The latest race for Moffat County High School cross-country was no less important than any other in terms of testing Bulldog distance runners, but it could prove especially crucial as the season continues.
MCHS boys placed second and girls fourth during Friday’s Coal Ridge Invitational. The New Castle event was a new experience for all the runners, but an important one.
The Titans will have another race coming up near the end of the season, namely the 3A Region 1 Meet on Oct. 23 that will serve as a qualifier for the state championships.
The layout of the course let the Bulldogs know what they can expect next month.
“We’ve never ran that one before. At first it was really flat, then started downhill and gradually got uphill. You had to do two laps, so that was weird,” said MoCo junior Boden Reidhead.
Hayden senior Kale Johnson placed third among 53 boys in the varsity race with his best time of the season: 17:57.2, which brings him closer to the 17:31 he set as a sophomore.
Sophomore Owen Gifford took sixth with a personal best of 18:28.9, while Reidhead took 15th at 19:29.5 and fellow junior Ian Trevenen 18th at 19:32.3.
Rounding out the boys varsity race for the Bulldogs were junior Forrest Siminoe and senior Alex Nichols in 28th and 30th.
MCHS did not have enough boys in the JV race to field a full team, though Garrett Mercer placed fifth, Travis LeFevre 13th, and Chase Serio 15th.
MCHS girls took third in the JV race with a bundle of newer runners, including Marta Pelanconi in ninth, Alyssa LeWarne 17th, Natalia Lopez 23rd, Hannah Kilpatrick 27th, and Danaka Miller 33rd.
As for the varsity girls, seniors Emma Jones, Halle Hamilton and Bree Meats again finished in succession, with each, placing sixth, seventh, and eighth, respectively.
With times of 20:46.3 and 20:54.1, Jones and Hamilton are both nearing PRs they set in previous years, while Meats was pleased to exceed her own best at Coal Ridge with a finish of 20:58.6.
Sophomores Brook Wheeler and Joslyn Bacon also brought their best times down significantly, placing 35th and 37th with results of 23:56.2 and 23:56.9.
MCHS cross-country will next go further from home to Lyons’ St. Vrain Invite on Sept. 18 before hosting the Bulldog Invite on Sept. 25 at Loudy-Simpson Park, the first of two races run in Craig.
Besides Coal Ridge’s meet giving them an idea of what to expect at regionals, Meats said the race allowed her and her fellow seniors to keep perfecting the strategy of running in close quarters.
“It was a really good day for us,” she said. “I think the three of us are doing really well running as a pack and sticking together. We’re just looking to run some good races in our senior year and appreciate it.”