m really happy the girls gritted through and got some experience for the future.”
The state cross-country championships are Oct. 30 at the Norris Penrose Event Center in Colorado Springs.
Top 15 – State qualifiers
Sullivan Middaugh, Battle Mountain – 16:24.6
Bryce Reeburgh, Golden High School – 16:27.4
Porter Middaugh, Battle Mountain – 16:27.7
Dominykas Remeikis, Summit – 16:46.4
Will Brunner, Battle Mountain – 16:50.8
Patrick Doty, Conifer High School – 16:51.7
Jorge Sinoloa, Battle Mountain – 16:59.6
Jake Drever, Eagle Valley High School – 17:00.3
Jackson Edwards, Central Grand Junction – 17:07.4
Tyler Stogsdill, Central Grand Junction, 17:11.4
Henry Stubenrauch, Golden High School, 17:12.5
Bowden Tumminello, Steamboat Springs, 17:13.3
Jacob Sushinsky, Mullen High School – 17:14.5
Jordan Leblow, Central Grand Junction – 17:15.2
Jack Tolbert, Mullen High School – 17:15.3
Teams (top 4 advance to state)
Battle Mountain High School – 41
Central Grand Junction – 78
Eagle Valley High School – 105
Mullen High School – 110
Summit High School – 116
Conifer High School – 134
Golden High School – 170
Steamboat Springs High School – 216
Green Mountain High School – 231
Grand Junction High School – 241
Glenwood Springs – 325
Evergreen High School – 334
Ella Johnson, Glenwood Springs – 18:41.8
Tristian Spence, Central Grand Junction – 18:54.1
Samantha Blair, Eagle Valley High School – 18:55.7
Ella Hagen, Summit High school – 19:17.2
Milaina Almonte, Battle Mountain – 19:29.9
Lindsey Whitton, Battle Mountain – 19:48.3
Sophia Connerton-Nevin, Glenwood Springs – 20:03.8
Amy O’Connell, Mullen High School – 20:06.1
Elisa Brear, Mullen High School – 20:13.2
Lindsey Kiehl, Battle Mountain – 20:30.4
Lily Mourer, Golden High – 20:43.4
Kira Van Der Steen, Mullen High – 20:44.5
Audre Van Westrienen, Conifer High – 20:45.6
Presley Smith, Battle Mountain – 20:52.5
Julia Brown, Mullen High – 20:53.4
Girls Team Scores
Battle Mountain – 56
Mullen High – 75
Golden High – 106
Glenwood Springs High – 131
Green Mountain High – 135
Eagle Valley High – 146
Summit High – 163
Steamboat Springs – 179
Central Grand Junction High – 244
Evergreen High – 273
Conifer High – 275
Palisade High – 324
Grand Junction High – 344