With no one to challenge her, Natalie Anderson of Hotchkiss opened her senior cross country season Friday by winning the 5,000-meter Delta Invitational cross country meet, with a time of 20 minutes, 5.9 seconds. It was the first Delta meet win for Anderson, who placed third her freshman and junior years, and second in 2012 to that year's 2A state champion.
"It's like a last-chance season," said Anderson. "You pressure yourself more than maybe you should."
About 20 seconds back, teammate Jennifer Celis was in a battle for second place with Mykayla Music of Delta. Music, along with runners from Grand Junction and Montrose, had led throughout the first half of the Confluence Park course before getting passed by Anderson. Music held off the Montrose and Grand Junction runners, and kept her sites on Anderson. But as she headed for the finish line, Celis caught her. Music was able to catch Celis about 30 feet from the finish, and both runners sprinted to a tie for second place.
The defending state 2A champions, Hotchkiss placed five runners in the top 20. Mae Anderson finished ninth (21:39), Sophia Schelle was 16th (22:05.10), and Katie Parsons, a sophomore who ran for the Hotchkiss track team her freshman year, finished 20th (22:21). "Everyone ran extremely strong. I was really impressed with them," said Anderson.
"You always have a few doubts, because it is the first meet," said Celis, who is also a senior. "But we've been working hard. I'm not really sure what we went in expecting. I think we're pretty happy."
Music was happy with her finish. She struggled with anemia her freshman year and finished only four races last season. "I was just like tired all the time," said Music, a sophomore.
Last spring she had improved and joined the Delta track team as a distance runner. She ran at state as a member of the 3200-meter relay team. Music continued to train last summer, maintaining a regimen that included 10-mile runs on Sunday.
"I expected her to be in the top five," said Delta coach JB Lopez, distance coach for the Panthers track team. Lopez had seen Music run in middle school. He expected "amazing things" from her freshman year. Now that she's healthy, "She's good," said Lopez. "I expect her to be right up there and make state."
Delta sophomore Kaylee Dunham finished 23rd with a time of 22:30.
Paonia senior Taylor Polson finished in 21:03 to place sixth. Chelsea Meilner finished 13th. Her time of 21:58 is more than a minute ahead of her 2012 pace at Delta. Senior Braiden Clement finished third for Paonia.
Greg Eccher of Grand Junction set a new meet record to win his second straight men's title at Delta, with a time of 16:18. Eccher was 51 seconds ahead of last year's winning time.
Andrew Tiedeman topped all other local runners. The second-year junior runner finished fourth with a time of 16:43.20, just one-tenth of a second off of third place.
Delta senior Dustin Ownbey finished sixth out of a field of 110 runners, with a time of 17:21.7.
Ownbey is almost 30 seconds ahead of last year's pace at Delta. "That's a big improvement," said Ownbey, who attended running camp and trained throughout the summer. "I'm right around where I thought I'd be."
Ownbey, who expected to place fifth, said weather — temperatures were in the low 90s — was a factor in his race. "You start hurting a lot sooner because of the heat," said Ownbey, adding that practices have been hot lately. "It definitely wasn't my best race. It was a bit off."
"He made state last year, he should do it again this year," said Lopez.
Teammate Wade Stinson finished 24th (18:56.6). Freddie Ramirez of Olathe finished seventh (17:43.20), and Taylor Dement was 13th (18:17.4).
Third-year Hotchkiss runner Tyrell Clock finished in 18:21 to place 15th. Clock said he expects to be a big contributor to the team and has his eye on state. His time is about what he expected, and, "... is what coach (Kelly Cowan) and I had for a goal," said Clock. "I'm really happy."
Returning state qualifier Jason Sturgis led the Paonia team with a 19th-place finish. Freshman Tim Helmer finished in 20:14.3 to place 40th, and in his first cross country race, junior Jesse Reed finished 43rd. Eli Etter, also a freshman, finished in 20:42.10.
Twenty teams competed at Friday's meet, including a team from Moab (Grand County), Utah.blog comments powered by Disqus