Huskies make a bee-line for the podium at Beaver Creek
BEAVER CREEK, Colorado – Saturday was finally a home meet for Battle Mountain cross country.
The Huskies had trained on the course. They knew every turn, every slope.
And then, the course changed completely.
“We were ready for snow. We were ready for rain,” Battle Mountain coach Ken Long said. “We were not ready for bees.”
During the citizen’s race before the high school teams took to Beaver Creek, bees started buzzing all over a portion of the singletrack that opened the start of the course.
D’oh. And we’ll just let you have your “Simpsons” moment where Homer talks about the dogs and the killer bees.
Despite an impromptu course change because of said bees, the Huskies made themselves feel at home as both the girls and boys outpaced the field for team wins. Amelia Ortiz won the girls’ race, while David Shearon topped the boys’ field. That was the second time this year that the Huskies’ dynamic duo won on the same day this season.
“It was awesome to run in your home meet and it was even cooler to win the home meet as a team,” Shearon said. “All of the community was out and helped us out. It was a great day.”
This just in – the Ortiz family knows how to run. Amelia won the race, while her sister Mandy was the Huskies No. 2 in sixth place. And Mom, Anita, who we think has some running experience, won the women’s citizen’s race.
“It’s neat to have the whole family out there running well,” Amelia said.
The Huskies were running well, too. Anya Kurronen took eighth and Sam Engle punched in at 10th. Since there were smaller schools at the meet, organizers agreed that the top-four runners would score. But that left both Battle Mountain and Middle Park tied at 25 points. Enter runner No. 5 – Gina Lovell – whose 12th-place finish broke the tie, giving the Huskies the team title.
“(Gina) was the hero. It was great. She came right behind (Middle Park’s) fourth runner,” Long said. “It was great for the girls to get the win.
“The girls don’t have the experience that the boys do, so this is really a testament to how hard they are working in practice. That was huge for their confidence. You should have seen the looks on their faces. This was the happiest day of the season, and they’re going to go on and get better.”
The more the merrier
The boys had an unexpected guest, Delta. The Panthers were not expected, but they showed up, so why not?
The Huskies had a measly 17 points – lower is better in cross country – topping Steamboat (24) and Delta (37)
Shearon led the way, followed by Mitch Walker (second), Remsen Allard (sixth), Eric Gallagher (eighth) and Eric Spry (10th).
“It felt pretty good,” Shearon said. “We were not dying with the air. Some of the Steamboat kids were struggling a little bit with (the altitude). We didn’t have any trouble at all.”
Change of plans
Battle Mountain had held practice once per week at Beaver Creek to run their “home course,” two loops around Haymeadow. But when the bees decided otherwise Saturday, the Huskies adapted well.
“It was still a really hard course. It was good that I could push through it,” Ortiz said. “At first, we were kind of upset. After it changed, Coach said it would be pretty close to the elevation gain of the other course.”
Since the guys ran first, Shearon said that there really wasn’t much time to think about the course change, and it didn’t seem to affect Battle Mountain’s performance.
Either way, there was powerful incentive to get to the finish line, the site a bake-sale fundraiser for the team.
“Those brownies were good,” Shearon said “I polished off my fair share. I was just helping out, taking one for the team.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or email@example.com.