Battle Mountain cross country continues to shine | VailDaily.com

Battle Mountain cross country continues to shine

Ian Cropp

DELTA – The bus ride home from Delta was quiet, but for all the right reasons.After two races in three days, any cross country team would be tired. But, after Thursday’s first-place, and third-place finishes, combined with Saturday’s first-place and second-place finishes, the Battle Mountain Huskies were a little more fatigued than normal.”I was a little tired sitting in class (Friday), and now I’m really tired,” said Johnny Stevens.The girls, coming off a first-place finish in Colorado Springs, managed to equal their success at Delta by placing first. Actually, they even improved a bit.”They were just fantastic,” said coach Rob Parish. “We were without Leslie Peterson, and they still won by 41 points.”Battle Mountain girls had six of the top-20 finishers, with three in the top-10.Jen Bowles, who transferred from California, placed third overall and first for Battle Mountain, with a time of 19 minutes, 45 seconds. The other girls finished as follows: Erika Ghent, four, 19:55; Molly McGee, 10th, 20:45; Christa Ghent, 16th, 21:11; Whitney Allard, 19th, 21:36; Sammy McCoy, 20th, 21:39; and Marit Johnson, 30th, 22:28.”I was nervous about Hotchkiss (who finised second), and counting how many girls on their team were ahead of us,” said Erika Ghent. “But we are such a strong team and we know how we have to pace ourselves.”Cutting timesOnce again, the boys showed that this will not be a rebuilding year, but a contending year, by placing second.”Their times were fabulous,” Parish said. “The only team the guys didn’t beat was Grand Junction, which is a 5A school.”Stevens led the Huskies by finishing fourth overall with a time of 16:38. His time was six seconds off the school record, set by Grant Stevenson. The rest of the boys finished as such: Shea Phelan, 11th, 17:04; Ben Rogers, 13th, 17:15; Jake Ball, 20th, 17:47; Jamie Fahrmeyer, 27th, 18:09; John O’Neill, 30th, 18:16; and Ryan Walker, 33rd, 18:19.Last year at the same course, the team only had one finisher under 18 minutes. “We were comparing results from last year, and right now we are a stronger team and I think we can do ever better,” Stevens said.Parish was most impressed with Ball’s performance.”He was the hero of the day,” Parish said. “We were battling Montrose for second or third place, and Jake passed two Montrose kids in the last 50 meters to make a huge swing in the points totals. Last year he was our 7th runner or top JV running, so he’s really stepped up and filled the gap.”Crunching numbersSaturday’s race featured 10 teams, mostly 3A and 4A schools from the Western Slope that Battle Mountain will face this year.”Normally we wouldn’t race two times in three days, but we wanted to cover our bases and preview the course,” Parish said.Delta may be the regional course for this year. The course is flat, with a hard packed surface that provides high-energy returns, Parish said.”The times are faster there, so it’s hard to compare times course to course,” Parish said.Despite the results from Thursday’s race, Parish still has guarded optimism.”We broke down our scores to see how we did against the 4A and 5A teams we didn’t run against, and there are several 4A teams who would have finished ahead of us,” Parish said.The runners are happy with their performance thus far, but know there is still room to improve.”Coach is putting it into perspective so we don’t get too cocky,” Christa Ghent said. “This week will be pretty hard.”This week, the Huskies will have speed and aerobic workouts, along with mile repeats to prepare for a race in Leadville Saturday.”We will work hard, and if they are a little tired for the Leadville race, that’ll be fine,” Parish said.The harriers await the completion of their new track, which should be completed in a week. When practice moves to the track, the Huskies will continue their speed workouts.”It takes us getting on the track to get that accountability of speed,” Parish said.Sports writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 608 or via icropp@vaildaily.comVail, Colorado