More honors for Huskies harriers
EAGLE-VAIL – Battle Mountain cross country picked up trophies for two regional titles last month. Then the girls’ team brought home a state-championship trophy.And now more awards are on the way to fill the trophy case.Battle Mountain is the only team in 4A to have three all-staters – Jennifer Bowles, Erika Ghent and Jonny Stevens. The ladies have their top-five runners all on the all-league team as first team or honorable mention. The gents have four of five on their respective team.”It shows their depth and their strength,” said Huskies coach Rob Parish, who was shockingly upbeat about his team. “It’s fantastic. It’s great for us. It’s hard for the rest of the league when they look up and they see the five Battle Mountain (girls) runners in the top 10. It shows how we won our title as a group, not just individuals.”A transfer and a constantThe formula is simple for all-state – finish in the top 10 at the 4A state meet. Bowles was third and Ghent eighth for the girls, while Stevens was ninth for the boys.The girls’ team’s prospects for 2005 were already high before Bowles moved to Eagle County from Southern California. It’s safe to say that everyone associated with Huskies cross country is thrilled the Bowles family moved in.”Jen was the missing piece that helped get us over the top,” Parish said, “She just fit in well. Not only did she place well, but she bonded with the group. Just at the right time.”Early on, it wasn’t easy for Bowles. Home-schooled, she ran in California’s Division 4, essentially the equivalent of Colorado Class 2A, as an individual. But she has come to enjoy the team aspect of the cross country.
“At first, it was really hard adjusting, not like knowing all the courses and who your main competition was,” Bowles said. “But, it was a great experience at the end. It’s going to help me in college. I won’t know the races. I’ll have to keep on learning.”Bowles, who will attend Concordia College (Calif.) next year, ran a great race at Harrison High School last month, and was pretty sure she was in the top 10.”It’s really cool. It’s great. I kind of realized it after I crossed the line. I didn’t know what place I was,” Bowles said. “I knew there were only a couple of girls ahead of me. I thought, ‘Maybe.’ When Parish told Erika and the other girls, we were really excited.”Ghent joined her in all-state circles five spots later. It’s only appropriate that, as a senior, Ghent gets this honor for the second consecutive year, in addition to the title of regional champion.”It’s really cool. I never imagined it when I started cross country,” Ghent said. “It’s great that it happened. I was hoping it would because I was all-state last year, so it was definitely my goal.”Ghent has played the role of Miss October throughout her career. In September, you don’t hear a peep from her. When you turn your calendar over, she’s been lights out.She’s also been a constant in the program.”She has been absolutely crucial, not only in how well she runs and how well she places,” Parish said. “From her other sports and her family, she’s brought this standard of excellence and a level of expectation where she wanted to do so well and all the kids followed her.”A sophomore?
Until last year, Stevens has gotten most of his ink in the Vail Daily for his hockey. This year, Stevens showed he is a first-class runner.All-state as a sophomore? Watch out.”The sky is the limit for Jonny. He’s an incredible talent,” Parish said. “I think he knows that he has the talent, but what’s great is that he has the work ethic and the attitude to match it. He is ready and willing to do what it takes.”Only four seniors finished ahead of Stevens at the state meet. He was the second-fastest sophomore in all of 4A. Yet, all-state wasn’t a goal coming into the state meet.”I was excited about it. I’m still excited about it,” Stevens said. “We weren’t expecting that. We had our goal-setting meeting after regionals the week before states. Parish and I decided that I wanted to get top 20 to top 15. I was so excited when I got the card. None of us were expecting that.”Molly, Christa and LeslieNaturally, Ghent and Bowles easily snapped up all-league selections. Let’s not forget the rest of the ladies. Molly McGee was also all-league and younger Ghent, Christa, and Leslie Peterson were honorable mention.McGee has the most state experience with three appearances in as many years. The Vail Christian junior will likely become the first female to letter in cross country for all four years next year.Ghent has followed in her sister’s footsteps – and those are big ones – extremely well. She also leads the team in smiles by a large margin.
Peterson was key to the state win. Before the race, Parish said she was the X-factor. No problem. She hammered it after the two-mile mark and the title was secured.The guysStevens and Shea Phelan chalked up all-league awards. For the latter, it was only his first season running cross country. He ended up being the boys’ No. 2 runner.”Shea placed well for us, but he was a difference maker on this team in that he ran well and he included everybody,” Parish said. “He made them feel like a part of the group regardless of ability. That’s one of the reasons the guys did better this year than last year.”Jake Ball brought home honorable mention by emerging as one of the team’s rising stars. He and several others helped turn what was a rebuilding year into a 10th-place finish into state, the boys’ best finish ever.Ben Rogers also got honorable mention. Sparky, as he better known to his peers, is also the first male to letter in all four years in Battle Mountain cross country history.”Sparky did a great job. He was our first four-year letterman,” Parish said. “He did a great job of showing the younger guys the ropes and helping them with expectations as well as encouraging them.”The future
The Huskies boys’ team loses just two seniors to graduation, and should be quite a force next year. Ball, Jamie Fahrmeyer, John O’Neill, Lorenzo Macias and that Stevens kid all return, and will be complemented by a new crop of JV runners.The boys are ready to make a run.”We are so psyched. (At Summit), we had all the JV guys race,” Stevens said. “We looked around after that and said, ‘Jeez, we only have two seniors.’ It didn’t really dawn on us that more than half of our varsity team were sophomores. We could definitely be top five.”The girls will be hit hard by graduation, but as followers of Battle Mountain cross country know, they’ve heard this one before. Just go back to August when the boys were thought to be rebuilding.”I think it’s just going to keep growing,” Erika Ghent said. “We still have Molly and my sister and Marit (Johnson), who were on varsity. The girls who were on JV this year did really well. The JV team was undefeated. That’s got to be a good sign.”A sign, perhaps, that more awards are on the way in 2006.Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14630 or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado