Huskies off to Delta for regionals |

Huskies off to Delta for regionals

Shane Macomber/Vail DailyThe Battle Mountain cross country team, minus Erika Ghent in this picture, are poised for regionals Saturday in Delta.

EAGLE-VAIL – Cue the music of “Mission Impossible/”Duh-duh-DUH-DA …”Battle Mountain cross country, your mission is to qualify both of your teams to state for the first time ever. This will require the boys to run in times of 17 minutes or less. The girls must fly in the 20s or less. This recording will self-destruct in 30 seconds.”Actually, it isn’t an impossible mission for the Huskies as they head to regionals at Delta Saturday. After a very successful regular season, the Huskies are poised to do just that.”The athletes are extremely excited. They’re bursting with energy,” Huskies coach Rob Parish said. “They’ve got so much energy. They realize they have the potential to do something that Battle Mountain has never done before. They’ve run well for the entire season, but they are in the right frame of mind. They are ready to run better than they ever had before.”The Huskies have qualified just once as a team and that was when Kelly Smith, Arwyn Becker, Natalie Golden and Catherine Himmes finished fourth in state in 3A way back in 1999. Now, Battle Mountain has the depth to do it on both sides.

“It think it’s great because it shows that we have a lot of depth and a lot of strength on our girls team because one person’s not dominating all the time,” said Jessica Medsker, one of four Huskies girls runners to lead the team this season. “It’s good for all of us to be able to push each other throughout the season.Tapering and the courseThe Huskies are taking it easy. By easy, that means they’re running only about four miles a day the last two weeks. During a typical week before tapering, the boys will run 50 miles a week in practice, while the girls run 40.”In years past, for both track and cross country, we’ve been very excited for this race,” Parish said. “We’ve gotten up for this race. I think the team has stressed maybe too much. So, as well as being focused for this race, the team’s enjoying this week and relishing the extra rest and relishing being in good shape.”The Huskies certainly know the course in Delta. They ran it last year’s regionals , when the girls just missed state by five points, while the boys finished seventh. They ran it again this year in the second race of the season.It is most unlike upon which the terrain the mountain oriented Huskies usually run.

“We’re really excited,” Zach Erickson said. “We know the course really well since we ran it for regionals last year. We ran it for our second race this season. It’s flat. It’s really fast.”Flat and fast. Since the Battle Mountain Invitational at very hilly Beaver Creek earlier this month, the Huskies have been training the flats in anticipation of the lack of elevation change and faster times.They also have a strategy for when to make their move. “As a team, we’re going getting to mile two in good position and then at mile two, every runner is going to put in a surge,” Parish said. “That’s traditionally where, not only our team, but all runners back off a little bit. We’re going to get to that mile-two mark and put in a surge no matter how we’re feeling.”Depth and the competition

The Huskies are deep. The girls boast Erika Ghent, Molly McGee, Jessica Medsker, Leslie Peterson, Christa Ghent, Marit Johnson and Briton Bock. For the guys, it’s Grant Stevenson, Ben Rogers, Irepan Sanchez, Zach Erickson, Jonathan Stevens, Andy Given and Ryan Walker.The boys start at 10:30 a.m., while the girls go at 11:30 a.m.They’ll both be up against Moffat County as the Bulldogs are the favorite. With four team spots open in the region for state, the Huskies will also be battling Montrose and Steamboat Springs.”I know for the girls team, we have girls we’re aiming to beat in the race,” Medsker said. “We know who they are. We know which girls we’re trying to beat and so we’re going to go after it, try our hardest and try to beat them.””We’re all counting on each other for placing,” Erickson said. “It’s all about the points. It would be awesome. I know we can do and we’re just going to run.”Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext. 614 or Colorado

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