By ELWOOD K. SHELTON
Daily Press writer
With junior runner Sheila McNicol unable to finish Saturday's state championship cross country meet because of knee pain, the Lady Bulldogs ended their season with a second place finish at state.
The girls were edged out of the first place finish, and a two-year defense of the state championship title, by Lewis-Palmer High School from Monument. Though, the Lady 'Dogs didn't take first place, it was by the narrowest of margins eight team points separated Lewis-Palmer and Moffat County.
"If Sheila had been able to finish off the race we would have been fine," coach Mike Gleason said. "But injuries are one of the things you have to expect to deal with in the season it's all part of running."
The state championship was held at Kent High School in Denver and is home to a relatively fast course. In fact, it was described by some runners as being extremely flat, with just a few sections of hills.
As far as the race's pace was concerned few runners took advantage of the course's potential speed.
"The times seemed slower overall," senior Charlotte Steele said. "It was because the first four girls to go out went so slow, and the rest of the runners just stuck behind them."
Steele was one of the girls right on the heels of the leading four runners, and was that way the entire race. Steele ended up finishing in fifth place with a time of 19:56.
In her first ever cross country state championship, junior Laurel Mortensen was the Lady 'Dogs second finisher. She edged out junior Danielle Brown, this year's most consistent No. 2 runner for the spot.
Mortensen ended up in 11th place overall with a time of 20:25, and Brown was right on her heels with a 12th place finish and a time of 20:31.
Senior Beth White, and juniors Treva Tyler and Ashley Bishop rounded out the field of Lady Bulldog runners with 15th, 82nd and 143rd, respectively.
"It is kind of disappointing not to defend the state title, especially for me since it's my senior year," Steele said. "But I'm pleased with the effort that my team put out and everyone placed better than last year."
The boys team didn't break the top-ten, like they had planned to.
Pulling in at 13th place they were only 30 points away from their goal, but in the process they beat teams they haven't all year. The boys cross country state championship went to Colorado Springs' Cheyenne Mountain High School.
"The boys really stepped it up for state. They ended up beating Palisade, which they hadn't done all year," Gleason said. "The boys have been getting stronger the whole season, and should be pleased with their performance at state."
The season's No. 1 runner for the Bulldogs was the first to finish at the state meet. Junior Bryce Ellgen pulled in first for the team in 43rd place overall with a time of 18:03.
The time was less than a minute and a half from the first place finishers time, showing how close the boy's race was.
Junior Tim Bailey was the second finisher for the boys coming in 51st with a time of 18:11. Bailey was consistently in the middle of the Bulldogs pack in the season, and edged out senior Colton Grinolds for the No. 2 runners spot.
It wasn't by much that Bailey beat Grinolds, only seven-seconds and three places. Grinolds pulled in as the Bulldogs third finisher in 54th place and with a time of 18:18.
"It was a pretty fast race, everyone got out at the start pretty quickly," Grinolds said. "Everyone on our team fought hard in the race, and with how close our top-four boys time's were it shows."
The last of the top-four runners for the Bulldogs was sophomore Anthony Loughran, who came in 68th with a time of 18:28.
The difference between the first Bulldog to finish and the fourth was only 25-seconds.
Rounding out the field of Bulldogs was senior Brian Haslem, and sophomores Kyle Eitel and Ryan Gainor who finished 137th, 141st and 163rd, respectively.
"Everyone ran a lot faster than at last year's state, and finished better," Grinolds said. "It's kind of disappointing that we didn't break the top-ten, but what are you going to do."