Huskies earn plenty of postseason awards
Boys reign supreme with five of 10 spots going to Battle Mountain; girls still flying highBy Ian CroppDaily Sports WriterEAGLE-VAIL – Just in case anyone forgot, Battle Mountain cross country really is that good.This year, the Huskies brought home a boys’ 4A state title and a seventh-place girls’ finish. And much like black and gold unioform filled the winner’s podium at nearly every race, Battle Mountain racked up the postseason awards.Jonny Stevens led the way with his second all-state nod in addition to an all-league bid. Stevens finished sixth at the state meet, three places higher than he did last year.”That’s incredible for Jonny considering he didn’t run a step for six weeks at the beginning of the season,” said Huskies’ coach Rob Parish, referring to a stress fracture in Stevens’ foot.Jamie Farhmeyer was also all-league for the boys, who had Colt Nelson, Tony Crisofulli and Mario Gonzalez named honorable mention. The top five runners are all-league, while the next five are honorable mention. The top 10 in state are all-state.”It’s great that the team did well, and even better that the top five guys on our team are in there,” Stevens said.On the girls’ side, Jessica Linder was all-league, narrowly missing all-state with her 12th-place finish at the state meet. And for the fourth year in a row, Molly McGee was all-league honorable mention.
An inauspicious startWhen Stevens made a trip to the doctor’s office earlier this year, he didn’t know when he’d be able to race.”They said it could have been a stress fracture or something else,” Stevens said. “We weren’t sure what to expect.”Thanks to some low-impact cross training, Stevens was back in business for the second half of the season. “It was a bummer I couldn’t run for those six weeks, but Parish had me doing a bunch of alternative training, and I was still about to go to the pool workouts. I lucked out where the stress fracture was in my foot. That’s the main reason I was able to come back and do as well as I did.”In Stevens’ absence, Farhmeyer stepped up for a breakout season.”He was super consistent all year long,” Parish said. “Even when Jonny was out, Jamie was our No. 1 runner and leading the team. One of the reasons the team had such success was that Jamie came into his own as a runner.”Linder, a sophomore, made huge strides in her first year running cross country.”We were so fortunate to have her,” Parish said. “She did some amazing things, and as she continues to get into better shape and get more experience, she’ll be a bigger threat at the state level. She’s so aggressive.” Stevens enjoyed having a teammate like Linder.
“It was a lot of fun because a lot of times first-year kids will come in and do pretty well and will do more of Parish’s workouts,” Stevens said. “Jess came out and was crushing people, and got that much better as the season went on.”Four scoreWhen McGee first ran for Battle Mountain, the Huskies were on the verge of qualifying for state.”It’s been amazing, just looking at what we were running freshman year, and what the team was like, to how big the team is now, and how much your body can really handle,” McGee said. “Parish’s program is amazing. At the beginning of each year, he has every day planned out for what you are running. He doesn’t tell us, but he has it planned.”Kelly Witter helps Parish coach the more than 75 kids on the boys and girls teams.McGee, who attends Vail Christian, had some company on varsity with a fellow Vail Christian student in Linder”It was a lot of fun to have my own school friend running with us,” McGee said, adding that all Saints are Huskies. “We just think of ourselves as a cross country team.”And it’s that team feeling that helped both the boys and girls be in the top-10 at state for the second year in a row. Last year the girls won and the guys finished 10th.”That’s something that’s special about our team and kids – they really buy into the team aspect,” Parish said. “We may not have kids who finish first in a race, but we’ll do the best to have the top team.”Crisofulli, Nelson and Gonzalez, along with the rest of the varsity and some of the JV, could have been the top runners on any other team. The depth allowed the Huskies to win all year, even with injuries.
“Every year we’ve had someone get hurt towards the end of the season, or something happens and someone isn’t able to run. Having everyone in the program, we know we’re going to keep going hard,” Stevens said.McGee also recognizes the importance of having kids ready to step into place.”Freshman year, we didn’t have that and didn’t make it to state because of that, so it’s very encouraging to know that someone will step up,” McGee said.One more runThe boys were recently selected to compete at the Nike Team Nationals Dec. 2 in Oregon. Although the Huskies will be one of the smallest schools at the meet, they have little reason to be intimidated.”After the dust settled a bit, we put the guys time in to the 5A (state) race, and they would have been second, 16 points behind Dakota Ridge,” Parish said. “There will be great teams in Oregon, but that gave us some confidence.”And although McGee may have run her last high school race, she’s be putting on the shoes for years to come.”We’ve all been made runners for life,” McGee said. Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or email@example.com.