By Wayne Crick

Sports editor

Paonia junior Alyster Birk has had a solid season running in cross country races in 2020. The determined athlete has been in the top five of all five meets he’s participated in except the Anna Banana Invitational at Fruita on Sept. 19. He was fifth at the Grand Mesa County Line Trails Meet on Aug. 21, second at the Hotchkiss Invitational on Sept. 5, fifth at the Delta Confluence Invitational on Sept. 10, 14th at Anna Banana and first in the Delta-Sweitzer Lake Invitational on Sept. 25.

Birk’s winning time of 17:32.70 put a stamp on a personal best time. Following the race, Birk was animated and stated he was, “Really excited about breaking my PR!” After coming up the final incline to the pavement leading to the finish line, Birk finished with a full sprint to the line for an uncontested win.

Paonia’s next four finishers, and their places, counted toward the team race allowing the Eagles to place fifth with 103 points. Completing the list of top five runners for Paonia were junior Alejandro Garcia (16th, 19:45.94), sophomore Diego Lareau (26th, 20:58.84), sophomore Milo Chavez (32nd, 21:26.56) and junior Matt Delaney (37th, 22:50.07). Other Paonia runners and their places included freshman Kage Burger (38th), junior Jose Mojarro (39th), junior Isaac Forbes (40th) and freshman James LaBounty (41st).

Hotchkiss High School finished sixth in the boys team race with 152 points. Senior Kenny Drbohlav was 23rd (20:13.12), freshman Hunter Thompson was 27th (21:00.47), junior Ben Rodriguez was 36th (22:35.66), senior Pablo Camacho was 42nd (23:32.01) and freshman Christopher Hatheway was 43rd (24:51.26). The remainder of Hotchkiss’ runners included freshman Kevin Regeman (44th) and sophomore Kegan Davis-Daniels (48th).

Delta High School failed to place as a team as there were only three runners in the race for the boys. Senior Doyle Young was Delta’s top runner placing 15th in a time of 19:36.72. Freshman John Dexter finished 25th in a time of 20:57.34 and freshman Alex Toole was 35th with a time of 22:23.78.

Olathe’s boys placed fourth at Sweitzer Lake with senior Miguel Almanza Silva finishing fourth with a time of 18:23.60. The next four placers included sophomore Cesar Franco Ramirez (17th, 19:53.17), sophomore Connor Ripley (22nd, 20:04.85), senior Daniel Roque (31st, 21:25.89) and senior Bruno Ramirez (34th, 21:40.53). Olathe’s sixth runner, Lucas Barber finished 46th.

In the girls’ division, 36 runners competed in two flights for the top spot at Sweitzer Lake on Friday. Coal Ridge’s Mikayla Cheney finished first with her time of 18:58.84.

Delta High School finished second in the team race with 37 points while Coal Ridge won the team title with 36 points. Hotchkiss finished third (64) and Paonia was fourth (91).

Delta’s top runner, freshman Kylie Huff, placed fourth with a time of 21:46.89. Huff had two 24th place finishes (Warrior Matchett — Aug. 22 and Palisade Dawg Invitational — Sept. 4) with a fifth place in between the two races at Meeker (Aug. 28). The best time of the season for Huff came at the Delta Confluence Invitational (Sept. 11) where she posted her best time of 21:25.86. Huff was eighth at the Mountaineer Cowboy Invitational on Sept. 19 with the fourth place finish this past Friday at Sweitzer Lake marking her best finish of the season.

Delta runners took six of the next top 25 places on their way to second place. The next four finishes behind Huff, combined with Huff’s place, accounted for the 37 points scored by the Panthers. Those four finishers were sophomore Kylee Terry (6th, 22:05.03), senior Jessica Dexter (7th, 22:44.31), freshman Shayla Curtis (11th, 23:21.24) and freshman Kassidy Wear (16th, 23:59.42). Delta’s three other competitors in the race were senior Marcy Schaal (19th), junior Sophie McCrackin (21st) and senior Grace Hall (28th).

Hotchkiss’ 64 points came on the finishes of junior Megan Jenkins (22:00.40, 3rd), junior Karlie Egging (23:06.61, 9th), freshman Aubrianna Randlett (17th, 24:11.51), freshman Leah Vader (20th, 24:49.44) and freshman Cece Houseweart (26th, 25:27.92). Hotchkiss’ Adair Ela also competed in the race and finished 32nd.

Paonia’s girls got a strong finish from sophomore Leia Ellenberger who finished 10th with her time of 23:17.82. Other runners in the girls race contributing to Paonia’s 91 team points were senior Ceylon Carter (23:55.66, 14th), freshman Emily Reedy (30th, 26:18.86), junior Abby LaBounty (26:19.00, 31st) and senior Cristina Rankin (27:19.76). Senior Abby Reedy also competed for Paonia and finished 34th.

Olathe High School had two girls in the race, juniors Cheyanne Germann (23rd) and Raquel Lovato (36th).

Regional competition is set for Friday, Oct. 9.

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