Bulldogs lead the pack for regionals

They are running toward the big prize, and it may be tough to catch them.

The Moffat County High School cross-country team has found success this year and, with four meets left before regionals, they may be kicking toward a big finish.

"Our girls are ranked number two in the state," said coach Mike Gleason. "The girls are
performing real well, and they won the region the last two years we should win it again this year."

Gleason returned every girl from last year's squad, and he believes that experience accounts for much of their success.

The boys had a bigger hill to climb.

"The guys side has really been in a rebuilding mode," Gleason said. "We lost four of our best five guys from last year, and we have eight boys who are running
cross-country for the first time." Things actually looked bleak at the beginning of the year for the boys' team.

"We were worried we wouldn't even have enough guys to compete," Gleason said. "We started with three boys, and you need five to compete. But the kids did a great job recruiting for the team, and now we're even stronger than we thought we'd be."

Jerod Burns, Bryce Ellgin and Colton Reynolds anchor a boys' team that continues to improve.

The girls' team also seems to get better every week, and that should be a concern to other teams in the state.

"Our top five girls are really among the best in the state," Gleason said. "Tuesday they scored a perfect score [against Uintah in Vernal]. They took the top four spots." Actually, while the top four spots are scored, the Bulldog girls swept the first five spots at the Vernal meet.

"I'm feeling pretty good," said sophomore Sheila McNichol. "I'm getting better times as the year goes on. Tuesday I beat my personal record." She did that by running the 5K in 19:59. "Our top five runners are pretty close, so we should do well [at
regionals].

As good as they are, the girls are not satisfied to rest on their laurels.

"I just want to improve my time every time I race," said sophomore Danielle Brown. "I broke 20:00 on my birthday [in Vernal], and I want to break 19:30 this year. That will put me in the top 10 in state."

To Brown, running to victory is all about working hard in
practice, pushing yourself and mental attitude.

"Running is really 90 percent mental and only 10 percent
physical," she said. "You have to go into a race thinking you're going to do well, and then you will."

The mental part also includes a kind of self-discipline that enables the runner to push beyond where the body wants to go.

"You should run all of your races until you hit a wall," she said. "You have to make yourself run until you can't run
anymore."

The Bulldogs take that
intensity to the Rapid City Invitational in South Dakota Friday to face some familiar opponents.

"We went to a camp with the girls from South Dakota, so it will be fun," Brown said.

Gleason also emphasized fun until the regionals begin.

"In these last few meets we'd like to just get a look at other teams out there and see where we stand," Gleason said. "None of the meets really count until regionals and state."

Those are usually the words of a coach who expects a lot from his team, and Bulldogs seem ready to deliver.

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