Eagle County XC: Locals headed to state
CORTEZ – Welcome back, ladies.
Battle Mountain cross country will be sending both of its teams to state next week after the boys and girls finished third at Saturday’s regional meet down in Cortez.
For the girls, their third-place finish marks a return to state after a one-year absence.
“It’s pretty amazing,” Huskies coach Ken Long said. “Especially when you consider last year, there were times when we had a hard time fielding seven varsity runners in a race. For the girls to have developed as a team like this is absolutely huge.”
The surprise of the day was that freshman Sydney Gaylord finished second behind Moffat County’s Maddy Jourgensen with a time of 21 minutes, 8 seconds, beating out the Huskies’ usual No. 1, Amelia Ortiz.
“She’s been running well the last couple of weeks,” Long said of Gaylord. “We were confident that she’d be the top five. They next thing you know, she’s second. She has great talent and she’s worked really hard.”
And that, kids, is the highest finish at regionals by a Battle Mountain female since 2005, when Erika Ghent won the meet and Jen Bowles finished second. The 2005 Huskies ladies brought home a state title a week later.
Ortiz was fifth in 21:36, followed by Val Rivero (29th, 23:45). Pearl Nanin (24:01, 32nd) and Mandy Ortiz (24:02, 33rd) were the team heroes of the day. They both passed up a Glenwood Springs runner in the final stretch, as the Huskies clipped the Demons by one point.
Jenai Denardo (45th, 24:36) and Maddie Stevens (49th, 24:55) rounded out the varsity.
This marks the sixth-straight year, the boys are going to state. There was a little bit of disappointment by finishing third because the bar has been set so high by previous Battle Mountain teams, but the Huskies are still sending the full complement.
“I think realistically, we could have finished second,” Long said. “If we had a really good day, I think we were hoping to beat Moffat. It’s not the result they had hoped for, but they’re going to state.”
David Shearon battled to third place in 17:51. He and teammate Mitch Walker were able to break up Moffat’s 1-2 punch of Chris Zirkle and Alfredo LeBron, finishing third and fourth, respectively. Zirkle took first and Glenwood’s Andrew Mansfield was second.
Shearon expended a ton of energy doing that, and was in the final three in the final portion of the race, but had nothing left in the tank.
Walker’s fourth-place finish was extremely impressive. This was the first time this year he knocked off Lebron (sixth).
David Suarez was 18th (19:10), followed by Remsen Allard (31st, 20:10) and Charlie Barry (43rd, 20:30). Aleksei Horn and Mike Ball rounded out the varsity.
Devils sending three
CORTEZ – No, really, Kira, you’re 15th, not 16th. Fifteenth place.
In the heat of the moment at regionals down in Cortez, Eagle Valley cross country’s Kira Quintana was understandably confused. She had spent the race in the pack with the Nos. 11-16 runners, and really thought she finished 16th.
“Kira was fighting so hard coming down the stretch,” Devils coach Melinda Brandt said. “One of the runners in that pack had fallen off, but she didn’t know. She was pretty convinced she was 16th.”
Sixteenth place is nice, but 15th place or better comes with a trip to the state meet next week. And so once the results came out and Quintana was convinced that she was 15th, there was great rejoicing.
There were lots of reasons for happiness in Eagle Valley’s camp. The Devils are sending three to next week’s state meet at the Arapahoe Fairgrounds, and that’s the best in school history.
For the trivially-inclined, Eagle Valley had two runners in 2008 with Mario Gonzalez and Joe Trujillo. So Nikki Cunning, 12th in 22 minutes, 31 seconds, and Quintana (15th, 22:42) are the first ladies from Eagle Valley to make state. An Gregg Salazar will be joining them on the boys’ side after taking 11th in 18:38.
“They’re all freshmen,” Brandt said, adding the supper-happy news. “The all ran and knew where they were. They stayed in their spots and ran a great race,”
The girls finished seventh as a team, led by their two state qualifiers. Samantha Maddox finished 42nd in 24:15. Kelly Cassidy was 47th in 24:46, followed by Taylor Claydon filling out the scoring.
For the boys, Chris Purse was the surprise No. 2. He finished 46th in 20:34. Hunter Burnham (47th, 20:35), Ben Muehlethaler (48th, 20:42) and Aaron Kline (51st, 2050) all came home in a pack.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.