Area runners made an impressive showing at Wednesday's Western Slope regional cross country races at Confluence Park in Delta. KVNF’s Tamie Meck has this report.
Three of four North Fork teams qualified for this year's 2A state cross country meet. Hotchkiss juniors Natalie Anderson and Jenni Celis lead the team to a first-place finish, placing third and fourth, respectively. Mae Anderson was sixth, Sophia Schelle 8th and Tiffany Clock finished 11th.
The girls team is on the brink of its first state championship. But after entering regionals ranked first last season and finishing third, Anderson says they’re not taking anything for granted.
We've been picked to win it all three years, but this time we actually followed through. Last year we were supposed to win it and we barely made it out of regionals.
The Hotchkiss boys team finished in second place behind Telluride, with Cody Bartlett placing second and Andrew Tiedemann placing 8th. Kurt Katzdorn, Ty Clock and Bryce Homme will also represent the Bulldogs at state.
As a first-year team, Paonia set out at the beginning of the season to do their best, but with no great expectations. But on Wednesday they proved themselves to be contenders. With three runners in the top 10, including a fifth-place finish by Taylor Polson, the Paonia girls finished in a tie for second place with Telluride. Eagles Chelsy Reed and Chelsea Meilner slipped past runners in the final 800 yards of the race for the tie. Mandy Bushta's 18th-place finish broke the tie, much to her surprise. Bushta says she joined the team to stay in shape for basketball and wasn't expecting to qualify.
I was just expecting to have fun this season and enjoy it, but it's awesome that we're going to state. I'm excited.
Telluride's Rachel Hampton beat Crested Butte Community School's Amber Scott to win the girls division in 18 minutes, 48 seconds.
Jason Sturgis finished ninth and will be the only Paonia male to represent the boys team at state. Despite a strong headwind, Sturgis ran the best race of his career. The junior says he feels good heading into state competition, where he's ranked in the top 20.
Yeah, I feel pretty at how I finished. I mean I did my best, so I feel very confident in what I did. I'll just have to go up from here, I hope.
Running for Delta, Dustin Ownbey placed seventh and Jonathon Kinderknecht finished 13th to qualify for the 4A boys meet.
On the girls team, Delta twins Clarissa and Cleo Whiting also qualified for state. The twins have dominated virtually every meet this season, after working out a system where they decided which one would win prior to each race. But Cleo explains that on Wednesday, they took a different approach.
We've decided from now on that we race our own race, that it's not really divvying it up anymore. It's if you're gonna win, you just have to be faster and that's it. There's no more, 'well, you can win today.' We're gonna race it out from now on.
The Whitings broke away from the pack at about the two-mile mark. They shadowed Durango's Shannon Maloney throughout the remainder of the course, with Clarissa finishing second overall, and three-quarters of a second ahead of Cleo. Despite focusing on the finish line, Clarissa knew Cleo was on her heels.
I was hoping she might try to get right next to me because I knew that she was doing what she wanted. She did great. We had no pressure on who was going to beat who, and that was actually the best thing we could have done.
And Clarissa says they’ll keep that same attitude at the state competition.
I think that at state we're going to run our own race, because we're so close to each other anyway. We're just going to see what happens and go out with a bang.
State competition is coming up on October 27th, at Colorado Springs.
Football action continues, with Norwood and Dove Creek battling for first place in the 8-man Western Slope League tonight at Dove Creek High School. Eight-man playoffs begin next week.
Montrose hosts Grand Junction at 7 tonight. And the annual North Fork Bowl conference game between Paonia and Hotchkiss will begin at 7 at Paonia Town Park.