Huskies harriers 2-for-2 at regionals
PALISADE – As of 10 a.m. Saturday, Battle Mountain cross country had never won a regional title. A few hours later, the program had two championships.On a sun-soaked Saturday, Huskies cross country made history as the girls obliterated the field, while the boys had a dramatic one-point victory over Montrose, sending both teams to next weekend’s state meet on a soaring high.The girls scored a wonderfully measly 28 points, scorching Summit (79), Glenwood Springs (87) and Moffat County (100). The boys made it a little more exciting with 51 points, just ahead of Montrose (52), Moffat (62) and Steamboat Springs (91).After the race, it was sheer jubilation for the Huskies.”The entire team is just ecstatic,” coach Rob Parish said. “The entire team is thrilled with their performance. We’re having a hard time putting words to it. Three years ago, both the boys and girls were last in the region. A lot of these kids and parents were around for it. To sweep the boys’ and girls’ titles is something we never even knew was possible.””It’s awesome,” said Erika Ghent, who also won Battle Mountain’s first individual-regional title, finishing first with a time of 19 minutes, 33 seconds. “The guys deserve it so much. It was a great atmosphere after the race.”As for those guys, it was a dicey 10-15 minutes before they knew the final result.
“We were freaking out,” Jonny Stevens said.And it didn’t help that Parish was playing a bit of a prank on the boys when he gave them the news.”Parish come up to us and says, ‘Next time during a race, when I tell you you have to take somebody, you’ve gotta take that guy now,'” Stevens said. “‘The score is Montrose at 52.’ and then he paused and said, ‘We’re at 51.” He started smiling and he hasn’t stopped since.”‘Pack of black’To say that the girls’ team put on a command performance doesn’t do these ladies justice. The girls finished first (Ghent), second (Jen Bowles, 19:41), sixth (Molly McGee, 20:37), eighth (Christa Ghent, 20:38) and 11th (Leslie Peterson, 21:13). Even the non-scorers cracked the top 20 with Whitney Allard 17th (21:42) and Marit Johnson 20th (21:56).”The girls have been running strong and running confident all year and they were absolutely dominant today,” Parish said. “They just put it all out there. Everyone of them had a great race. There was literally pack of black leading the charge.”
“I think we knew we could do it,” Ghent said. “It was just a matter of doing it. I think everyone worked really hard today and it was just awesome.”Ghent and Bowles led the way. They went out with two other runners. The two Huskies were definitely feeding off each other.”It was great,” Bowles said. “The first mile-and-a-half it was very relaxed. It was great following the other girls and talking to Erika. We were both like, ‘Should we go now?'”The answer to that question came at the two-mile mark.”Erika and Jen ran tactically flawless races,” Parish said. “There was a pack of four (runners). At the two-mile mark, they absolutely dropped the hammer and immediately distanced themselves. The surge was so strong that the other two girls didn’t know what hit them. They were gone.”‘Hero of the day’
While the girls cruised, every individual battle counted for the boys. If one member of the boys’ team finished behind a Montrose runner, the result would have been reversed.The Huskies won every battle.Stevens, who finished third in 17:22, got his man. Shea Phelan, ninth in 17:44, held off his runner. Ben Rogers (12th, 17:59) and Jamie Fahrmayer (16th, 18:13) got the job done.Then, there was Jake Ball. He hit the dirt early in the race.”I was going at a Montrose guy and I hit my foot and I kind of rolled,” Ball said. “But I got back up and got going. I was frustrated for a little while, but then just tried come back so that we didn’t lose it.”Ball not only avoided defeat, but he was likely the deciding factor in victory.”Jake Ball is the hero of the day. He, after about 200 meters, he was making a move on the right and he tripped,” Parish said. “He totally crashed. He took a digger. Jake got up and maintained his composure. He could have easily bagged it in. But he steadily moved up to where he was and moved up even higher and that was the difference.”
Had Battle Mountain and Montrose tied, it would have gone down to both teams’ sixth runner. That would have been fine because Battle Mountain’s Ryan Walker in 20th at 18:25 also beat his Montrose counterpart. John O’Neill, back in action after a two-week layoff due to injury, finished 40th with a time of 19:42.”We pushed where we had to,” Stevens said. “We probably could have run better than we did, but we raced the most intelligently.”Both teams are at the state meet Saturday at Harrison High School in Colorado Springs. Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext. 614 or via email@example.com.Vail, Colorado