When Beth and Don French had signaled the beginnings of all the races at the Oct. 4 Pantherfest at the Confluence cross country meet, there was an excess of 20 schools on site. Roughly (unofficially) 585 athletes participated in six separate events scheduled for Friday’s competition at Confluence Park beginning at 10 a.m. There were 19 teams entered in the girls varsity race, 20 teams for the boys varsity race, 13 teams for the girls junior varsity race, 16 teams in the boys junior varsity race, 13 teams in the girls’ middle school race and 11 teams lined up for the boys middle school race.

What makes Delta’s Confluence Park an attractive course for cross country is the lack of concrete and pavement on a majority of the course. The annual Pantherfest at the Confluence meet brings plenty of revenue to the City of Delta as well. Class 2A and 4A cross country athletes will gather at Confluence Park hosted by Montrose High School, on Friday, Oct. 18, to compete in regional competition for berths in this year’s state cross country meet. Delta’s regional trials are scheduled for Friday, Oct. 18, in Basalt. The Boys and Girls Cross Country State Championships are set for Oct. 26 at the Norris-Penrose Event Center in Colorado Springs.

Last Friday’s Pantherfest featured some fast times for participants finishing in the top five. In the varsity girls race, Basalt High School’s Sierra Bower scooted around the 5k course in 17:40.25, and was 11 seconds faster than last year’s winner, Eagle Valley High School’s Joslin Blair. The boys winner, Durango’s Luke Tichi, blistered the course in 15:46.98 but was nearly 12 seconds slower than Glenwood Springs High School’s Henry Barth who won that race a year ago.

Paonia’s Katya Schwieterman paced all Delta County runners at Pantherfest with her 20:08.95 to finish 23rd in the race. Hotchkiss’ Karlie Egging was a distant 44th but had a decent finish time, 21:27.72. Other top five times for Delta County schools included Paonia High School’s Leia Ellenberger 58th, 22:27.70; Delta’s Kylee Terry 65th, 27:56.74; Paonia’s Cristina Rankin 74th, 23:58.24; Hotchkiss High School’s Isabella Spano 82nd, 24:49.57; Delta’s Grace Hall 83rd, 25:19.02; Hotchkiss’ Grace Hatheway 84th, 25:26.79; Paonia’s Irene Shenk 86th, 26:02.65; Delta’s Emma Corbasson 88th, 26:10.37; Hotchkiss’ Adair Ela 89th, 26:12.84; Paonia’s Abby Reedy 92nd, 26:38.61; Hotchkiss’ Nadia Hill 95th, 27:05.42; Delta’s Sophia McCrackin 96th, 27:13.09 and Delta’s Kaitlyn Branson 98th, 28:33.27.

Shad Lewis paced Delta County boys in the Pantherfest with his 21st-place finish in 1:30.32. The remainder of the top five finishes for Delta County cross country teams includes Hotchkiss’ Tevin Keller 58th, 19:06.51; Delta’s Braeden Sprout 59th, 19:07.12; Paonia’s Alyster Birk 68th, 19:37.86; Paonia’s Alejandro Garcia 76th, 20:02; Paonia’s Odessa Shank 77th, 20:03.51; Hotchkiss’ Kenny Drbohlav, 83rd, 20:32.02; Delta’s Doyle Young 87th, 20:43.86; Paonia’s Milo Chavez 95th, 21:19.11; Delta’s Enrique Gonzales 99th, 21:36.39; Hotchkiss’ Ben Rodriquez 102nd, 22:06.79; Paonia’s Matt Delaney 104th, 22:09.62; Hotchkiss’ Pablo Camacho 106th, 23:05.61 and Delta’s Kiril Ortega 109th, 23:53.56.

Delta was scheduled to compete in the Rifle Invitational 4 p.m. today. The final tuneup before regional competition is in Montrose on Saturday, Oct. 12, beginning at 10 a.m. Delta and Paonia are slated to participate in the regular season finale.

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