The Moffat County High School cross-country team. Front row, from left: Alicia Nelson, Colt Criswell, Laura Zirkle, Alfredo Lebron, Nike Cleverly and Maddy Jourgensen. Back row, from left: Kye Adams, Corey Wojtkiewicz, Kevin Murray, Jimmy Howe, Chris Zirkle, Jarred Blevins, Charlie Griffiths, Britteny Ivers and Callie Papoulas. Not pictured: Megan Knez.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

The Moffat County High School cross-country team. Front row, from left: Alicia Nelson, Colt Criswell, Laura Zirkle, Alfredo Lebron, Nike Cleverly and Maddy Jourgensen. Back row, from left: Kye Adams, Corey Wojtkiewicz, Kevin Murray, Jimmy Howe, Chris Zirkle, Jarred Blevins, Charlie Griffiths, Britteny Ivers and Callie Papoulas. Not pictured: Megan Knez.

Life in the fast lane

Bulldog cross-country team aiming at improving last season's success

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At a glance

Players to watch

Alicia Nelson (senior) - Coach Todd Trapp said Nelson's success in the past, combined with the work she put in during the summer and her lofty goals, should make her a top contender.

Maddy Jourgensen (sophomore) - Jourgensen came on strong at the end of last season, and Trapp said she should be able to build on that success this year.

Nike Cleverly (sophomore) - Trapp said he expects Cleverly to improve throughout the season and make a large impact once the state regionals arrive.

Chris Zirkle (sophomore) - The Hayden resident is in his first season in cross country, but despite his lack of experience, Trapp said Zirkle is motivated to impress.

Colt Criswell (senior) - Trapp said Criswell - in his last year as a bulldog - is looking to compete at the highest level competition.

Corey Wojtkiewicz (junior) -Wojtkiewicz's tough summer workouts and confidence should bode well for the third-year runner, Trapp said.

Teams to watch

Summit - Team within Moffat County's region that Trapp said will be tough to beat because of their returning members.

Glenwood Springs - The Demons - who finished right behind the Bulldogs at regionals - return several varsity runners.

Battle Mountain - Trapp said the Huskies are a perennial powerhouse in running, and he expects the same this season.

Dates to circle

Sept. 5 - Moffat County travels to Grand Junction to compete in the Liberty Invitational. Trapp said the team annually looks forward to the meet for its fast course and the subsequently fast times that come with it.

Sept. 20 - MCHS hosts its lone meet of the fall season. The Moffat County Invitational offers fans a chance to see the home team in action.

Oct. 18 - Cross country 4A regional championships. Trapp said everything the Bulldogs do throughout the season is geared toward the regional meet, which is when state championship berths are earned

Team Information

League: Western Slope League (WSL) Class 4A

Coach: Todd Trapp

Assistant Coach: Jennifer Pressgrove

Trapp with the Bulldogs: seventh year

Returnees: 14

Players lost: 6

Each member of the Moffat County High School cross-country team runs solo throughout the course of the season.

Up and down hills they go, through flatlands and wilderness, pushing themselves toward a finish line only visible as they near the end.

But, according to coach Todd Trapp, if you were to ask any of the Bulldog athletes, they would each say the team comes first.

Faster individual times make for a faster team.

"Our No. 1 goal heading into the season is always to qualify for regionals as a team," Trapp said. "Everyone says that cross country is an individual sport, but all the kids want to qualify for state as a team. No. 1 is always the team."

The Bulldogs return 14 members from last year's team, which Trapp said could pay dividends for this year's squad.

Both the girls and boys teams qualified for the season-ending state championships in 2007 - the boys advanced by placing second in the regionals, the girls, fourth.

"It's always good to return a lot of runners," Trapp said. "The majority of the kids that will be on varsity have run the courses that we are going to compete on this year. They knew at the beginning of the season that we're going to work hard, and they know the kind of workouts that we are going to be doing.

"They are going to be prepared when they come to practice for what we are doing."

Trapp paces the team throughout the season, with state regionals being at the forefront of his - and all the runners' - mind.

"Basically, our peak season, which is at the end of the year, is when we work the hardest," Trapp said. "The last three weeks before regionals we have a really tough week. Then we gradually taper down and decrease the workload, and kids start to feel a lot better. Of course, that's why they run better toward the end of the year."

The Bulldogs run seven boys and seven girls at each meet of the season, with the top-five finishers used for tallying up team points.

Trapp said he knows who his top-three runners are on each team this year, but it's the No. 4 and 5 runners he's eagerly awaiting to step up.

"We have some pretty good power up front, which is going to help," he said. "Our main thing is getting our No. 4 and No. 5 runners closer to our front pack."

The teams that finish in the top-40 percent at the regional meet advance to the state championships.

So, Trapp's goal is simple:

Be in that 40 percent, and qualify for state.

"Whatever it takes to get it done," he said, "that's what we're going to do."

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