Huskies girls cross-country take second at state; boys claim third | VailDaily.com

Huskies girls cross-country take second at state; boys claim third

COLORADO SPRINGS — To motivate Battle Mountain cross-country before Saturday's state meet in Colorado Springs, the Huskies brought back some alumni.

Erika Ghent and John O'Neill, both members of previous state champion teams at Battle Mountain, sent a message.

"They told us that you run for each other," Huskies senior Ethan Pence said. "You give everything you've got. Anything less is a failure."

By that and just about every other statistic, the Huskies were a success. The ladies took second, only behind powerhouse Air Academy, while the gents took third on Saturday at the 4A state meet down in Colorado state meet.

A little perspective

Battle Mountain's girls "lost" to Air Academy, 60-77. The Kadets are ranked No. 21 … in the country, in the Saucony/Flo 50. Let's repeat, in the country.

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The Huskies didn't really lose. In most years, they would have brought home the brass ring.

The Huskies' 77 points — a reminder that less in more in running — was 40 points better than the team's total in 2005, when Ghent and the Huskies won the state title. Battle Mountain had 50 fewer points than last year's 4A winner, Palmer Ridge.

"If you had told me that our top-five runners finished eighth through 22nd in team scores, I would of taken that every day of the week," Huskies coach Rob Parish said.

Liz Constien was the Battle Mountain runner in eighth. Last year, she was an alternate and didn't even run at state. Naomi Harding was 22nd in team scoring, 28th overall, allowing for individual qualifiers to run at the meet. Harding was in middle school last year.

"They sold out," Parish said. "They went for broke. In a normal year, they would have accomplished it (a state title). At first they were a little disappointed. After we looked it with some perspective, they realized what they did."

Cross-country coaches track everything. To wit, Rychelle Denardo was 29th in last year's state meet. She was 15th. Megan Rossman went from 54th to 22nd. Alex Raichart dove from 76th to 28th.

Constien, by virtue of finishing eighth is all-state.

"It's just a great experience, giving it all for my team to succeed," Constien said.

Denardo is honorable mention all-state.

In the last five years Battle Mountain's girls have finished fourth, fourth, third, sixth and second at state.

From the ashes

When this year's seniors started as freshmen, the Battle Mountain boys had not qualified for state the previous year. This is something akin to the sun not rising in the east.

The seniors on the state team — Pence, Riley Jake Borel, Koby Simonton and Isac Sotelo — not only got back to state but have finished 23rd, 16th, sixth and third the last four years at the big dance.

"When I think of this team my freshman year, I remember thinking that (David) Suarez was one of the best runners I've ever seen," Pence said, going on to mention Battle Mountain alumni. "Ethan (Cotton), Josh (Braun), Ricky (Arreola), it's just crazy to see where we've come in such a short amount of time."

"This group has overachieved every step of the way," Parish said. "They are the epitome of hard work. They're what happens when people set their minds to a task and come together as a group."

Borel was 110th last year. He dropped to 45th. Riley, Simonton and Nathaniel Badger were alternates.

And more is coming. Junior Alexis Aguirre took ninth. That is noteworthy as he is the first Battle Mountain boys runner to nab all-state in both his sophomore and junior year since now-assistant coach Jonny Stevens did so in 2005-06. Aguirre already has broken Stevens' race record last week at regionals.

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

Class 4A state meet

Boys

Team scores

1. Durango, 73; 2. Palmer Ridge 75; 3. Battle Mountain 173; 4. Classical Academy, 175; 5. Air Academy 205.

Individual times

8. Alexis Aguirre, BM, 16:30

31. Franklin Reilly, BM, 17:18

37. Ethan Pence, BM, 17:23

45. Jake Borel, BM, 17:31

53. Aiden Branch, EV, 17:36

63. Brandon Sheard, EV, 17:41

72. Kobi Simonton, BM, 17:48

80. Nathaniel Badger, BM, 17:51

83. Isac Sotelo, BM, 17:56

Girls

Team scores

1. Air Academy 60; 2. Battle Mountain 77; 3. Thompson Valley, 162; 4. Palmer Ridge 176; 5. Centaurus 186.

Individual times

9. Liz Constien, BM, 19:26

15. Rychelle Denardo, BM, 19:43

22. Megan Rossman, BM, 20:04

23. Alex Raichart, BM, 20:05

28. Naomi Harding, BM, 20:14

81. Lizzy Harding, BM, 21:21

97. Hannah Gaylord, BM, 21:33