The Paonia girls' cross country squad showed that the Eagles have one of its deepest, most talented teams yet.
Leading the way last Friday was senior Chelsea Meilner, who completed the course in 20:23.75 to finish fifth overall.
"I felt pretty good," Meilner said. "The competition today was just awesome. Many of the teams we see here today will be the teams we see at regionals. It kind of stacked out as a pre-season regional meet, so that was awesome."
Meilner is a three-time individual qualifier for the state tournament, posting her best showing on the podium last year at ninth. Her strongest desire is for the girls to make state as a team.
"I think we have a better chance to make it to state this year than any of the other years I've been running," Meilner said. "These girls, I've been so proud of their work ethic, and they're just stepping up where they need to."
Sophomore Brooke Hillman continued her impressive early start to the season and was the second Eagles finisher at 22:31.04. Sophomore Nora Dransfield was next for Paonia at 23:38.79.
"I thought the girls did very good," Paonia coach Brandy Sparks said. "Our second and third runners are going to have to pick it up a little bit, but I have no doubt that as they get more and more in shape, I fully expect times to drop."
Junior Macy O'Rourke posted a time of 25:09.57 for Paonia while fellow junior Courtney Van Vleet followed after her with a time of 28:08.63. Senior Megan Limone was the final Eagles finisher at 29:38.59.
"The girls continue to improve each week," Sparks said. "We were neck and neck with Hotchkiss. They had a really good race. I'm excited about things to come."
Paonia finished ninth overall in the team standings.
Delta's second annual "Kickoff to Christmas" takes place Saturday, Nov. 25. This event is sponsored by the Delta Area Chamber of Commerce and First Colorado National Bank.