Frisco -- It's obvious that the 9,100-foot invitational, hosted by Summit High School, is noted for the elevation of the race. From the reactions of the Moffat County cross country teams, it should be more noted as the "One Heck of a Tough First Mile" cross-country race.
The first mile of the 5,000-meter race was an ascent up the cross-country ski trails of the Frisco Alpine Center.
"We haven't had any courses with hills, so this was a new challenge for the kids," assistant coach Todd Trapp said. "It was good to do something different, because it made them race a new way."
Trapp, who coached the team because head coach Dustin Ence ran a marathon Saturday in Utah, encouraged his runners to sit back for the first mile and take off when the course flattened out.
"Mentally, they thought they were going to struggle," Trapp said.
For most of the Bulldogs, their times were nowhere near as fast as other races this year, but their places were just as good.
Sophomore Jake Miller led the team with a fifth-place finish. Senior Steve Crisp, sophomore Jeremy Bird and freshman Mike McNicol finished in a pack in 12th through 14th places.
Junior Ricardo Pinedo was the fifth runner for Moffat County. He took 30th place, and junior Lincoln Cleverly and freshman Colton Conrad finished 32nd and 37th.
"Jake continues to build confidence," Trapp said. "It is also good to see Ricardo starting to come around after battling through a lot of things."
The team finished second behind Rocky Mountain, who is ranked third in Class 5A.
In the girls race, seniors Emily Sperl and Amelia Parker ran together through most of the race. Parker pulled ahead at the end to finish fifth and Sperl was seventh. The Bulldogs had the next three runners in the top 20 with senior Angela Nelson finishing 14th, junior Cortney Grandbouche taking 16th and sophomore Katie Morris coming across the finish line in 18th place.
Sophomore Jacquelyn Kinder finished 32nd, and freshman Nicole Collins was 54th.
Junior Alyssa Maycomber won the JV race, and her time would have been fast enough to be the sixth-place runner on varsity.
"Our girls' pack up front continues to get closer together," Trapp said. "Katie is getting a closer look, and Angela is getting closer to where she could be."
The girls team finished second behind the third-ranked team, Rocky Mountain.
The harriers may be in for an even more difficult course next weekend in Aspen.
"These two weeks will help us out with having confidence to run well on any type of course," Trapp said.
"Our regional and state courses are flat, so that is why we base more of our workouts on that than hilly courses."
David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.