Life on the road isn't easy. Just ask any member of the Bulldog cross-country team.
With the Moffat County Cross Country Invitational on Saturday, head coach Todd Trapp is hoping his team will come through at its only home meet of the season.
"So far, the beginning of the season has gone good," Trapp said. "There have been lots of improvements."
Trapp is referring to the minute differential that many of his runners have seen in the 2006 season. He also said that there are areas that need improvement if runners hope to be in the top 10 at the state meet.
"Last week, we didn't run that well," Trapp said. "There are some places where we struggled."
The biggest struggle for the boys and the girls teams is getting their fourth and fifth runners finishing closer to their top-three runners.
"The gap between the girls is closer," Trapp said about the time difference.
The boys gap may be larger, but Trapp said they are working on it.
"Jake Breslin has stepped up," Trapp said. "And Colt Criswell's workout yesterday was impressive."
The Bulldogs most recently ran in the Liberty Bell Invitational in Littleton on Friday. In the boys Division 3A, they finished 11th with a score of 261 points, and the girls finished one spot better in 10th with 253 points in the 3A division.
"The kids who put in miles this summer ran well," Trapp said.
One of those runners is senior Jeremy Bird, who has led the Bulldogs all season.
"Jeremy got a good base from the summer," Trapp said. "You can really see his improvement from his freshman year."
Bird finished eighth at the Liberty Bell, with a time of 16:27, dropping 35 seconds off his time from a year ago.
One Bulldog who did not see the improvement was senior Jake Miller. Miller is still waiting for his breakout race of the season and hopes he can accomplish it this weekend in front of a home crowd.
"I didn't run very good," Miller said. "I haven't felt relaxed."
Miller cites allergies as part of his problem, but said he's got to move forward and push those negative thoughts out of his head.
"My training is going well," Miller said. "I just need to put it all together."
Miller said he doesn't feel he's being aggressive enough at the start of his races. He falls behind the top runners and ends up trying to play catch-up the rest of the race.
Last year, Miller won the Moffat County Invitational and said the past three years have been good to him on his home turf.
Leading the girls this season has been sophomore Alicia Nelson. Nelson set a goal at the beginning of the season to break the 20-minute mark and accomplished that feat at the Liberty Bell, finishing eighth overall with a time of 19:57. Now Nelson has to find a new goal and has one in mind -- beating longtime Glenwood Springs rival.
With the home meet this weekend, the team is preparing to have fun and run well.
"Our home meet should be good," Nelson said. "It should give people confidence."
The meet will include eight and 10 teams. The course is a 3.2-mile route through Loudy-Simpson Park that loops around the nature trail and over the hill by the soccer field.
"It's definitely not easy, but it's not the most difficult course," Miller said.
Trapp said the course runs a little slower because of the terrain and all the turns, but it's mostly flat. He expects his teams to finish first in the boys and girls races and would like to see Moffat County have two individual first-place finishes. Although it's not a huge meet, Trapp said having something low key is helpful to the teams.
"Hopefully, we can get out and get after it," Trapp said.
The meet is set to start at 10 a.m. Saturday near the picnic area of Loudy-Simpson Park.
Melanie McDaniels can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 211, or firstname.lastname@example.org.