A young core of Bulldogs is supplemented by one outstanding senior, making the Hotchkiss boys' cross country team a potential force to be reckoned with.
The Bulldogs finished 10th in the team standings at the Delta Invitational last Friday at Confluence Park and are content to build a strong foundation that will hopefully peak at regionals and state.
"Overall as a team, we're in good shape," Bulldogs coach Kelly Cowan said. "I think four of our boys dropped over a minute this week. They were just much more relaxed and you're going to drop time when you relax. Good improvement for them."
Senior Andrew Oviedo posted a time of 21 minutes, 35.48 seconds at the meets but he had other things on his mind than just his finish time.
"It's a bittersweet moment. I'm happy I made it this far. I've put in four years and I'm glad to see the improvement. I think it shows," Oviedo said. "At the same time it's almost sad because this thing that has become a part of my life for the last four years is all of the sudden going to be done here in two months."
Oviedo is a natural leader and after a fast start at the Delta race he was mostly concerned about bringing the young Bulldogs squad along.
"I started out with some really good underclassmen runners from Hotchkiss, and I started out so fast to set a pace for them," Oviedo said. "One of my main motivations was to keep them going, to motivate them, to follow up those sophomores and freshmen that were passing me."
Junior Gabe Rodriguez posted the fastest time for the Bulldogs at 18:08.03 and finished 33rd overall. Sophomore Sam Rodriguez was right behind him at 18:21.37.
Junior Parker Katzdorn had a strong race and posted a time of 20:24.59.
"We have a lot of boys that are showing a lot of great potential," Oviedo said. "They're all showing great improvement. They have the drive that I really wish I had in my first couple years, that drive to get better constantly. We're on a good start. People are pushing themselves."
Hometown fans can catch a glimpse of the Bulldogs and Eagles at Saturday's cross country meet hosted by Hotchkiss.
"It's one of the more challenging courses around. It has a lot of tough hills," Cowan said.
The meet is at Hotchkiss High School. Festivities begin with an open race scheduled for 9 a.m. A $15 entry fee for that race includes a meet T-shirt.
One race for middle school runners begins at 9:45 a.m. The high school girls' race follows at 10:15 a.m., and the boys hit the course at 11 a.m. An awards presentation follows that event.