Personal records were set in droves last Friday as runners got a chance to race on an almost perfectly flat 5k course around Sweitzer Lake at the Pantherfest Cross Country Invitational.
Conditions were even better for the girls squads, who ran their race under brilliant blue sky with a late morning breeze as escort.
"It was really a great race," Paonia senior Chelsea Meilner said after finishing second overall. "Our whole girls' team put PRs on the board so I couldn't be more proud of them."
Meilner's time of 19 minutes, 40.59 seconds marked not only a personal best but was also the first time she broke the 20-minute mark in her career.
All of the runners were energized by the newness of the course.
"This is the first time we've ever run this course so it was something new and exciting, and it was a really good day to run," Meilner said. "It was a new challenge and that's what made it exciting."
Brooke Hillman was the next Eagle across the finish line at 21:05.11. Then Nora Dransfield came in at 21:56.30, good for a top 20 finish. Courtney Van Vleet (24:31.86) and Megan Limone (27:51.74) completed the Paonia team score.
"We're just starting to see all of the Paonia girls getting to where we need to be," Meilner said. "We're definitely going to put a challenge on the table."
Telluride senior Soleil Gaylord won her second race in Delta County this season when she finished first overall in 19:25.70.
Delta's Mykayla Music posted her best finish so far this year with her third place time of 20:00.76. The senior ran the lake course for the Deltarado Days 5k, so she had a bit of a homefield advantage.
"The first mile felt good," Music said, a little out of breath after the finish. "I always struggle on the second mile, but Mae Anderson was actually there to push me all the way through the second mile. Then into the third mile I felt good, so I went with it."
Abbi Beckwith and Beki Atchley finished next for Delta with their times of 22:15.64 and 22:15.70, respectively, good for 20th and 21st place.
Anha Richards was fourth for Delta at 24:03.88.
Summer Hood (27:15.08), Melanie Osteen (29:08.05), Karina Bedoy (29:56.66) and Amanda Fuller (31:23.76) rounded out the team scores for Delta.
"Our girls' team is still kind of young, and we're getting better," Music said. "We're going to be there for regionals."
Music was paced through part of the race by Hotchkiss senior Mae Anderson, who finished fourth overall in the run with her time of 20:06.47.
The Bulldogs, who finished fourth in state last year, have a strong core led by Anderson that is finding its stride as regionals approach at the end of the month.
Kaiya Firor was the second Hotchkiss runner across the finish line after she completed the course in 21:07.03. Teammate Sophia Schelle was right behind her at 21:30.05, good for 12th and 14th place finishes, respectively.
Mariah Griffith (24:20.90) and Ashley Ziemer (27:42.92) completed the Hotchkiss team results, which put the Bulldogs at third place for the invitational.
Telluride won the team contest, Paonia was fifth and Delta was sixth in the team standings.
Coverage for the boys race at Sweitzer will appear in next week's paper.