Battle Mountain’s McGee, Ghent finish in top third at state cross-country
With 166 other competitors at the starting line of Saturday’s 4A State Girls Cross Country Meet at the El Pomar Youth Sports Complex in Colorado Springs -Battle Mountains two lone representatives Molly McGee and Erika Ghent thought it might be a good idea to stick together.
McGee, a freshman, finished in 50th place, while sophomore Ghent finished just a step behind in 51st.
“It helped to have Erika, because she really pushed me,” said McGee. “We have sort of been right next to each other the whole season.”
The top-third finish for the two was the perfect ending to a story about two girls who didn’t even know if they were going to run on the team this year.
“We didn’t even know if they were gong to come out at the beginning of the year,” said Battle Mountain coach Rob Parish. “They weren’t even on our radar.”
Participate in The Longevity Project
The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.
Ghent, along with running for the cross country team, also plays club soccer, and wasn’t sure if she was going to be able to juggle both this fall. McGee, who is also a swimmer, was surprised at her 12th-place finish last weekend at the regional meet in Delta, which allotted her a berth in the state meet Saturday, being that it was her first year on the team.
“I think just doing other sports, trying to get our priorities straight – that really helped,” said McGee. “I think [swimming] helped a lot. All summer, I swam, so it got me in good shape, even at the start of the season.”
Parish, along with coach Kelli Witter were more than pleased with their two state-qualifiers on Saturday, but they weren’t surprised.
“They are certainly not cocky, but they were confident,” said Parish. “I don’t think they were surprised. They were very focused and ready to go.”
Running on a flat course at a lower altitude was a bonus for the Battle Mountain harriers, who are used to running at higher altitudes and more hilly courses in the 4A Western Slope.
“It was a lot like the course we’d run before that. There was only one hill,” said Ghent. “We just knew we had to push our hard, because there weren’t any hills to pass girls on. Whenever there was a chance, you just had to go for it.”
Added Parish, “I think it’s a huge edge, probably just as much psychological, as it is physical. The girls felt like they were more well-rested and getting more oxygen. We do a lot of training on hills, and the last two races have been very flat, which has been a huge advantage.”
There’s only more good news to come for both McGee and her partner-in-time Ghent, since McGee has three more years of running ahead of her and Ghent has two.
“It does help sticking together, because we keep pushing each other,” said Ghent. “Like the coaches said, to finish in the top third, that’s big deal. I didn’t realize how many girls would be there. Once we finished, we were like “Whoa.’ It was a major accomplishment.”
Nate Peterson is a sports writer for the Vail Daily. He can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext. 608 or via firstname.lastname@example.org.