At Saturday's Hotchkiss Invitational meet, the Paonia girls owned the course. Three Eagles finished in the top 10 to win the meet with 12 points.
Junior Katya Schwieterman was the overall wnner, crossing the finish line in 22 minutes, 15.95 seconds, more than three minutes faster than her freshman year time, and a minute, 20 seconds ahead of last year's fourth-place finish.
"First win in cross country ever," said Schwieterman.
Tawny Roberts placed fourth in 23:215.57, and Alexandra Eaton finished seventh in 24:16.40. "One, four, seven," said Schwieterman. "Pretty powerful."
Montrose, last year's team winner, placed second with 21 points, and Olathe finished third with 27 points led by a ninth-place finish by Angela Alcaraz.
The individual win was also a first for Schwieterman, a two-time state qualifying junior.
Schwiterman finished fourth last year and knew from the field heading into the race that she'd have to compete with last year's third place runner, Kelsey Rycenga of Montrose. "I just tried to hang on to her in the first mile," said Schwieterman. "When we got to the big downhill, I just tried to loosen up and go, and she never caught me again." Rycenga placed second, crossing the finish line 28 seconds behind Schwieterman.
Schwieterman said the win followed a hard week of practice, and happened on a course the team knows well. "It's a hard course, but we were ready for it," she said. "It's hilly and it's tough, but knew we can get through it."
Eaton also took advantage of gravity on a course known for its steep ascents and descents, shaving almost a minute off of last year's 10th-place finish. "I'm really proud of that," she said. "Downhill you kind of gotta fly a little bit."