The Hotchkiss girls' cross country team finished fourth in the state last year and early results this season show that the Bulldogs might well be among 2A's best once again.
Senior Mae Anderson finished second overall, and the Bulldogs made a strong showing at the Delta Cross Country Invitational last Friday morning at Confluence Park.
"Our team is coming along very well," Anderson said after the run. "We have a lot of underclassmen, and they're doing great. As a team goal of ours, we're looking to qualify again for state, and hopefully do well at state."
It was only the second cross country race of the season for the Bulldogs, who are gradually getting into running shape and are hoping to improve each race.
Anderson finished the mostly flat 5k course in a time of 20 minutes, 7.38 seconds. She crossed the finish line a little over 30 seconds after overall individual winner Soleil Gaylord of Telluride, who finished at 19:31.69.
"The first 800 meters, everyone was going superfast," Anderson said. "Then we kind of spread out. It was a good race. I felt strong throughout the whole thing. I'm kind of biased to this course because I've PR'd (set a personal record) here, so it's one of my favorites."
Freshman Kaiya Firor showed a promising future when she finished 12th overall for Hotchkiss with her time of 20:54.79. Senior Sophia Schelle was the next Bulldogs finisher with her mark of 21:38.67.
"I'm really pleased in thinking that compared to what we did here last year, today I see some significant drops in time," Hotchkiss coach Kelly Cowan said. "Delta's always a fast course. That held true to form."
Another Hotchkiss freshman, Mariah Griffith, was the next finisher for the Bulldogs at 25:36.04. Sophomore Ashley Ziemer posted a time of 29:02.90.
The Bulldogs want to work on the things they can control.
"Individually I tell them, 'You're going there to run your own race, don't worry about who's around you or where they're from,'" Cowan said. "As a team we have to approach it that way. All we can do is control what we're hoping to accomplish."
The Delta Invitational was open to all classes, and powerhouse Grand Junction won the girls' overall team title. Hotchkiss finished seventh in the team standings.