Eagle-Vail hosts cross-country regionals
Region 1 Cross-Country Meet
EAGLE-VAIL — By all indications, the Battle Mountain parents will not have to shovel snow when the Region 1 Cross-Country Meet starts on Thursday, Oct. 18, with the boys racing at 2 p.m. and the girls at 2:45 p.m. at the Willow Creek Par-3 in Eagle-Vail.
The last time the Huskies hosted in 2006, the Huskies girls cross-country team entered as the defending state champion, the Battle Mountain boys were prohibitive favorites, Eagle Valley didn’t have a cross-country program — the Devils were running as Huskies — and, yes, the parents were shoveling snow.
The plotlines are as follows for Thursday’s races:
• Do the Battle Mountain girls win this meet for eighth consecutive year and continue their march for a third straight state title?
• Does a Huskies or Devils runner win the individual regional title on the girls’ side?
• Do the Battle Mountain boys qualify for state after a year’s absence?
• Can Eagle Valley qualify both squads (boys and girls) for state?
Since we rarely get the regional meet in our neck of the woods, a primer.
• Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley are two of 12 teams along with Grand Junction Central, Conifer, Evergreen, Glenwood Springs, Golden, Green Mountain, Mullen, Palisade, Steamboat Springs and Summit County.
• Each team may field nine runners in each race, but a team’s top five runners score. Finishing first scores one point; second two points and so on. As such, lower scores are better.
• The top four teams from each race advance to the state meet on Oct. 27 at the Norris-Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs. Any individual who finishes in the top 15 — not affiliated with the four qualifying teams — also makes state.
The virtual meet
Co.milesplit.com is site of all sites for high school running, be it cross-country in the fall or track and field during the spring.
The good news is that the site has a virtual meet function that can predict the results of Thursday’s meets.
Milesplit says the following for the girls’ race:
1. Battle Mountain 48
2. Green Mountain 102
3. Eagle Valley 103
4. Golden 116
5. Steamboat 129
The individual winner will be Eagle Valley’s Joslin Blair. In fact, Eagle Valley will have three runners in the top four with Samantha Blair second and Avery Doan fourth.
1. Central 62
2. Battle Mountain 82
3. Eagle Valley 105
4. Golden 123
5. Summit 129.
Battle Mountain’s top runner will be Nico Piliero in sixth with Eagle Valley senior Carter Baker in 10th.
With the computer having spoken, we probably don’t need to run the races on Thursday, right?
Is the computer right?
The computer does illustrate some valid points, such as Battle Mountain’s girls are outstanding and should, in theory, run away with an eighth regional title.
Eagle Valley’s Big Three of the Blair sisters and Madame Doan are studs, and in the hunt for an individual regional title.
Perhaps, most importantly, the simulator illustrates the importance of the Nos. 4 and 5 runners in a big meet. (Freud’s axiom for cross-country is that you watch the fours and fives. They decide the team race.) While the Devils have had outstanding performances from the aforementioned trio, the reason the Huskies are legitimately favored for a regional title is that they are so deep.
The computer has Battle Mountain’s Naomi Harding, Grace Johnson, Elliot Pribramsky, Lizzy Harding, and Brogan Murray finishing 5-9-10-11-13 for a total of 48 points. It’s worth noting that if one keeps scrolling, the Huskies have Emma Reeder in 15th, Hayley Brewster in 27th, as well as Coco Diemar, Clarisa Ortega, Amalia Manning, and Hayley Diemar all finishing ahead of Eagle Valley’s Tatum Coe 41st in the standings and scoring 36 points for her team, as the Devils’ fourth runner.
Now the sound you just heard was Coe grinding her teeth and using this as motivation that she’s going to go out on Thursday and prove everyone wrong.
Just a look at the Eagle Valley boys during the last two regionals proves the computer quite fallible. One year ago, the simulator had the Devils winning their first regional title in Summit. Evergreen pulled the upset with the Devils second. Two years ago, the Devils were ranked No. 6 in the virtual meet and probably shouldn’t have bothered to show up. They made state.
Things to watch
The best thought is to view what milesplit.com says as a very broad outline. The program takes the best times racers have posted all season and uses that for its calculations.
Runners aren’t guaranteed to put up their best times of the season on Thursday, though that certainly is the goal.
There are some other factors involved:
• Runners are human beings. Sometimes, they have bad days. Being bipartisan, last year at Summit, Eagle Valley’s Doan and Battle Mountain’s Lizzy Harding had bad meets by their standards. They just weren’t on their game. It wasn’t a lack of hard work throughout the season or lack of effort on the given day. It happens.
Doan has come roaring back and is doubtless using that as motivation for Thursday, while the Harding sisters, Lizzie and Naomi both, are no strangers to dealing with adversity throughout their careers.
Likewise, runners can have great days. We will all stipulate that Naomi Harding’s always a good bet for a top 10 finish — unless she gets on a bicycle — she ended up winning regionals last year. That wasn’t the goal. It just happened.
• The Blairs’ and Doan’s times used for the simulation came from a meet in Arizona earlier this month. Lower altitude is a big factor in running fast. There’s also the course. A lot of the Battle Mountain girls’ times used for the computer were recorded at Delta, also a fast course, but not as low in altitude.
The Willow Creek Par-3, as demonstrated by the meet in September, is not a fast course, per se. Steamboat’s Maggi Condon won the race with time of 20 minutes, 42 seconds with Naomi Harding in second at 20:46.
Joslin Blair’s simulator time in Arizona was 17:25, and it’s hard to see her replicate that time on this course.
That said, it’s hard not to see Blair, Blair and Doan in the top 10, whatever the times, on Thursday.
• With the simulator just taking times, it doesn’t consider recent results. Battle Mountain’s boys and Central went head-to-head two weeks ago in Delta. The Huskies won, but Central is ranked No. 1 and Battle Mountain No. 2 going into Thursday’s race.
More likely on the boys’ side, it’s who has a good day — Central or Battle Mountain? Or does Eagle Valley come in, blow up the rankings and win the thing?
• Watch the taper: Battle Mountain cross-country’s taper is particularly noteworthy this time of season. For the uninitiated, tapering is the change of doing distance workouts to training in shorter intervals of speed. If timed correctly, tapering can result in improvement of times in races.
Coach Rob Parish has been mum on whether his teams are tapering in advance of regionals or whether he’ll wait for the state meet. But history says that Battle Mountain times tend to drop around this time of year.
See you at the races.