Huskies harriers aim high in 2007 | VailDaily.com
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Huskies harriers aim high in 2007

BM x-country preview1 KA 8-24-07
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EAGLE-VAIL ” The Battle Mountain cross country’s season begins at Harrison High School in Colorado Springs with a race Thursday, and the Huskies expect to finish the season on the same course on Oct. 27.

Harrison is the site of the state meet, and Battle Mountain has made itself very comfortable in the Springs the last few years. The girls’ team won the state title in 2005, and the boys turned the trick last year.

And though modestly stated, the expectations are sky high at Battle Mountain for 2007. The boys’ team wants to keep the state trophy in Eagle-Vail, and the ladies are hoping for a spot in the top five come October.

“Everybody’s done a good job with expectations,” Huskies coach Rob Parish said. “The kids know it’s a different team and the expectation to do well. Both the guys and the girls in the top group have been getting after it all summer. We’re one of 70 teams in the state. No one’s going to give anything to them. They know they’ve done nothing at this point. They’re at square one.”

Square one

But being at square one with this much talent is definitely a nice place to be. The Battle Mountain boys beat Niwot, 156-203 ” lower is better in cross country ” at last year’s state meet, and lost only its No. 4 runner, Colt Nelson, to graduation.

“We’ve been thinking about the state championship since a lot of the guys started training in May,” senior Jon O’Neill said. “It’s our main thought. For every run we go out on, it’s training for state. I’m definitely thinking about it 24/7.”

Jonny Stevens, twice already an all-stater in his career, has been the team’s top runner, but happily has quite a bit of competition for that spot. Tony Crisofulli, Jamie Fahrmeyer, Mario Gonzalez, Ryan Walker and O’Neill are all returning state participants.

Toss in Charles Gladitsch, Connor Wallace, Andrew Hill, Griffin Turnipseed and Ryan Vlaaar among others, and the Huskies have depth and fierce competition for the seven varsity sports come race day.

The situation is similar on the girls’ side. Jessica Linder is back as are Cecilia Garcia, McKenzie Stevens, Jamie Lee Roberts, Heidi Sorenson and Kenzie Grant. Alexa Flowers, Amelia Ortiz, Olivia Fauland and Lauren Cerra make the ladies a fearsome bunch.

“Everybody’s working hard to get better,” Martin said. “You can say you’re the third runner on the team, but you still have to work hard because you have new runners who are working hard and want to get in that spot.”

While the official reporting date for the season was Aug. 13, Battle Mountain started optional workouts well before then. It doesn’t hurt to live at 8,000 feet either. Several Huskies have been competing in the Vail Mountain Trail Running Series.

That amounts to the top boys on the team amassing 40-70 miles per week in the offseason with the ladies running between 20-30.

“Starting Aug. 13, everybody’s working hard,” Parish said. “The time in the summer is when the kids can get an advantage. The kids have been fantastic about putting down the base.”

They’re also hitting the weights and the pool for conditioning workouts.

Challenges and goals

For the Huskies, only two meets really count ” regionals at Delta Oct. 20 and the aforementioned state meet a week later. Just as he has with the track team, Parish has set the schedule up to expose the Huskies to some of the top teams in the state.

The Huskies are keying on Thursday’s Harrison opener, the Liberty Bell on Sept. 14 and the Centerra Classic Oct. 6, not to mention their home meet Sept. 22.

After Centerra, the Huskies will likely peak in their training and start to taper.

The boys will enter Delta in October as the favorite in the region, but there’s another bit of business, they’d like to accomplish there, if not before that race ” Grant Stevenson’s school record of 16 minutes, 32 seconds.

“Watch out, Grant,” Parish said of one of his former runners.

It’s not a matter of if on this record, but when. Jonny Stevens came close last year. It would not be surprising if Stevens and several other Huskies go under 16:32.

“I remember my freshman year, we’d run a race, both varsity and JV together,” O’Neill said. “By the time I had finished, Grant Stevenson had already finished and was on his cool-down with his sweats on. Nothing against Grant, but that’s one of my goals.”

While the boys are chasing a repeat title, it would be unwise to overlook the ladies. The girls have finished fifth, first and seventh at the state meet in the last three years.

“The girls did so well at the end last year. They came on at the end, and I’m expecting this group to do the same thing,” Parish said. “There are some freshmen who are going to get the hang of it and do well. There’s a great nucleus of seniors with Cecilia, McKenzie and Jamie and Heidi and Kenzie. They have a very good chance of doing well at regionals and getting to the state meet and improving on last year.”

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or cfreud@vaildaily.com.


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