Editor's note: This is an installment in a series highlighting the accomplishments of those Moffat County High School athletes named All-Conference and All-Conference honorable mention during the 2000-2001 athletic seasons.
Most of Stephanie Hurd's teammates, and all of her coaches, agree the senior has been the leader of the Moffat County High School cross country program for the past four years. But this last season, her final season with the 'Dogs, Hurd had to do much of her leading from the sidelines.
Hurd was plagued with tendinitis, which created a on-again, off-again running season for her. She said none of the 2000 races were memorable because she was hurt or sick for most of the season.
But her career as a runner is as interesting and intense as any race run.
During the pivotal year of athletic endeavor, seventh grade, Hurd found herself gravitating towards running, namely because of her older sister. Hurd's sister competed for Moffat County as well, and the young Stephanie watched her races.
"I got into running because of my older sister, that and I used to run around the neighborhood a lot when I was a little kid," she said. Hurd worked her way through two years of middle school running, and then hit the big time of high school cross country. While running as an underclassman, Hurd achieved the rank of the girls' number-one runner. She held that position until her senior year.
Her years as a Moffat County High School underclassman were marked with personal success, but not success as a whole for the team. What Hurd needed came during her senior year a complete team.
"I was usually the number-one runner on the team, but this last fall I had to work my way back up to the spot," Hurd said. "My underclass years were good, but it wasn't until my senior year that we had a team that could really push me."
The senior, though suffering from injuries during the season, still pushed herself to achieve the rank of number-two runner, behind sophomore phenom Daniel Brown. The push from her team and herself helped Hurd walk away from regionals with a third-place finish, and state with 16th.
The finishes earned her All-Conference and All-State honors.
The individual honors turned out to become secondary to the team winning state, especially for the senior.
"State was something I was expecting to happen, it turned out to be a really great senior present, but it didn't really hit me until a couple of weeks later," Hurd said.
Though this is Hurd's last year in the Moffat County's blue and white, she is not done with the running scene. She will be competing on MCHS's highly touted 4x800-meter relay this spring, this is the relay team who set the state record last year only to have it broken less than a day later by Highland Ranch.
After this spring's track season, and her high school graduation, Hurd will be off to Gunnison where she will compete with Moffat County teammate Jarrod Burns on the Western State Mountaineers cross country team. Western State is the premier cross country program in NCAA division two, and boasts division-two Coach of the Year in Duane Vandenbusche, a coach that has never brought his girls cross country team to less then a third-place showing in the championship tournament.
"Hopefully, he can do me justice and find my potential," Hurd said.