By ELWOOD K. SHELTON
Daily Press writer
If only they were off-roading instead of running.
Perhaps then the rough, muddy, uneven cross-country course at Rangely might have been better anticipated and a little more fun.
Despite atypical conditions, the Moffat County boys and girls cross country teams both raced their way to first place team finishes across terrain more fit for a mountain goat than a human.
"It was a real rough course, and you could see where people had been four wheeling out there," senior Charlotte Steele said. "It was kind of a dangerous course to be running on, because it seemed like a good place to twists an ankle."
Steele and the rest of her teammates threw caution to the wind and put their ankles in harm's way en route to a victorious end to the regular season. Not only did the Lady Bulldogs pull into first place, but also grabbed a perfect team score by placing in the top-four spots.
Junior Danielle Brown was the top finisher for the Lady Bulldogs, pulling in a first place with a time of 20:26. This is Brown's second week as the team's top finisher. Steele is the only other runner to have finished in first place for two consecutive weeks.
Steele, who has consistently been the girls No. 1 runner this season, wasn't far behind Brown. Steele finished second with a time of 20:30.
Junior Laurel Mortensen and senior Beth White rounded out the other top-four spots.
"Even though we finished with a perfect score, I really wasn't too worried about how the girls ran," coach Mike Gleason said. "Really, the biggest thing I wanted was for both teams to get out and run in a meet, and stay loose going into regionals this week."
The boys also stepped up to the challenge, filling out the top-three finishing spots something they haven't done all year.
Junior Bryce Ellgen was the boys top finisher, pulling in with a first with a time of 17:48. He was followed by senior Colton Grinolds and junior Tim Bailey, who took second and third place respectively behind Ellgen.
With the regular season under wraps, both teams will focus on making state. Only one obstacle stands in the way Saturday's regional meet.
The regional meet, which will be held at Delta's Confluence Park, is a course with every opportunity to break personal records. In fact, it has been described by some as one of the faster courses they'll run this season.
"Delta's course is one you want to go out fast on and keep going," Grinolds said. "It's a real fast and flat course, which should see some of our team's better times."
The boys have high hopes for regionals. Gleason has set his sights on qualifying for state since the beginning of the season.
"We have a chance of winning it all at regionals," Gleason said. "If we don't win it, we have a chance to be in the top three."
As for the girls, who haven't lost to a team on the Western Slope, regionals should be a walk in the park. The team is confident in its ability to walk away with top honors at regionals, which will be the fourth year in a row for the seniors.
"We've won regionals since I was a freshman," Steele said. "We've been the strongest team on the Western Slope all year. There may be individual runners who can compete with us, but not a entire team."