Eighteen out of 20. That is how many times Battle Mountain Cross Country has sent teams to the state meet in the last 10 years.
“It’s a testament to the program and how many kids and families have bought into the program.” says Huskies Coach Rob Parish. “It is a remarkable thing because each year there are more than 50 4a teams on the boys and girls side that don’t make it, including 7 from our region.”
In fact, Battle Mountain had one of the best records when it comes to postseason meets. They rank up with perennial state title contenders Thompson Valley, Niwot and Cheyenne Mountain when it comes to qualifying for the meet. This Friday, Oct. 17, the Huskies will attempt to continue that trend at the Region 6 Championship meet in Delta.
While the top four teams from the region will make the meet, the Huskies are aiming a bit higher. The Battle Mountain ladies are 3-time defending regional champs and look to become the first ever girl’s team to win 4 Regional titles in a row (the BMHS boys claimed a 4-peat 2005-2008 during a run that included two state championships).
“The girls team enters the meet as the favorites on paper, but it’s going to be a battle the whole way. Steamboat has a very strong scoring five and there are some very strong individuals in our region” says Parish. “Durango, Summit and Eagle Valley are always ready to run at this meet, so our girls can’t be looking ahead to next week. First thing is first, we have to qualify. The veterans on the team will help everyone dial in for Friday.”
Those experienced runners include Rohanabel (Rychelle Denardo, Hannah Gaylord, Anabel Johnson), who were all scorers on last year’s Region Champion team, as well as Megan Rossman, Melissa Delgado and team co-captain Izze Calabrese. The veteran presence will serve the team well because in addition to those six upper classmen there is a strong contingent of freshmen girls racing for the Huskies. Kaela Fahrney, Alex Raichart and Elizabeth Constien have all put up some of the top times on the team this year.
“It is an exciting group because all nine girls racing have a chance of being in the scoring five. It’s a different type of team compared to last year since we don’t have a clear low stick like Val (Contstien), but it is such a deep team they will be hard to beat if everyone is firing on all cylinders.”
The Battle Mountain boys have a tougher road to a region title. Durango enters as the heavy favorite after putting up some impressive performances throughout the season in Colorado and out of state.
“The virtual meet is a little skewed because most of Durango’s times come from a race they did in Arizona at low elevation,” says assistant coach Jonny Stevens.
For the uninitiated (or 95 percent of people who are not huge cross country nerds), Milesplit.com hosts virtual meets where coaches and fans can take the season best performances and use them to score a “meet.” It is a useful tool for the people who enjoy breaking down cross-country races by the numbers. The Battle Mountain teams fit that description well.
“Durango’s times are a little skewed, but they beat our guys handily at the Pre-State meet, and the strength of their team is definitely apparent in their 1 through 5 split,” says Stevens.
“Their team has had races where they have only 30-seconds between their scoring five. Our guys have a good pack as well, but the challenge will be having Cameron (Moore) or Alexis (Aguirre) be near or ahead the Durango 1 and 2 and then our 3, 4, 5 breaking up their pack.
“It’s a tall order. Durango has been one of the top-ranked teams in the state all year, but there is a reason we run the race. Virtual meets are fun, but Parish had proven time and again that Battle Mountain teams are capable of pulling out big races when it matters.”
Cameron Moore has been putting down big performances all year, including 16:04 at the Liberty Bell Invitational in Littleton. If he can replicate that time this Friday, the rest of the Husky team will be in a good spot to close on the strong Demon team.
The rest of the Battle Mountain scorers this year — Alexis Aguirre, Josh Braun, Ethan Pence and Ricky Arreola — have all been consistent as well.
“Cameron has led the team in all but one of the races and the next four guys have switched positions from race to race. We can all count on them to put up a strong showing. That will be where the guys will be able to gain a lot of points.” Parish says.
“The team is an experienced bunch of guys (all five scored at the regional meet last year) and Ty Willoughby and Jake Borel have had top seven times all year. The team has looked great in the workouts the last two weeks, so we think they will be ready to go come Friday.”
Franklin Riley and Nathaniel Badger will round out the nine Huskies running Friday.
Both the girls and boys Husky teams have been ranked in the top 10 4a teams for Colorado the entire season and will look to qualify for the state meet and a chance to back those rankings up this Friday in Delta.