Mae Anderson didn't expect to qualify for state cross country as an individual her freshman year. Running for Hotchkiss, the top-ranked 2A team in the state, she knew the team would qualify.
But she also knew only the top 15 finishers qualify as individuals.
Last Wednesday, Anderson finished the 5,000-meter course at Confluence Park in Delta in 20 minutes, 26.36 seconds to place sixth. "It really surprised me that I'm doing so well," said Anderson. "I just went out and ran."
Anderson started running in third grade with the Girls on the Run program. She ran "mostly because Nat was running, so I wanted to run."
"Nat" is Anderson's older sister Natalie Anderson.
For those just joining in, Nat is a junior and has finished in the top five the past two years. "I've never had a running partner, so when I wanted to run I'd take her out with me," said Nat. "It got to the point where she'd hide behind the couch. She wouldn't want to come with me and I'd just keep dragging her out."
She placed third Wednesday with a time of 19:21.4, and is ranked third heading into state.
Anderson said she likes having her sister out on the course. "I wonder occasionally where she is. I wonder if she's pushing herself... because eventually I'd like her to be right up there with me."
Junior Jenni Celis finished fourth, Sophia Schelle was eighth and Tiffany Clock ran a career-best time of 21:06.26 to place 11th.
Hotchkiss claimed the team title with 13 points.
With three years' experience, Anderson and Celis won't take their top ranking for granted. Hotchkiss won the 3A regional meet two years ago, and last year were favored to win, but barely qualified after placing third. "We really wanted to push our hardest this year, because last year... we relied too much on getting a free pass to state," said Celis.
The course is "pretty hilly," said Anderson, but that's perfect, since they train on the steep dobie desert hills.
Head coach Kelly Cowan "told us recently that all the hay's in the barn," said Anderson, "so now it's just keeping it there, maintaining and mentally preparing."
Cody Bartlett, Andrew Tiedemann and Kurt Katzdorn placed in the top 15 at Wednesday's Class 2A western slope cross country meet, earning 24 points to place second behind Telluride.
Tyrell Clock ran a personal best time of 18:11.9 to place 20th, and Bryce Homme was the fifth state qualifier for Hotchkiss, edging out teammate Taylor Schreiner down the stretch to place 26th.
Bartlett was hoping to break his personal record, but fell 4 seconds short, possibly due to a strong headwind that dogged runners as they circled the lake. That was aggravating for the senior, who is known for his strong kick. But his time of 16 minutes, 25.02 seconds earned him a second- place finish in 2A Region 4 western slope competition behind William Scoggins of Rangely.
Bartlett gained 9 seconds on Scoggins, who has dogged him even during track season. He enters state ranked fourth.
Because the state course at Colorado Springs is "pretty slow," Bartlett doesn't expect to break his own record. But, he said, "I think my best run of the season is still ahead."
The Hotchkiss boys are ranked fourth as a team with a combined 150 points.
Crested Butte, which placed third in Delta with 32 points, is ranked third.
"It's going to be a close one," said Bartlett.blog comments powered by Disqus