Battle Mountain back to defend title
EAGLE-VAIL – Last year was a bit of a fantasy the Battle Mountain cross country team.”It was one of those seasons of your dreams. It fell into place like you scripted it,” said Battle Mountain coach Rob Parish. “We had great kids, hard workers and it showed in the results.”Don’t pinch the Huskies just yet, they are ready for another dream season.Last year Battle Mountain swept regionals, and the girls went on to win state while the guys placed 10th. This time, the Huskies want another regionals sweep. The talent and depth are there for both teams, but there is another intangible that will drive the Huskies all year – defending their home turf.As a reward for winning regionals last year, Battle Mountain gets to host the 2006 regional meet, and the Huskies are already eyeing the Oct. 21 date.”That’s what we’re working towards right now,” said Molly McGee, who will lead the girls. “We put that one at the top of our list of winning.”Parish hopes that some of the newer varsity runners will quickly adopt the goal.
“We’re trying to emphasis the pride aspect of being the defending regional and state champs,” Parish said. “Even if kids weren’t part of that group, they can all take that as something to have pride in.”Dropping timesBattle Mountain lost some of its top finishers from last year, but there are plenty of able runners waiting to step up. The boys will be without Ben Rogers and Shea Phelan.”Our one through five (runners) this year will be where our top three were most of last year,” said Jonny Stevens, one of the top returners in the state. Stevens, who is out for a bit recovering from a foot injury, thinks the team surprised itself a bit last year.”We didn’t know and think we would be able to do as well as we did,” Stevens said. “To do that after we had lost that many seniors (the previous year) … and after only losing two seniors this past year, we can definitely step it up.”Along with Stevens, the boys have Jamie Farhmayer, Lorenzo Macias, John O’Neil, Tony Cristifoli (who also plays soccer), transfter Colt Nelson, Griffin Turnipseed, Michael Hand, Ryan Walker, Jake Ball and Alex Dolan.
“With Johnny out, there’s no pecking order established just yet, so the guys are looking to flex their muscles a bit and show they should be on varsity,” Parish said. “It all shakes out after the first few races.”Farhmayer is excited about having a core group of runners.”Hopefully we can get fifth or sixth at state,” Farhmayer said.Younger legsThe girls lost top runners to graduation in Jen Bowles, Ericka Ghent, Whitney Allard, Sammy McCoy and Leslie Peterson, as well as Christa Ghent to injury, but most of the girls who didn’t start last year would have been varsity on just about any other team.”Some of these girls who are coming up were good runners and were just on a very good team,” Parish said. “They’ve matured and have a higher expectation for themselves. They are ready to step into those roles. Good runners don’t always develop right away. They’ll develop over time.”Back from last year’s team are Marit Johnson, McKenzie Stevens, Heidi Sorenson and Karlie Peterson, while newer additions include Shannon O’Rourke, Cecelia Garcia, Jamie Lee Roberts and Jessica Linder, all of whom have impressed Parish early on.The girls will be mixing up the who runs at the first few meets to see who will fit in where.
“There’s a little bit of a top group, but (we don’t have) our top seven. There’s going to be some racing for the last couple of spots,” McGee said.HealthyBattle Mountain will be cross training in the pool again this year on Wednesday’s as part of Parish’s plan to keep his team healthy.”Cross training is something we’re increasing, as a commitment to injury prevention,” Parish said. “We’re implementing more stretching techniques and mobility exercises.”Parish is still looking to push his kids hard throughout the season, and understands that they won’t finish near the top at every meet.”We want to well throughout the season, but the end is the most important,” Parish said. “If we enter some of the races tired, that’s OK. We’re not going to sacrifice training just to look good in midseason races. We’ll have the pedal on the gas all season, then we’ll take it off and let them rest and recover, and their peak is tremendous.”For both teams, Parish hopes there will be kids to fill the leadership void.
“Our top girls (from last year) will be hard to replace not only in point scoring, but they were some of the crew that, along with Ben and Shea, we started the team with and built the team around,” Parish said.But there certainly won’t be a lack of spirit or numbers for the Huskies”That’s one of the big things that separates our team from a lot of other teams,” Stevens said. “If you go to one of the races and you are out on the course, you’ll see a group of seven Battle Mountain kids cheering on someone at this section, this section and this section.”The Huskies will get a chance to cheer each other on and size up the competition today at Harrison, a meet they will hopefully attend later in the season.”The state meet is at that course,” Parish said. “By design, we go down there and let the kids get that race in their heads and have a mental picture to see what they’ll be doing throughout the season.”Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or email@example.com.Vail, Colorado
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