Huskies, Devils runners dot all-state squads | VailDaily.com

Huskies, Devils runners dot all-state squads

There's fantasy football, but have we considered fantasy-running leagues?

For those in Eagle County, draft-day advice would be pretty simple — go local.

Milesplit.com's all-state team, determined by a vote of coaches, includes Battle Mountain's Liz Constien and Naomi Harding as first teamers with Eagle Valley's Joslin Blair as an honorable mention.

CHSAA's all-state teams also have familiar faces with Constien and Harding on the first team, Blair on the second team and the Devils' Avery Doan as an honorable mention. Battle Mountain Alexis Aguirre also made honorable mention for CHSAA.

You can see how this fantasy running team is shaping up, particularly on the girls' side.

And if you need a coach, well, CHSAA's Coach of the Year in cross-country is Rob Parish.

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"I think this valley is a mecca for world-class athletes," Devils coach Melinda Brandt said. "I think it leads to an active lifestyle. I think it's cool the number active kids we have. Battle Mountain (cross-country) has great numbers. We finished with 64 kids in our program. To have so many kids interested in cross-country is a testament to the programs we have and lifestyles we live."

Young talent

The really scary thing is that all the award-winning runners, except for Aguirre, are not seniors. Constien is the "old" one in the bunch as a junior. Scary days are ahead for the rest of the state when it comes to facing the Huskies and Devils, be it in track or cross-country.

"I think it's cool to be recognized," Constien said.

Constien and Harding went 2-3 at the state meet with times of 18 minutes, 59 seconds. Constien edged Harding by 1-tenth of a second.

Constien is quickly making her own legend for herself, no longer known as "Val Constien's younger sister." Val and Liz are close, but the expectations for the latter are tough.

Meanwhile, Harding came back from a biking accident a week before the Cheyenne Mountain Stampede, the first race of the season. She only raced in a few regular season meets in October before turning on the jets during the postseason.

"I'm really grateful to be all-state as a sophomore," Harding said. "I wasn't anticipating that from the beginning of the season. I don't know. I just played it by ear and worked my hardest."

It is worth noting that Naomi's sister Lizzie could have been here as well, were it not for coming down with a cold and an ear infection during the days around the regional and state meets. Her valiant attempt to go at state — she fell short 400 meters or so before the finish — prevented her from winning CHSAA honors. Parish, nonetheless, said that he voted for Lizzie for milesplit.com honors for her entire season's work as one of horses for the Huskies' state-title campaign.

More rising stars

Stipulated, Battle Mountain cross-country is good. The Huskies have a big trophy testifying to that fact. But let's play a game of "what if."

Take the Huskies' Constien and both Hardings, and add Eagle Valley's Blair and Doan. Holy guacamole.

Blair burst on to the scene this fall, wining race after race during then regular season and then finishing 14th at the state meet. If she were playing volleyball and crushing a kill, this is where Devils fans would start chanting, "She's a freshman."

Doan, 18th at state, is a sophomore.

"We're ecstatic for the next few years of Eagle Valley cross-country," Brandt said. "We have a great duo and hope to continue to build. Those girls went to state this year, and that just made them hungry for more."

And, yes, Parish

He is the CHSAA Coach of the year. Parish, being Parish wanted to spread the honor to his coaching staff, and they certainly are part o it. But Parish's pupils believe he merits this citation.

"He's an amazing coach," Constien said. "He always knows when to say, 'Great job,' or get you to work harder. That is totally well deserved."

"He's the best coach I've worked with in athletics," Naomi Harding said. "He always looks at the positive side. He's always there through thick and thin. He put together a great team with all the adversity we had."

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, cfreud@vaildaily.com and @cfreud.