Battle Mountain harriers dominate meet | VailDaily.com

Battle Mountain harriers dominate meet

Ian Cropp

COLORADO SPRINGS – The good news came before the race.In today’s Rocky Mountain News, the girls team was ranked No. 4 in 4A.”The team has never been ranked before,” said head coach Rob Parish. “The coaches and athletes are thrilled. It’s a testament to the kids who have put in the miles.”If the ranking wasn’t testament enough, the race results sure helped.The girls finished first and the guys finished third out of a field of 34 teams at Harrison High School in Colorado Springs.”It’s a fantastic start to the season,” Parish said. “The girls definitely won on the strength of their team effort. They had several strong finishes, but nobody in the top 10.”Erika Ghent was the top finisher for the lady harriers, coming in 12th overall with a time of 21 minutes, 20 seconds. The rest of the team finished as follows: Leslie Peterson, 16th, 21:40; Molly McGee, 20th, 21:47; Jennifer Bowles, 21st, 21:48; Christa Ghent, 41st, 22:36; Whitney Allard, 53rd, 23:07; McKenzie Stevens, 76th, 23:35.”I think that we knew that we could do that,” said Erika Ghent. Ghent, Peterson, and Bowles ran most of the race together, and McGee used a fast final mile-and-a-half to close the gap, Parish said. No ranking, no problem”The guys were probably more a pleasant surprise,” Parish said. “We took a big hit last year losing several of our top-seven runners”Johnny Stevens, fresh off an injury, placed first for the boys, and sixth overall, with a time of 17:47.”He was out for 10 days, and just came back Monday,” said Parish. “He’s in great shape.”The next six finished as such: Shea Phelan, 23rd, 18:22; Ben Rogers 29th, 18:35; Jake Ball, 38th, 19:00; Jamie Farmeyer 53rd, 19:25; John O’Neill, 60th, 19:33; and Ryan Walker 84th, 20:07.”They did a great job of each running their own races,” Parish said “None of them tried to get out over their heads and they did a great job of pacing themselves.”This year’s squad features a number of newcomers to the varsity squad, and cross country altogether. Phelan and Farmeyer competed in their first cross country races ever.”I always expected it would be a lot smoother and slower, but it was amazing to see the speed out there of the guys,” said Phelan, who runs the 400 meter, the 800, the 3200 relay and the mile in track.Big and smallDue to the setup of the race, Battle Mountain did not face all of the 4A opponents who were at Colorado Springs. Battle Mountain, along with smaller 4A teams, raced with some 3A schools, while the lager 4A schools raced with 5A schools.”We are always happy when we win, but it wasn’t a 100 percent portrayal of how we will fare against 4A schools,” Parish said.Erika Ghent said the race shows how much the team has improved over the years, but she knows there is plenty of still competition ahead.”We were kind of disappointed that we didn’t get to run against Moffat and Mullen because we race against them in states and regionals,” Ghent said. The team hopes to return to the same course later this year for state.Pacing for the long raceParish is happy with the performance, but knows not to get complacent.”The teams ahead of them in the poll were not there, so they know they have their work cut out of them,” Parish said. “They have two months of hard work ahead of them. They can’t relax, and they aren’t going to be content with their performance (Thursday).”With the preseason training out of the way, Parish is ready to switch the training.”We haven’t done any speed work yet, so the next couple weeks, we’ll transition into speed work,” Parish said. “The hope is that with the strong foundation their peak will be even higher. We want to keep the kids healthy.”Phelan feels good about the training.”We definitely have built our core and mine is better than it has been before,” Phelan said.Parish hopes to prevent injuries by using pool time one a week, and running on grass when possible.Saturday the team will be in Delta.”It will give us a good look at other schools we’ll face in the Western Slope,” Parish said.Sports writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 608 or via icropp@vaildaily.comVail, Colorado