Moffat County High School senior Mike McNicol pushes up the hill on the last half of Saturday's 5,000-meter race at Loudy-Simpson Park during the Bulldogs' lone home meet of the season, the Moffat County Invitational. McNicol placed first in the boys race.

Photo by Jerry Raehal

Moffat County High School senior Mike McNicol pushes up the hill on the last half of Saturday's 5,000-meter race at Loudy-Simpson Park during the Bulldogs' lone home meet of the season, the Moffat County Invitational. McNicol placed first in the boys race.

Crossing the finish line

Moffat County runners take on 5,000-meter race at home

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Corey Wojkiewicz catches his breath after finishing Saturday's Moffat County Invitational. The meet is the Bulldogs' lone home event of the cross-country season.

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Moffat County High School senior Elaine DuBois sprints to the finish line at Saturday's Moffat County Invitational at Loudy-Simpson Park. The Moffat County girls team placed first.

— Sweat pours down Mike McNicol's face.

He is clutching at his side, keeling over, with pain etched in his face.

Then comes a smile.

After all, the Moffat County High School senior had just completed a 5,000-meter race, crossing the line in a time of 18 minutes, 5 seconds, claiming first place in front of the home crowd during Saturday's Moffat County Invitational.

And for McNicol, there was more to the victory than taking first.

After missing last year's home meet because of an injury, McNicol didn't want to miss out on running in front of the hometown.

"I had to redeem myself for" not running last year, he said. "We've been practicing out here all week. I really wanted to win this bad."

He wasn't alone.

Alicia Nelson also claimed a first-place finish in the girls race, clocking a 20:08. The girls team took first with all five varsity runners placing in the top 12, for a team score of 28 points. The boys placed second in the five-team meet, scoring 67 points.

The road to first place was different for McNicol and Nelson.

McNicol paced himself off the crowd.

"I didn't know most of the kids in the race, and we went out pretty fast, so I didn't know if it was going to be for real or not," he said. "We went through the first mile in, like, 5:13, which is too fast for this course, and the rest of way I was leading, which is hard because the rest of the competitors just suck off you the whole race."

Lead he did, pulling away the last mile.

"It just hurt real bad," he said.

Conversely, there was no crowd for Nelson. She led all the way, but did so off her own pace.

"I kind of just used the first mile to sit and set a pace," she said. "The rest of the miles, I just gradually picked up the pace as it went along.

"It's hard to push yourself" when no one is there with you. It's hard to figure out the pace.

Coach Todd Trapp was pleased with both teams' efforts.

"Seeing the girls win was really good," he said. "I thought they really went after it. They were ready for it, and it's always good to win a home meet.

"For the guys, Mike won and you always look for that. : I thought we had guys compete through the finish. We just had really good finishes through out."

The Bulldogs next compete Saturday at the Summit High School meet. Time to be announced.

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