Devils, Huskies harriers solid in opener
FORT COLLINS, Colorado ” It’s a whole new word for cross country in Eagle County and it looks pretty good.
Eagle Valley had a successful debut Thursday at Fort Collins in the sport, while Battle Mountain showed there’s plenty of life in the program after the bulk of its back-to-back boys’ state championship team graduated in May.
And all of this happened on the new state course that’s moved way north up Interstate 25 from Colorado Springs to Fort Collins.
For a new program, it’s great to have a few “old” hands to lead the way in the likes of Mario Gonzales-Martinez and Andrew Hill, who both ran for Battle Mountain last year.
Gonzales-Martinez led the Eagle Valley boys with an 18th-place finish in 18 minutes. Hill was 66th in 18 minutes, 34 seconds.
“Andrew and Mario are our team’s vocal leaders,” Eagle Valley coach Melinda Brandt said.
And for the statistically-inclined, this was a very competitive field given that 34 seconds separated 48 places. Hill earned the team’s new Hoss Award, which will be given after each race to the runner who best exemplifies team spirit.
Uvaldo Trujillo took 18th in 19 flat, followed by Cody Frye (154th, 21:02) and James Jagger (186th, 22:24) rounded out the scoring for the Devils.
By comparison, the girls’ team struggled, but these Devils are young, so look for improvement this season and in the years to come. Freshmen Kelly Cassidy (118th, 24:13) and Logan Kinser (154th, 25:40) led the way with impressive high-school debuts. Megan McQueeny was 168th in 26:24, followed by Shanna Zoch in 192nd (29:02). Ann Carlin was Eagle Valley’s fifth in 30:09.
Also of note was sophomore Blanca Gonzales-Martinez, only a sophomore, who ran a 24:05 in the open race at Fort Collins ” the Devils could only enter five runners in the high school race. That time will likely put her in contention for a varsity spot in future races.
All times and finishes aside, Thursday was the day Eagle Valley officially became a team.
“It was great,” Brandt said. “We really have a great team chemistry. We went on a camping trip last week and have been having team dinners. We have 23 kids and I think the whole Eagle Valley community is going to benefit from this. We have 23 kids out and it’s great to see them competing.”
Wallace, Linder lead Huskies
Technically, the Battle Mountain boys cross country team is the defending state champion. But with its state five at college or competing for Eagle Valley, it’s a new team.
But the cupboard is by no means bare. Conor Wallace and company showed that Thursday by finishing 10th in what is usually considered an early preview of the state meet.
Wallace flew to 11th place in 17:17, an awfully nice time to be running in late August. While Wallace is the only returner at Battle Mountain from the title team, several runners started to make a name for themselves at the varsity level Thursday.
David Shearon clocked an 18:14, good for 47th, while Charles Gladitsch was 55th in 18:19. And Vail Christian runners Eric Gallagher (74th, 18:45) and Ian Hamina (80th, 18:51) also made their presence felt.
Speaking of the Saints, Jessica Linder led the ladies in 14th place with a time of 20:16. Amelia Ortiz ended up in 25th with a 21:05. Lettie Fickling was 51st (22:07). Anouk Guilmineau grabbed 83rd (23:13), followed by Shannon O’Rourke (99th, 23:45).
“We wanted to put them in with every top runner in the state,” Huskies coach Lyle Knudson said. “I think some of them were a little overwhelmed in their first varsity race. Most of these kids have only competed at the JV level. We will improve. Let’s just put it that way.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or email@example.com.