By ELWOOD K. SHELTON
Daily Press writer
Ready or not, here they come. Amidst surprises and challenges, the Moffat County Lady Bulldogs cross country team knows one thing is certain they're on the way to state, and they're ready to rumble.
Junior cross country runner Laurel Mortensen expected her team to make state since she joined them this year, but what she didn't expect was to be running in her current position.
The first year cross country runner has consistently been the third finisher on the girl's team, and has been a driving force in bringing the Lady Bulldog back to state to defend their title.
"I really wasn't expecting the position on the team I have," she said. "But it will be a great experience to be one who has a competitive chance at the state meet."
Saturday will be Mortensen's first shot at the state meet held at Kent High School in Denver, the same spot where the girls captured their first state title.
The Moffat County girls are one of the heavy favorites to walk away with the 2001 Colorado State Title. In fact, head coach Mike Gleason hasn't lost too much sleep over his girls' chances.
"Really the girls are in a great position to do well at state," he said. "I'm not real worried about how they'll do, everything is coming together and we know where we are as a team."
Gleason is no newcomer to proper preparation for big events he's spent the majority of the second half of this season peaking them. A peak is the gradual reduction of miles put in a week for practice, so a runner has a greater amount of energy for a big race.
"The hardest part for me right now is trying to get the kids to relax," he said. "We've been peaking them so they're a little hyper from the extra energy. So, coach Gleason has had to be 'coach jerk' for the past week."
The boys team has felt the peak as well, especially feeling it last Saturday when they finished fourth in a tight regionals race at Delta. While the fourth place at regionals was right in the area where Gleason predicated the boys finishing, at state it could be anywhere.
"Right now it's hard to say where the boys will finish," he said. "They're right in the middle of the pack as far as all the other teams, so its difficult to say where any team in that area will finish. But, I can see them finishing as a team any where from a top-ten, to somewhere in the teens."
For junior Tim Bailey, it's all about the other competitors when he gets to state, it's how well he can compete with the best of the best.
"When you're at state, you're running with the top kids from all over Colorado," he said. "It's more of mental thing, but 90 percent of running is mental."
Bailey's biggest concern about his team having a good showing at state is how well the boys can tighten their times. Right now there is a one minute and 30 second gap between the top four runners, and the bottom three.
If the gap is breached then Bailey sees success for himself and his team.
"We need to get as pumped up for state as we did for regionals," he said. "I think we've got the guys to do it too we're running faster times than last year's team and we've got a group of quality guys."