Vail Valley preps: Battle Mountain, Eagle Valley XC ready for regionals
The cross country season all comes down to Saturday.
Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley, along with Delta, Durango, Glenwood Springs, Moffat County Montezuma-Cortez, Montrose, Palisade, Steamboat Springs and Summit County, meet down in Cortez. The boys go at 11 a.m., and the girls at 12:30 p.m.
If all 11 regional schools have full teams, the top four teams qualify for state as well as the top 15 individuals.
Here are the answers to five questions about cross country regionals:
Welcome to regional cross country running sites by alphabet. Last year, Moffat County hosted, which might sound strange to Devils and Huskies runners who could have sworn they ran at Aspen last year.
That was not illusion. The host school can have its meet anywhere it wants and the Bulldogs “hosted” at Aspen. Since Montezuma-Cortez is the next school alphabetically, welcome to the Four Corners region, people.
This is a rare regional meet where the Devils and Huskies have not run the course. Both squads ran in the regular season meet in Aspen. They both know Delta, the 2008 site, like the back of their hand. Cortez? That would be a no.
Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley are leaving early Friday and both coaches confirmed that their teams will be getting on the course that afternoon to scout the route.
Both Battle Mountain coach Ken Long and Eagle Valley coach Melinda Brandt think the course has elevation change, which is good news for both teams, which train on similar terrain.
Long said that based on the results of a meet two weeks ago down there, he expects times to be about a minute slower than usual.
For the trivially-inclined, Montrose hosts in 2011, and the Huskies are on the clock in 2015 and the Devils in 2018. Please mark your calendars accordingly.
Regional champs in the house?
That would be the goal for the Huskies’ David Shearon and Amelia Ortiz.
Shearon continues his battle with Moffat’s Chris Zirkle and Alfredo Lebron. While cross country is seemingly an individual sport, teamwork gets involved here. Zirkle and Lebron have worked all season against Shearon – this is totally fair play; knee-capping the Battle Mountain senior, however, is strictly against CHSAA rules.
How does Shearon respond?
“He’s been up against them all year,” Long said. “He’s tired of them beating him. David’s amped. He’s been running quick times. We’ll need to look at the course on Friday. It depends on what the course looks like, but we’ll be planning.”
For the ladies, it appears to be a duel between Ortiz and Moffat’s Maddy Jourgensen. Ortiz has won the last two times the two went head-to-head earlier this season. That said, Jourgensen’s been running well in the last few weeks. This is not to say Ortiz hasn’t, but everyone’s watching everyone’s results on the Internet. This should be tight.
What’s the team field look like?
This is where that Internet thing – thank you, Al Gore – becomes interesting. Milesplit.com is a favorite of the Huskies and Devils. It has every meet known to humanity, as well as a simulator. If one were to enter all 11 teams in the Slope region for a virtual meet, the site would tell you that both the Eagle Valley boys and girls would finish eighth.
That would be some good motivation in Gypsum.
“I don’t think anyone expects anything of us, but we expect good things,” Brandt said. “I think we’re going to come in and surprise some people. I think we”re in a situation where we have nothing to lose.”
The 2010 regional teams for Eagle Valley are Nikki Cunning, Kira Quintana, Kelly Cassidy, Logan Kinser, Samantha Maddox, Taylor Claydon and Meghan Muehlethaler and Gregg Salaz, Caleb Krueger, Hunter Burnham, Ben Muehlethaler, Aaron Kline, Chris Purse and Tyler Keegan.
The Battle Mountain boys, barring something bizarre, like all seven of them tying their shoelaces together and trying to run as a centipede, are likely to be in the top four and state-bound. Shearon, Mitch Walker, David Suarez, Remsen Allard, Charlie Barry, Mike Ball and Aleksei Horn are solid bunch.
The question is how will the Huskies girls do? Ortiz is Ortiz and freshman Sydney Gaylord has exploded onto the scene. Going back to the motif of cross country as a team sport, can Mandy Ortiz, Maddie Stevens, Val Rivero, Pearl Nanin, Jenai Bernado lower their times and run in a back to push other teams’ runner back in the stands.
Durango and Moffat County are the favorites on the girls’ side, but that leaves two team spots.
Who cracks the top 15?
If you do, you’re headed to state. If the Battle Mountain girls don’t qualify as a team, Ortiz probably will. She’s made state the last three years as an individual. Can Gaylord become the first female freshman since, well, Ortiz to qualify from Battle Mountain?
There’s greater drama here for Eagle Valley. The school has never sent any of its ladies to state. By Brandt’s estimates, both Cunning and Quintana are on the bubble here. Salaz is in the same situation on the boys’ side and Krueger has been getting better every week.
“I’d like to say we’ll have a few kids running at state,” Brandt said. “It’s going to be a heck of a race.”
What else can happen?
Just about anything. For starters there’s the start. With 100 racers going off at the same time, runners can fall or get accidentally elbowed, and that can change the complexion of the competition.
There’s weather. Rain is in the forecast for Friday and Saturday down in Cortez. There’s also an athlete having a career day.
One thing’s certain in all these questions – it won’t be dull.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or email@example.com.