Huskies harriers, er, penguins ready for regionals
At Battle Mountain, there are penguins who like to eat Mandarin oranges, oatmeal, pasta and lasagna.
Yes, Huskies cross country is getting ready for Saturday’s regional meet at Delta. The girls run at 10 a.m., followed by the boys at 10:45 a.m.
As for penguins and their eating habits, well, there is an explanation, which is logical, if you’re a cross-country runner.
The traditional moniker for a cross-country runner is a harrier, a rabbit, a fast animal, which makes sense. But, the Huskies have adopted the penguin because of a preseason incident.
“We had a camp at the beginning of the year and (Coach Rob) Parish stole a penguin ice-cream scoop from one of the teachers at the middle school and brought it along with us,” said Huskies harrier, er, penguin, Grant Stevenson.
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And, thus, we have the Huskies penguins. Now, if you’ve seen a penguin on land, you know that this is not a fast animal. The Huskies cross-country team has proven the opposite in 2003.
The Huskies enter regionals after another strong performance last week at Palisade. Super frosh Molly McGee led the girls with a time of 21 minutes, 19 seconds, good for ninth. Erika Ghent was 20th, clocking in at 22:22. Maddie McCaulley (23:23), Marit Johnson (23:55) and Whitney Allard (24:20) rounded out the Huskies’ top five.
On the boys’ side, Grant Stevenson took back Battle Mountain’s top spot from Ben Rogers with an 18:58. Rogers was second in 19:16, followed by Zach Erickson (19:19), Davis Gaul (19:50) and Andy Given (20:36).
Battle Mountain will send the above 10 runners as well as two additions on both sides – Sammy McCoy and Jennie Thorne for the girls and Jake Ball and Jonathon Kerby for the boys.
Of these four, the one to look for is Thorne, who was running very well early in the season, before shin splints sidelined her for the latter portion of the season.
“I’m a little bit nervous to see how I do, but I’m excited,” Thorne said. “I’ve been watching all the races and I’m excited to see how I do. It’s on the inside of the shin. It hurts, but it’s definitely getting better and I’m hoping that once I get in the race on Saturday, I’ll just be able to work my way out of it.”
The top five runners for each team will score for the Huskies in the team competition. The Huskies will need to finish in the top four as a team to advance to state in a field which includes Moffat, Glenwood, Rifle, Palisade, Delta, Cortez, Mullen, Montrose and Steamboat.
On the girls’ side, Mullen and Steamboat seem to be the teams to beat with the Huskies likely having to beat Moffat and Montrose to have a shot at going to Kent Denver. On the boys’ side, Moffat and Steamboat are the favorites and Battle Mountain will be fighting it out with Montrose and Mullen for one of the team spots.
The region will send 15 individuals. And, because of the nature of the course, a top-15 finish will require a low time.
“It’s completely flat,” Parish said. “There’s no terrain change at all. It’s super fast. We’ve been telling the kids all week about starting fast. Usually, they’ve gotten in the habit of starting a little bit slower and catching the athletes on the hills. So, they’re going to need to get out quickly.”
Parish and fellow coach Kelli Witter estimate that the individual qualifying times will be in the range of 19 minutes for the girls and 17 for the boys.
The Huskies have spent the last week tapering their training. And, then, there’s the matter of each individual’s personal preparation.
“I eat oatmeal and Mandarin oranges and just focus on the race. Interesting combination, I know,” Stevenson said. “It’s from Nordic season. That what James (Stevenson, BMHS ’01) ate, and that’s what I eat.”
Whatever works for you, Grant. McCaulley and Thorne and likely the rest of the team prefers the more traditional carbo-loading method of pasta or lasagna.
And, after that, there’s the matter of getting ready for the most important 20 minutes of the season.
“I’m excited for regionals and kind of nervous,” senior Maddie McCaulley said. “I haven’t been doing as well as I would have liked this year. You just have to get mentally into the race. You need to know you have to do your best. Today, you have to go out and do what you have to do.”
Chris Freud is the sports editor for the Vail Daily. Contact him at (970) 949-0555, ext. 614 or by e-mail at email@example.com.