Battle Mountain Huskies cross-country repeats in dominant fashion | VailDaily.com

Battle Mountain Huskies cross-country repeats in dominant fashion

COLORADO SPRINGS — Thanks for coming. Drive home safely, Colorado.

Battle Mountain girls cross-country repeated as 4A state champions in emphatic fashion on Saturday, Oct. 28, in Colorado Springs.

The Huskies pretty much tattooed the state, putting down just 59 points. Second-place Palmer Ridge was distant speck in the rear-view mirror with 157 points.

"It's the experience of a lifetime," Huskies senior Elizabeth Constien said. "I am so glad to have this great group of girls. Everyone works so hard."

For a little perspective of the dominance on display on Saturday, Battle Mountain won the 2016 title with 98 points, 32 points in front of Air Academy.

Ironically, in 2015, the Huskies were lower in the points at 77 than the 2016 team, but finished second to Air Academy (60).

Recommended Stories For You

Fifty-nine points is the new record for lowest score in the history of the ladies 4A state meet, according milesplit.com. Battle Mountain beat Palmer Ridge by 98 points, and 98 points separated the former, the second place team, and the ninth-place team, Centaurus.

"They pushed all their chips into the middle of the table," said Huskies coach Rob Parish, who heads up the squad along with Matt Felton, Josh Wright, Erin Park and Eddie Farrell.

"They went for it. This group is so strong, this year and last. They rise to the occasion. They are competitors. They love competition and live for these moments."

And, oh, by the way, the Huskies' Constien is the individual state champion, a first for a storied Battle Mountain program — boys or girls, — by winning the race in 18 minutes, 3 seconds.

And the history wasn't limited to the Huskies. Eagle Valley's boys finished 11th. This is officially the best team in program history with the result. Meanwhile, the Devils Joslin Blair finished seventh as an individual, making the podium as a sophomore.

Constien's a champ

In one of many gratifying moments for the Huskies, Constien nabbed the school's first individual cross-country title. Constien and Naomi Harding went 2-3 at last year's meet. Jonny Stevens remains the highest finisher for the guys in fourth back in 2007.

This is all the more remarkable given that Elizabeth was following in the considerable footsteps of her older sister, Val, who was there to cheer her on at the Norris-Penrose Events Center on Saturday.

Let's make this clear, Elizabeth Constien has officially carved out her own place in Huskies running history and is right up there with Val Constien. Liz has quite her own resume with two team titles, an individual title in cross-country and a state gold in last spring's 3,200-meter relay.

"She's never tried to be Val," Parish said. "Liz is a completely different athlete and personality. To her own credit, she's forged her own road."

Constien didn't think she was going to win a state title on Saturday. She drafted off Palmer Ridge's Isabella Prosceno for the first mile. After the second mile, the opportunity presented itself.

"I went into the week thinking it was possible, but I pretty much wanted to get into the top five. Once the competition started falling off, I thought, 'Hey, maybe, I can go win a state title.'"

With 1,200 meters to go, Constien took the lead and never looked back.

More sisters

Lizzy Harding had a score to settle on Saturday. She was sick as a dog last year at state, gave it her best effort, running very well before collapsing in a heap, not finishing.

And 200 meters into Saturday's race, she got tripped up and fell, and everyone was thinking, "Oh, no." Everyone, except Harding.

"At that point, there are so many girls and so much adrenaline, it's not a huge deal," she said. "I got up super-quick and got back with (teammate) Alex (Raichart)."

Harding had a new plan for this race. Parish wanted to hold her back a little bit during the early stage of the race. This goes against every fiber of Harding's competitive being.

But it worked. Harding, despite her tumble, stayed just off the front pack of leaders in roughly 15th place for the first two miles, and then turned on the jets.

"She hit it out of the park," Parish said.

Harding ended up finishing seventh for a triumphant return to state.

"It's absolutely amazing," Harding said. "It was so exciting to redeem myself."

Raichart was Battle Mountain's third in 11th place, and she was also in the middle of a Harding sandwich because Naomi Harding, the individual regional champion, was in 16th.

Grace Johnson was Battle Mountain's fifth runner. Last year, that was a shocking, but true statement because Lizzie Harding had gone down. This year, Johnson, just a sophomore, is no surprise in that position because she regularly puts up points for Battle Mountain.

Brogan Murray (34th) and Megan Bamford (43rd) did not score for the Huskies. The two would have scored for the other 24 full 4A teams at the meet.

"The heroes are our (Nos.) 4-5 runners. They were the ones doing a great job," Constien said, the team's No. 1. "If I ran 30 seconds slower, I'm still in the top 10, and it wouldn't make a difference. If you're in the middle of the pack and are 30 seconds slower, that 50-60 places. It's really all up to the (Nos.) 4-5. Naomi and Grace and everyone did beautifully."

And that is a perfect summation of how and why the Huskies are the best in the state of Colorado.

Blair, boys shine for Eagle Valley

If this were a basketball game, then Eagle Valley's student body would be chanting, "She's a sophomore."

Yes, Joslin Blair is a sophomore, and she's on the 4A state cross-country podium, taking seventh as an individual with a time of 18:47. She rewrote her own school record for highest finish at a state meet, which was 14th last fall.

What's more is that Blair was running without her team, which, unfortunately, did not qualify last week at regionals in Frisco.

"She has matured a lot in her running," Devils coach Melinda Brandt said. "There are so many good girls runners in 4A that the top 10 doesn't have room for them."

There is a spot for Blair. She, like some of her Battle Mountain counterparts, had an initially conservative strategy to Saturday's first mile. The she started reeling her competitors in.

The best finish by an Eagle Valley team previously was the boys finishing 15th. This year's group of gents took 11th. They are the best team Eagle Valley history, thank you very much.

And this race was staggeringly fast. The leaders took out the first mile in 5:10. When it's a 3.1-mile race, that's quite the pace. Nonetheless, Aiden Branch capped a storied Devils career with a top 30 finish. Jack Neifert, also a senior, should take a bow.

And, give it up for John Papadopoulos. He set a personal best at the state meet, surging to be the Devils' third runner on Saturday.

Just a note, by the way, Eagle Valley's boys return five of their seven scorers for next season.

Class 4A state meet

Girls

Team results

1. Battle Mountain 59; 2. Palmer Ridge 157; 3. Durango 168; 4. Air Academy 185; 5. Valor Christian 200.

Individual results

(Please note: Places are for purposes of team scoring with the exception of Joslin Blair)

1.Elizabeth” target=”_blank”>Text”>1.Elizabeth Constien, BM, 18:03

… 7th overall. Joslin Blair, EV, 18:47

7. Lizzy Harding, BM, 18:52

11. Alex Raichart, BM, 19:06

16. Naomi Harding, BM, 19:14

24. Grace Johnson, BM, 19:24

34. Brogan Murray, BM, 19:39

43. Megan Bamford, BM, 19:57

Boys

Team results

1. Palmer Ridge 77; 2. Centaurus 100; 3. Silver Creek 103; 4. Niwot 141; 5. Air Academy 173 … 11. Eagle Valley 299.

Individual results

(Please note: Places are for purposes of team scoring with the exception of David Reilly.)

29. Aiden Branch, EV, 16:44

42. Jack Neifert, EV, 16:55

70. John Papadopoulos, EV, 17:29

82nd overall … David Reilly, BM, 17:29 (tenths)

75. Carter Baker, EV, 17:33

83. Bailey Beckum, EV, 17:40

90. Emerson Betz, EV, 17:46

126. Luke Morrissey, EV, 18:26