Chelsy Reed likes to race at Confluence Park in Delta. "With this course you can see pretty much everyone," she said.
At last week's 2A Region 4 meet, Reed kept her eye on teammate Taylor Polson. "Just keep Taylor in your sights. That's pretty much what I did the whole race."
Polson finished fifth in 20 minutes, 9.11 seconds, and Reed finished seventh with a time of 20:41.75 seconds, and Chelsea Meilner ran her best time of the season to place 10th.
Paonia finished with 22 points and in a two-way tie for second place with Telluride. Mandy Bushta's 18th-place finish broke the tie, and Braiden Clement finished 19th.
For Reed, a four-year cross country runner who was celebrating her 18th birthday, it was the best race of her career. But more importantly, it means she will finish her career at state. "It's just another experience with my team and I love my team."
"The girls ran well," said head coach Richard Hypio, who credited last-minute passes by Reed and Meilner for the second-place finish.
Bushta didn't expect to qualify. "No, not at all," said the senior, who joined the first-year team to stay in shape for the upcoming basketball season. She hadn't run a distance race since middle school. "I was just expecting to just have fun this season and enjoy it, but it's awesome that we're going to state. So I'm excited."
The Paonia boys finished in seventh place with 57 points. Paonia's best runner, Jason Sturgis, was ranked ninth going into the race. He finished ninth with a career-best time of 17:20.67 and qualified for state.
"I started out faster than usual, I think," said the junior, who qualified twice for state while running for Hotchkiss.
Sturgis said he stayed within sight of the lead pack, and, despite his fast start, pushed through the last two miles. As he neared the finish, he dug deep for one last kick. "I said I just gotta go, so I caught a good couple of guys there that last 200 meters."
The strong winds may have contributed to his record time, he said. "It definitely made me want to push harder."
In the final race of his career, senior Jacob Helleckson set a personal record of 18:26.72 to finish 21st. Senior Ethan Ferguson was 28th, and freshman Austin Katzer set a personal record to place 37th.
"I really hoped Jacob would make it. I really hoped the team would make it," said Hypio. "But they all ran well. Everybody ran as well as they could. They all ran a season best."
The state meet will be held at the Cheyenne Mountain Stampede course in Colorado Springs. It's a hilly course with a lot of steep climbs and a creek crossing, said Hypio, who after seeing a YouTube video of it imagines it to be much like Aspen's course, but at a lower elevation. "That will help us," said Hypio. "The kids are used to this kind of running."
For those interested, an 11-minute video of the state race course can be viewed at http://www.youtubewatch?v=59lKhTNZVho.blog comments powered by Disqus