Bulldogs bring their brooms

Moffat County sweeps boys, girls regional cross country titles

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— It was a subtle change, really, but one coach Dustin Ence wanted to make.

The difference? Instead of the word "Bulldogs," written boldly in white on the front of Moffat County's cross country tops, they now say "Moffat County."

The reason?

"When you go places, people need to know where you are from," Ence said.

Saturday, the Moffat County cross country team showed up at the Class 4A regional meet in Delta, but the only people who really got a good look at the front of Moffat County's runners were meet officials, some fans and the few high school athletes that finished ahead of the Bulldogs.

Behind sophomore Jeremy Bird's second-place run and senior Amelia Parker's third-place finish, Moffat County won the boys and girls regional championships for the first time since 1995.

"Hopefully, we are peaking at the right time," Ence said. "Hopefully, this springboards us into the state meet."

A rising Battle Mountain program was runner-up in both team races. Ence usually stands near the finish line, writing down times and listening to spectators say something along the likes of, "Here comes another Moffat County runner."

Saturday, because he didn't have to keep times, Ence was out on the Confluence Park course watching. Had he been near the finish area of the Class 4A boys' race, he would have heard something along the likes of "Here comes another Moffat County runner."

As expected, Palisade's Glen Randall won easily in 15 minutes, 34 seconds, but after Randall came a rush of blue and white. Bird was 2nd in 16:25; Steve Crisp placed 5th in 16:41. Ricardo Pinedo was 8th in 16:50.23, just edging past teammate Mike McNicol, who placed 9th in 16:50.56. Jake Miller was 11th in 16:55.

"I was feeling really good," Bird said. "I even had some left. I feel good about next week too."

Had the team not qualified for state, the five boys would have qualified individually for placing in the top 15, and Lincoln Cleverly, Moffat County's typical fifth or sixth finisher, did not race so he could rest three stress fractures before the state meet.

Colton Conrad was 31st and Michael Mascarenas was 49th for the boys.

Like Cleverly, Cortney Grandbouche also has a stress fracture, but she wanted to race Saturday. After spending the last two weeks wearing a protective boot to school and swimming in the pool for conditioning, Grandbouche jogged for 20 minutes Friday. Her first race in two weeks was Saturday, and she was in pain afterward.

She placed 28th in 20:59 and was the final finisher for the Bulldogs.

"I didn't want to go out hard because I knew I was going to die anyway," she said. "I wanted to get a race in before state."

The Moffat County boys won by 18 points, and the girls defeated Battle Mountain by 11, which was closer than the Bulldogs were expecting, but Parker's run certainly was one of the highlights for Moffat County on Saturday.

The senior crossed the finish line in 18:24 before collapsing on the grass. Several minutes later, she was up and smiling and talking about how good she felt after runs. Her emergence this season helped Moffat County sweep the regional meet.

"I approach every race the same," she said. "I need to do my best all the time. I can rest during the week."

Following Parker was Emily Sperl in 5th in 18:43. Angela Nelson was 7th in 19:23; Katie Morris placed 12th in 19:55. Jeacey Robinson was 21st in 20:25 and Alyssa Macomber finished 26th in 20:45.

Summit's Whitney Anderson proved why she is one of the nation's best high school distance runners, winning the Class 4A race in a blazing time of 16:56, which would have been good enough to qualify on the boys' side. After setting the new regional course record, she is the favorite heading into the Oct. 30 state meet at the Vineyard Golf Course in Colorado Springs.

In Class 3A, Aspen's Christy Severy won in 18:47. Garrett Marquardt of Hotchkiss won the 3A boys race in 16:18.

The Class 3A, 4A and 5A meets are Saturday in Colorado Springs.

To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com.

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