Huskies cross country sends two to state
Erika Ghent and Molly McGee qualified Saturday at Delta for the 4A state cross-country championships, the first Battle Mountain runners to do so since Catherine Himmes qualified in 2001.
Both the boys’ and girls’ teams ran their fastest cumulative times of the year, but it wasn’t enough for either team to finish in the top four and advance to the state meet next weekend in Colorado Springs.
“There’s absolutely no part of me that is disappointed,” said coach Kelli Witter. “Everyone ran their hardest out there on the course today, everyone improved, and that’s all a coach can ask for. Today was a culmination of all of their efforts.”
The girls’ team finished fifth, just five points behind fourth-place Montrose. Mullen, Steamboat Springs and Moffat County claimed the top spots for the girls’ teams.
Ghent, a sophomore, paced the Huskies with a 10th-place finish in the 5K race on a flat course at 19 minutes, 53 seconds ; freshman McGee finished 12th with a time of 19:59; senior Maddie McCaulley came in 30th at 21:34; sophomore Sammy McCoy was 38th at 22:07; and sophomore Whitney Allard rounded out the scoring with 43rd place at 22:23.
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“I had done the flat course in Dakota Ridge in Denver, and that was my best race, so I knew that this one would be pretty good too,” said Ghent. “As a team, it was disappointing, since it was so close, but everyone was happy because that was the best we have ever done in a race.”
Mullen’s Jennifer Jones had the fastest time of the day for the girls, finishing in 18:45, 13 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Jen Hoaper of Steamboat Springs. Battle Mountain’s McGee nearly crossed the finish line right after her teammate Ghent, trailing 11th-place finisher Lauren Lightfoot of Steamboat Springs by only two seconds.
“I did a lot better than I thought I would,” said McGee. “I just felt good and rested for the race. We are very proud that we got that close to state. I wasn’t here last year, but I heard that we moved up almost 100 points or so from last season.
The boys finished eighth, behind several teams they had beaten earlier in the season. Mullen, Moffat County, Montrose and Steamboat Springs qualified as teams for state on the boys side.
The Huskies boys were paced by junior Grant Stevenson, who finished 35th with a time of 18:03; sophomore Ben Rogers was right on his heels in 37th at 18:09; junior Zach Erickson placed 39th at 18:30; junior Davis Gaul took 43rd at 18:49; and junior Andy Given completed the scoring with 51st at 19:29.
A silver lining was that at least 10 out of the 14 “Penguins” who ran in regionals clocked their personal bests for their cross-country careers, and both teams are young. All the boys are eligible to return next season, and the girls will lose just two to graduation: seniors McCaulley and Jennie Thorne.
“Everyone ran their hearts out,” Rob Parish said as he and fellow coach Witter addressed the team afterward. “They had nothing left. Everyone should be so proud of not only what they did today, but the whole season.”
Thorne, the lead girls runner early in the season before shin splints forced her out of the past several meets, toughed out her last meet as a Husky in obvious pain and passed out briefly while collapsing – just after crossing the finish line in 22:41.
Saints spike fall to DeBeque
Bring on districts.
The Vail Christian volleyball team lost a tough five-game match at DeBeque Saturday night – 25-16, 15-25, 22-25, 25-10, 15-9 – but the Saints were, by no means, discouraged by the result.
After a 1-15 season in 2002, Vail Christian finishes the season with a 7-3 mark in the 1A Mountain League, good for third place, easily the program’s best placing. And, the Saints recorded their first winning season at 9-8 overall.
“It was obviously disappointing for the girls,” Saints coach Cathy Alexander said. “But, they’re taking it as a learning experience. They’re going into districts with we learned tonight, and we hope to use those lessons to win at districts.
At Saturday’s district tournament in Delta, Vail Christian will be in the same pool with No. 2 Vail Mountain and No. 5 Norwood.
Managing Editor Don Rogers contributed to this report.
Nate Peterson is a sports writer for the Vail Daily. Contact him at (970) 949-0555, ext. 608 or by e-mail at email@example.com.