Delta High School’s cross country teams met a dual challenge with two 5k races on back-to-back days, Aug. 30 and 31. Friday’s, Aug. 30, meet was the Devil’s Thumb Hill Climb with a second race on Saturday, Aug. 31, taking place in Minturn. Paonia High School’s cross country team was one of 18 girls and 19 boys teams to run in the Battle Mountain/Minturn Nordic Run on Saturday.

Though the morning began with mild temperatures, the sun made significant contributions to last Friday’s, Devil’s Thumb CC meet. As one of the most demanding courses for cross country runners, Devil’s Thumb symbolizes a near Spartan atmosphere with its demanding ascending trail to the landmark characterizing its namesake. Once at the base of Devil’s Thumb, runners certainly heave a sigh of relief and look to attack the next phase of the race ... the safest way down to more gentle trail features.

This year’s race included the fewest number of teams in the history of the course, dating back to 2015 when as many as 10 teams showed up to test the trail. This year’s entrants included three high school teams and two middle school squads. For the girls race, Delta and Caprock Academy fielded competitors while the boys excursion featured the same two teams plus De Beque. Delta Middle School and Caprock Academy were the only entrants in the middle school division.

Caprock’s Ashleigh Gardner won the girls race, recording the event’s second fastest time, 29:57.11. Delta freshman Kylee Terry finished second (38:42.34) followed by teammates Grace Hall (third) Tayler Huntley (sixth), Emma Corbasson (seventh) and Sophie Williams (eighth) who represented Delta’s top five places earning the team title with 15 points.

For the boys, Caprock Academy collected the first four places and a sixth place finish to claim the boys title with 16 points. Jeremy Swain cruised the course in 26:11 to pace the Eagles team victory.

Delta’s first runner to cross the finish line was Zach McMillan who finished in 30:35.79. The Panther’s next four placers were Enrique Gonzales (10th), Wyatt Smith (11th), Kiril Ortega (12th) and Christian O’Brien (15th).

Mountain Vista High School’s boys and girls teams ran away with team titles in the Battle Mountain/Minturn meet with 21 and 30 points, respectively.

Paonia’s girls finished 15th in the team race with 432 points and Delta was 16th with 441 points.

Senior Katya Schwieterman was Paonia’s top girl’s runner finishing 51st in 24:20. Freshman teammate Leia Ellenberger was 60th and Delta’s Terry was 67th with a 25:11 finish. 18 teams and 121 runners competed in the event.

Senior Shad Lewis had Delta County’s top finish with his 18:54 and 31st place. Paonia sophomore Birk Alyster was the next Delta County runner crossing the finish line in 85th place. There were 19 teams and 127 competitors in the boys race.

Delta County cross country teams are in action again Saturday, Sept. 14, at the Gunnison Invitational beginning at 9 a.m.

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