Huskies take fourth at state | VailDaily.com
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Huskies take fourth at state

Preston Utley/Vail DailyBattle Mountain's Jonny Stevens completes another lap during the boy 3,200-meter run at the 4A state meet Saturday in Lakewood. Stevens finished second with a time of 9 minutes, 30 seconds. The Huskies finished fourth at the meet, their best result since moving to 4A in 2000.
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LAKEWOOD, Colorado ” The Battle Mountain boys track and field team got a kick out of leaving Jeffco Stadium Friday, leading the 4A state meet after the first day.

So few events had been completed after Day 1, it was sort of a laughing matter that the Huskies were atop the leaderboard.

But by the end of the meet Saturday, Battle Mountain’s position was no joke. The Huskies took fourth with 43 points, only behind Longmont (78), Sierra (68) and Mullen (61).

“It’s amazing beyond words,” Battle Mountain’s John O’Neill said. “How incredible is it that we can place down on the Eastern Slope, bust out in a Front Range meet? We’re a small school in the Vail Valley.”

“When I heard we got fourth, I was so amazed,” the Huskies Tony Crisofulli said. “To go from 12th to fourth in one year is an amazing accomplishment.”

That’s not all, Tony. There have been several years when the Huskies have not even scored a point at the state meet. Battle Mountain’s previous bests at the 4A state meet had been 12th, 24th (twice) and 37th.

“That’s nuts,” said Jonny Stevens, who highlighted Saturday with a second-place finish in the 3,200 meters. “That’s a huge testament to all our coaches and all the work we as seniors put in for four years. We are sick of running through Eagle-Vail. It’s exciting to see it pay off.”

The usual suspects

Stevens, O’Neill and Crisofulli are excused from running to the Shop ‘n’ Hop today after another big day at state Saturday.

Stevens roared to silver in the 3,200 with a new school record at altitude of 9 minutes, 30 seconds. O’Neill, who ran the 3,200 in 9:16 earlier this year at sea level in California, was fourth in 9:47.

“It was fun,” Stevens said. “Both John and I both made a decision to go out there and try to win it. We went out with the pack and around lap No. 5, we started to fall off, but we finished strong.”

D’Evelyn’s Kevin Williams, who seems to be from another planet, won the race in 9:06.27, breaking his old 4A state-meet mark of 9:19.83.

Stevens finishes his career with seven state track medals among the numerous accolades he’s won during his four years at Battle Mountain. O’Neill finished what was his first year of track ” he had run cross country for four years ” with three medals to his credit.

“I was just trying to hang on,” O’Neill said. “I just attacked the whole time. My legs were spent after the 4-by-8 (relay) and the mile (on Friday).”

“John basically is a track freshman,” Huskies coach Rob Parish said. “He’s not necessarily a new runner because of cross country, but it’s incredible what he accomplished this year. I’ve said this before, but he will forever be the model of motivation for emerging runners. I will always refer to John who went from being a jogger, an-out-for-fun athlete to a Division I runner.”

Speaking of Division I-bound runners, Crisofulli added to his medal collection with fourth in the open 800 in a time of 1:57.2.

“I kept envisioning me and (Mullen’s Andrew) Berberick battling it out,” Crisofulli said. “It wasn’t just Berberick, though. Two other guys (Broomfield’s Ian Donaldson and Cherokee Trail’s Scott Ingram) kicked past me. But I know those guys had to run their best race to beat me.”

Combining Saturday’s performances with Crisofulli, Connor Tedstrom, Stevens and O’Neill winning the 3,200 relay, and it was a great weekend. Incidentally, Littleton won the 5A 4-by-8 in 7:57.17 Saturday, making Battle Mountain (7:52.9) the fastest 3,200 team in the state regardless of classification.

Cornerstones

The Huskies’ boys 800 team, with Todd Walker essentially running on one good leg because of a hip injury, still managed for finish ninth in the finals Saturday with a time of 1:31.6.

Seniors Ascher Robbins, Aaron Wilcox, Jackson Higgins and Walker all made their final appearance in Huskies’ gold in that race.

“Todd got the team to the finish on heart,” Parish said. “Those four seniors finished in a great way. They have been cornerstones of this program.”

In the girls 3,200, Kenzie Grant was 14th in 11:54, while Cecilia Garcia took 22nd with a time of 12:41.

Emotional day

While Battle Mountain will be graduating a bunch of seniors, Saturday was also Parish’s finale with the team. The coach announced early this spring that he is going to teach in Trieste, Italy, for the next two years.

While he wanted the focus to be on his athletes, he admitted that he had been thinking about the end of his tenure at Battle Mountain.

“I’ve had this discussion going on in my head for a while now,” Parish said. “It didn’t get to me until Tony ran (the 800). He made a play to win. It was a touching way for him to go out in his career. All the kids went out fighting, never backing down. This is not an easy sport. It was a tough day and next week may be tougher.”

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


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