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Huskies attempt repeat Saturday

Daily file photo/Preston UtleyBattle Mountain cross country coach Rob Parish reacts after the boys won the state title last year in Colorado Springs. The Huskies try to make it two in a row at Saturday's state meet. The boys run at 10:30 a.m., followed by the girls at noon.
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The entire Battle Mountain boys’ cross country season comes down to 16-17 minutes Saturday.

All the running from the first practice in August ” and before ” doesn’t matter. At 10:30 a.m. at the Vineyard Golf Course at in Colorado Springs, the gun goes off and the Huskies will be trying to repeat as 4A state champs.

“It’s something that’s unique to distance running,” Huskies coach Rob Parish said. “It’s not necessarily based on a body of work. You’ve got to perform on the one day, and hopefully, you’re prepared.”



“It’s the last race of the season, state,” Huskies senior Tony Crisofulli said. “There’s no other race. It’s the last race you can show every other team, every other coach and runner that you mean business. With running a sub-17 minute 5K, you are focused and you are ready to do it. It all comes down to how much you surge in the last mile.”

The boys enter as the favorites. The girls, whose race starts at noon, will be shooting for their fourth top-10 finish in as many years.

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“We definitely don’t take it for granted and it’s special every time,” Parish said. “As coaches, we remember a time we weren’t going (to state). The current group of athletes don’t remember that time. We’re always looking forward to it. One of the strengths of our program is that we don’t take it for granted.”

Tapering

And the Huskies are ready. Parish and assistant coach Kelli Witter know the telltale sign ” it’s hard getting the team to taper.



The Huskies have mellowed their routine this week to rest for the big event. Long runs are a “mere” 5 miles as opposed to the usual 12. Speed work is in the form of 200- and 300-meter intervals, instead of mile repeats.

When not running, the teams have had their goal-setting meetings. Parish has been able to scout the whole state. There’s confidence, but focus.

“I think our team’s really excited about what’s been happening in the last few weeks,” senior Kenzie Grant said. “We’ve been doing really well. We’ve made a huge leap in our performances. We’re really looking forward to the state meet and we’re going to give it all we have. For a lot of us, it’s going to be our last race.”

Strategy

Wit senior-loaded squads, the Huskies know the course down in the Springs. The Huskies have opened the season every year at on this loop and have competed there at the last four state meets as well.

Unlike regular season meets, there are no weak runners at the state meet, so the strategy is consistency and hammering the final mile.

“The consistent theme throughout all these races is that the runners who got out fast ran strong through the first two miles and the crushed the last mile,” Parish said. “The race is such a taxing race with the way the terrain is and how many athletes there are that there are people who are attacking all race.”

“You’ve got to surge through turns,” Crisofulli said. “Last mile, you’ve got to go. Every place you lose is a point.”

The boys will be battling with Liberty, Niwot, Denver North and D’Evelyn for the crown. Not only are those schools significant factors, but that on any given day, anything can happen. A clean start is key. In a mass start, legs get entwined and elbows can stray.

Parish has coached his charges of the possibility. Then again, Battle Mountain, especially the boys, has been the target of attention all year with its No. 1 ranking.

“The guys have been fully aware of where they’ve stood all season,” Parish said. “They’ve had the bull’s eye on their back and they’ve done well with that. They’ve almost relished in that. Having said that, they know they need to put it all together. What I’ve said about both groups ” the girls in 2005 (state champs) and the guys last year ” all you want is to feel like you’re one of the teams that has a shot going into the state meet.”

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or cfreud@vaildaily.com.


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