GYPSUM, Colo. — Battle Mountain cross country took home matching 2nd place plaques on Saturday at the Eagle Valley Invitational. More impressive, many of the Huskies ran times as fast or faster than at the Liberty Bell meet last week.
“I was talking to Coach Stevens before the race,” said head coach Rob Parish, “And I was thinking the course would be a little slow with the long grass, tight turns and some uneven ground, but everyone ripped.”
The Liberty Bell Invitational has its critics around the state because of its hard flat surface that leads to fast times.
“It’s a downhill road race,” said Stevens “It’s fun for the kids to all shoot for PRs, but can do a disservice to them when they start comparing times from the rest of the season.”
“We tried to drive that home, that you can’t compare courses because times change so much from our home meet to Delta or wherever. But it turns out the kids ran super fast here too.”
Indeed, 4 of the Husky boys that scored ran under 18 minutes, with 5th man Patrick Johnson running 18:40, just off the 18:30 lettering mark.
Franklin Reilly led the team with a 13th place finish and time of 17:35. Isaac Sotelo and Nathaniel Badger followed in 18th and 20th.
“Nate, Isaac and Franklin have all scored for us this year as our 4th or 5th guy and it was great to see them up there leading the team today,” said Parish, “We rested some guys who have been running hard since June and don’t need to race into shape. Those 3 didn’t need to race into shape, but we have such a strong guys team we wanted them to get some experience running the show and being the Huskies people were watching for in a race.”
In their Varsity debuts, sophomore James Moran and junior Patrick Johnson put up solid performances as well.
“James has had a great 1st season so far,” said coach Max Van Dyke, “He is still figuring out the training and race tactics, but he has already had so much success, we are excited to see where he can get to by the end of the season.”
“PJ had a little interruption in his training the last couple weeks, but his hard work on the bike and in the pool showed today. The whole team and coaching staff was excited for him to run his way back into the top group, which is where he was running all summer.”
Moran’s 22nd place finish along with Johnson’s 43rd were enough for the Huskies to finish in 2nd place with 111 points, just nipping out down valley rival Eagle Valley who finished 3rd with 118 points.
Max Grimaldi and Conner McCabe finished in 47th and 50th to round out the Huskies top 7.
Sotelo, Moran, Johnson and Grimaldi all ran faster than their Liberty Bell times.
Youth is served in the Girls Race
“After the guys went, I said to Stevens ‘Man maybe this course is fast after all. That or there was a grizzly bear on the loose during their race,’” said Parish.
The girls it turns out, were fast too.
At Saturday’s meet, only Palisade was missing from the league teams the Huskies will see at the end of October for Regionals in Delta.
The Battle Mountain girls handily beat everyone but Steamboat and were only 20 points back from the Sailors.
Freshman Lizzy Harding was the top finisher for the Huskies clocking a time of 20 minutes 10 seconds after a sprint finish battling Summit County’s McKenna Ramsay.
“McKenna is a senior and one of the best runners in the state,” said Parish, “For a freshman to be going toe to toe with her is outstanding.”
Coming next for the Huskies was Naomi Harding and Melissa Delgado, running 21:14 and 21:16 respectively.
“Both Naomi and Mel ran really smart races,” said Stevens, “Melissa was out in 14th place and finished the same spot. Naomi who was dealing a little bit of sickness, was out pretty conservatively,
The Bells, came in next. Anabel Johnson was 4th for the Huskies 23rd overall running 21:37 and joined by freshman Isabelle McMurrain in the top 25. McMurrain in her 2nd race ever ran 21:46 good for 25th place and the final scoring position for Battle Mountain.
Alondra Aguirre and Coco Spangler rounded out the top 7 in 35th and 44th places respectively, both running under 23 minutes.
“For the girls to have 5 in the top 25 while resting 6 other girls who have scored for us this year is amazing,” said the Van Dizzle, “It speaks to how hard our group worked in the off season. When kids get after it the way they did, they see success early in the season. Now the goal is to keep improving as we get closer and closer to the postseason.”
The girls matched the boys 2nd place finish, but had the low score of the day with 73 points to the boys 111.
On Friday, both the boys and girls head down to the Front Range to race the Dave Sanders Invitational hosted by Columbine High School.
“Columbine is going to be another opportunity to race some of the best teams in the state regardless of classification,