Blue might not be considered a good fall color in the world of fashion, but the teams that wore the color at the Moffat County High School Cross Country Invitational Saturday made it look good among the autumn foliage of Loudy-Simpson Park.
The Moffat County boys and girls teams had packs near the front of their races, and with the addition of the Fruita-Monument boys up front, blue was well represented.
"Both teams packed up well early," Moffat coach Dustin Ence said. "More than anything this was a good confidence builder for us."
The eighth-ranked girls had seniors Amelia Parker, Angela Nelson and Emily Sperl in the top five through two-and--a-half miles of the 3.1 mile race. Nelson faded to sixth while Sperl finished fourth and Parker was the runner-up. Parker, after never finishing better than the third runner last year for the Bulldogs, has led her team all season.
"My training over the summer had made a big difference," she said. "It was nice to have a couple other girls on my team with me because we help push each other."
Junior Cortney Grandbouche finished ninth and sophomore Katie Morris was the fifth Bulldog with an 11th-place finish. The biggest improvement of the meet was from freshman Jeacey Robinson, who finished strong to take 13th. Sophomore Jacquelyn Kinder was the seventh Moffat runner in 31st.
"The girls had a solid speed workout this week and I thought they would have a good race," Ence said. "It was nice to see Angela up there pushing it early. Katie continues to get closer to the front and Jeacey had a great race for us."
There were no official team scores for the race, but if there were the Bulldogs would have won the team title with a score 36 points better -- 32-68 -- than runner-up Steamboat Springs.
The boys weren't quite as far up in the race as the girls but their pack was just as tight. The top four Bulldogs finished in a row from seventh to10th place. Leading the pack was sophomore Jake Miller. He was followed by sophomore Jeremy Bird, senior Steve Crisp and freshman Mike McNichol. Lincoln Cleverly took 16th, while Ricardo Pinedo was 26th and Mike Mascarenas was 54th.
In the unofficial team scoring, Fruita went second, third, fourth, 19 and 20, which was good enough for 48 points, two ahead of the Bulldogs. But the three lead runners for Fruita followed a wrong, shorter trail for part of the race and would have been disqualified if there were team scores.
With the small-race atmosphere the shortcut wasn't too controversial.
"It's a pretty friendly rivalry with Fruita, so the cut was no real big deal" Miller said. "We help push each other."
After the Moffat harriers ran three of their first races on the Front Range that included least 15 teams and more than 150 runners, the eight-team race at home was a change.
"It was nice to be able to see your teammates and have a good idea what place you were in," Crisp said. "Before it was like you would pass 15 people and 15 people would pass you so you had no idea where you were at."
The Bulldogs will race at 9,100 feet next week at the Summit Invitational.
"I think some of our runners are looking forward to the next couple of weeks," Ence said. "The next couple of courses are more strength oriented than speed and we've got more strong runners than speedsters."
David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.