Photo by Wayne Crick A 13th place finish and personal best time has Jonathen Kinderknecht headed to state in cross country this weekend.A cool breeze greeted competitors and fans at last week's regional cross country meet in Delta. Athletes from 2A, 3A, and 4A boys and girls teams scooted around the fast Delta course.
Photo by Wayne Crick Junior Dustin Ownbey nears the finish line in last week’s cross country regionals. He was sixth and goes to state this weekend.See related stories for 2A competition. Both the boys and girls teams finished sixth for Delta High School.
Battle Mountain High School won the girls team race with 49 points. Durango, Summit, Eagle Valley and Montrose rounded out the top five teams. For the boys, Durango captured the team title with 40 points. The next four finishes went to Eagle Valley, Battle Mountain, Palisade and Montrose.
In the girls 4A race, as expected, Clarissa and Cleo Whiting finished in the top three to advance to this week's state meet in Colorado Springs on Oct. 27.
Dustin Ownbey turned in his best time of the year (16:42.41) to place sixth in the boys division. Ownbey was challenged by coach JB Lopez to run his best time in the regional or face staying at home. Run he did.
"I knew I had to get out fast. I don't like people passing me, so getting out fast was a key," stated Ownbey, a junior at Delta High School. "Once I got out front, I knew I was going to do well," stated Ownbey.
When asked his plans for state competition, Ownbey was optimistic. "As a freshman I finished 103rd. Anything can happen at state. I'm going to try and PR with a good place. I know I'll be in the top 100 but would really like to be in the top 50."
Teammate Jonathen Kinderknecht, a senior, had his personal best in three years with a time of 17:02.94. Both will compete in this week's state meet in Colorado Springs.
Kinderknecht had a simple answer when asked if he thought he could make the top 15 cutoff for this week's state meet. "I knew I could do it. I just kept to the workout schedule coach had set."
Kinderknecht has always liked running and tried out for the team three years ago and liked it. He had an injury last year and didn't compete. His plans for state include "staying with Dustin (Ownbey) for as long as I can."
Durango's Shannon Maloney was the girls individual race winner with her winning time of 18:10.60.
Clarissa Whiting finished in second place behind Maloney with a Delta school record time of 18:23.16. Cleo was third and also broke the old record with a time of 18:23.93. The old mark (18:30.8) had been set by Clarissa at the Anna Banana in Fruita. Cleo also broke the old record at that time with her 18:46.4.
Clarissa noted there were a lot more runners in this year's regional than she thought there would be. She also noted it was fast. A fast start kept Clarissa out front all the way but she let Maloney slip too far ahead to make a strong kick. Both Whitings remember Maloney in track a year ago where she was a premier 400m runner. There was no pressure for Clarissa after taking second place. Last year's regional winner finished behind her at state.
Photo by Wayne Crick Clarissa Whiting, right, and sister Cleo finish the 4A regional cross country race in Delta with a second and third place respectively. Both ran their personal bests, as did almost all the runners for Delta High School.As for Cleo, she understands her sister has had the upper hand in cross country and is her most avid supporter, and vice versa. They both train the same way and have the same drive to excel. At state there will be no calculating who will place where. Both sisters agree it's an all out effort from here on.
Cleo's recollection of the regional race included a group of five girls who stayed together the first mile. At the two-mile mark, the pack thinned out with the Whitings and Maloney out front.
So much has been written about the Whitings this past season. To try and add more to their legacy is foolish. They are truly ambassadors to the sport and are the epitome of sportsmanship and caring about their fellow runners. Both greeted and congratulated the rest of the field after they had finished their race.
Coach Lopez was pleased with his team's effort at the regional meet. "Nearly everyone had a personal best time at the meet," noted Lopez. The growth from the beginning to the end of the season was a rewarding part of Lopez's experience in 2012.