For the second-year Paonia Eagles cross country team, electing to run at the unfamiliar Battle Mountain Husky Invitational last Saturday morning, rather than at the familiar Central Warrior meet in Grand Junction Friday afternoon, had its benefits. Temperatures were cooler, the terrain was more challenging, and the scenery was amazing.
It was also a tough course, said Paonia coach Richard Hypio, whose teams attracted 28 runners this season. "We knew it was going to be."
The course, said Hypio, begins at the base of Beaver Creek Ski Area and winds uphill for the first mile. The second mile was a combination of level and downhill, and the third included up-and-down sections, ending in a nice downhill finish.
Senior Taylor Polson had a short practice week and had spent several days traveling, said Hypio.
Then there was the challenge of getting through all the festivities of Homecoming Week. Despite the distractions, Polson finished ninth with a time of 23 minutes, 39 seconds. "She ended up running really strong and walked away with a lot more confidence on the hills," said Hypio.
With the exception of two Hotchkiss runners, Polson was outrun by bigger schools, including Greta Van Calcar of Palisade, who set a new course record of 20:53 for the win.
Runners from 4A Battle Mountain and 5A Columbine also finished in the top 10.
The course was tough on Chelsea Meilner, said Hypio. The sophomore finished in 25.39 to place 28th.
Braiden Clement finished in 27:07. Alicia Wilmore and Brooklynd Erickson, along with Delta's Abbi Beckwith, all crossed the finish line in 28:39.
Paonia finished eighth out of 13 scoring teams.
In the men's division, Palisade's Jacob Erickson won with a time of 18:42.
Paonia senior Jason Sturgis finished second among 2A runners, and 13th overall, with a time of 21:21. "He was happy" with his race, said Hypio.
The meet attracted 17 teams, including several private and front range schools.
Battle Mountain won the team title with 58 points. Paonia finished eighth out of 12 scoring teams with 185 points, and one point behind seventh-place Greeley West.
Paonia freshman Eli Etter finished in 22:07 to place 42nd, and was the first among a group of Paonia runners, including Jesse Reed, Tim Helmer and Zach Milner, to finish mid-pack, and within less than a minute of each other.
"It's nice to have that pack," said Hypio. They really push each other.
Paonia will run this Saturday at the Eagle Valley Invitational with races starting at 10 a.m.blog comments powered by Disqus