Paonia assistant cross country coach Shauna Meilner passed along the following meet results from last week's Pantherfest Invitational at Confluence Park.
On Friday, Oct. 7 -- exactly two weeks before the regional cross country meet -- the Paonia Eagles had a precursor run on the same course at the Delta Pantherfest Invitational (Confluence Park).
Representatives from eleven teams met at the start line; 69 girls and 75 boys completed the race.
With the top five runners scoring team points, the Paonia girls finished the day in second place behind 3A Steamboat Springs. All five of Paonia's scoring runners set new PRs (personal records).
Leading the way was junior Brooke Hillman, whose 21:00 earned her a seventh place medal. Eight seconds behind her was junior Nora Dransfield in eighth place. Just missing a turn on the awards podium, sophomore Alex Eaton finished 11th with a time of 21:32.
Rounding out the scoring for the Eagles were freshman Katya Schwieterman (22:30) and senior Macy O'Rourke (23:03).
Sophomore Mariah Griffith was clocked with a new PR of 24:10. Courtney VanVleet, senior, completed the race in a season-best time of 27:16, while freshman Sophia Cox shaved a minute off her time with a 27:47. The Paonia girls are currently ranked second in Western Slope 2A, Region 4, behind the defending state champions from Telluride.
Not to be outdone, four of the scoring runners for Paonia's boys team also set new PRs, finishing third as a team behind Delta and Olathe. Top finisher for the Eagles was junior Caden Meilner clocked at 17:16 for a fourth place finish. Sophomore Harley Ewert, who broke 19 minutes for the first time at the Sweitzer Lake meet the week before, landed a 15th place finish with his time of 18:12.
After a week off due to shin splints, senior Tim Helmer was running strong, setting a new season-best time of 18:26. Freshman Elijah Evans (18:39) and senior Eli Etter (18:46) rounded out the scoring for the Eagles, but junior Ben O'Rourke (18:52) and sophomore David Lozano (19:07) were not far behind.
Shaving nearly two minutes off his personal best time, best time, junior Hunter Norris came in at 20:31, while junior Isaac Stanfield whittled his time down to 22:22. Michael Hofmann, also a junior, was on his heels with a 22:23.
Nearing a PR with a new season-best time, junior Dominic Limone crossed the finish line in 22:59.
The Paonia boys cross country team currently ranks fourth out of eleven teams in Western Slope 2A Region 4, which traditionally has had a very strong showing at the state championships.
Head coach Brandy Sparks credits everyone giving 110% effort for the recent success of the PHS teams. "This is one dedicated group of kids. They do everything we ask of them, and they do it every day. In recent weeks, we have really started to see that hard work paying off. We are focusing for now on the regional meet, but we have our eye on state," states Coach Sparks. The Eagles have a training run this Thursday at the Rifle Cross Country Invitational.