Huskies dominate home meet
Battle Mountain held its first ever home meet Tuesday, as the Rifle Bears came to town on a rainy afternoon which would see the Huskies dominate the individual and team results.
The Huskies might like to make a habit of hosting cross-country events in the future, after finishing with four of the top-five, as well as the overall winners in both the boys’ and girls’ sides of the draw.
Coaches Rob Parish and Kelly Witter had their teams ready to go Tuesday, devoting ample practice time to training specifically for this challenging course.
“It was a very tough course. We set it up so that there were plenty of hills and obstacles,” said Parish. “We worked the last couple of weeks pushing hard up the hills, running over the crests of climbs and running down hard, attacking the whole time.”
That practice philosophy must have hit home for overall boys’ winner Zack Erickson, who won his first, career cross-country race. Applying his experience from training to his race strategy would bring him across the finish line first, in a time 21 minutes, and 37 seconds.
“I tried to push it hard on the hills, stride on the downhills and cut the corners real sharp,” said Erickson. “I just tried to get ahead of everyone early and stay in front.”
Erickson led the whole way with teammates Davis Gaul, finishing second in a time of 22:08, followed by Ben Rogers, who would make it home in 22:48.
Grant Stevenson hammered across the finish line for the Huskies to take fourth, edging out Rifle’s Bradie Kozer by one second with a time of 22:56.
On the girls’ side, Jenny Thorne would also win her first ever race in a time of 24:30. She, and Erickson, continued to establish themselves as forces with which to contend during this year’s cross-country campaign.
“This was a breakout performance by Zack and Jenny,” said Parish. “They both just had huge days on our home course. It was nice to win in front of the home crowd like this.”
Jessica Warwick of Rifle would finish second with a time of 24:59. The rest of the top five was rounded out by the Lady Huskies, with Molly McGee in third in a time of 25:45, Sabrina Ste. Marie in fourth finishing in 25:58 and Erika Ghent in fifth with a time of 26:51.
This race bodes well for the rest of the Huskies cross-country season, one in which both the boys’ and girls’ squads are aiming for a bid to state at year’s end.
“They’ve set the goal for themselves to make it to state this year,” said Parish. “That means we have to be in the top four in the region at the end of the year, so this was a great start. It’s the best Battle Mountain race I’ve seen since I’ve been here.”
The team will travel to Steamboat Springs on Saturday for its next meet.