Huskies girls win home meet
BEAVER CREEK – Welcome to the mountains, people.
Battle Mountain cross country made itself feel at home at its invitational and so did Eagle Valley for that matter. The Huskies’ Mandy Ortiz and Sydney Gaylord went 1-2 in the girls’ race as the Huskies ladies nipped Aspen by one point to win the Battle Mountain Invitational at Beaver Creek. Meanwhile, Eagle Valley’s boys put their stamp on the day by finishing second as a team.
The air up there
Mountain teams are used to running at elevation, but Saturday’s course at Beaver Creek gets athletes running at around 8,500 feet with major elevation change.
“The course, in my opinion, is probably the toughest out there,” Huskies coach Ken Long said. “Aspen and Leadville are close, but I think ours is tougher with the singletrack, the climbing and steep downhills. It’s truly mountain running.”
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And, as such, times swelled for both local squads coming off fast opening races at Smoky Hill (Huskies) and Delta (Devils) last week.
Nonetheless, Ortiz and Galylord had plenty of gas in the tank. Ortiz finished in 22 minutes, 23 seconds with Gaylord at 22:46. Give Gaylord serious props. She was ill for most of the week – and missed two practices – but still rallied well for silver.
As for Ortiz, it’s her first career win.
“It was really exciting,” she said. “I just felt really good. I just decided to see what I could do. Sydney pushed me,. It was a great race for both of us.”
For the trivially-inclined, an Ortiz has won the Battle Mountain Invitational twice in the last three years. Amelia won it in 2009, and now Mandy. In another fun tidbit, Amelia Ortiz won her first race during the second race of her junior year. Yep, Mandy’s a junior, and Saturday was race No. 2 of the season. (Now if we can just get David Shearon another year or two of eligibility, so he could win on the same day an Ortiz triumphs … never mind.)
Maddie Stevens ran a 26:08, good for 22nd, followed by Jenai Denardo (25th, 26:21) and Christina Shearon (27th, 26:28). Since it was a one-point win over Aspen, these three were critical.
For Eagle Valley, Nikki Cunning was her sterling self, finishing in 24:35 for 10th place. Samantha Maddox was 14th in 24:50 with Kira Quintana (25:18, 19th), Amy Applegate (26:56, 35th) and Aracely Villalobos (27:43, 42nd) scoring.
Devils get some hardware
While Eagle Valley technically was a visiting team for this affair, the Devils had trained for this race. They had run the course and the gents were ready.
The Devils finished second, thank you very much.
“I was really proud of the way our kids responded,” Devils coach Melinda Brandt said. “We prepared with a lot of running on the course. We had done hill workouts and we crushed the hills. We did specific training, and it paid off this weekend.”
Gregg Salaz was third with a 19:33. Hunter Burnham took 11th with a time of 20:32. Nathan Maddox (17th, 21:27), Robbie Clark (27th, 21:48) and Rafael Gurule (30th, 22:05) helped push the Devils into second.
Eric Spry 5K
The day started with the traditional citizen’s race, which has been newly-christened the Eric Spry Memorial 5K. Spry, an alum and longtime member of the Huskies cross country team, died of pneumonia last fall.
And the running community came out to honor him and his mom, Jeanne Sagurton, Saturday morning.
“There were tons of kids who ran with Eric four years ago or more recently,” Long said. “The (Battle Mountain) football team was out there. The soccer team was running. We raised a ton of money for a scholarship in Eric’s name. It was awesome how the community came together.”
“It was really nice to see everyone out there honoring Eric,” Ortiz said. “Our race was important to Eric. He would have loved to have seen everyone out there running.”
Battle Mountain heads to the Liberty Bell Friday, while Eagle Valley hosts its first home meet Saturday at the Gypsum Creek Golf Course.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.