Photo by Hans Hallgren

In the final stretch

MCHS cross-country team headed to state

At a glance

Results

MCHS varsity cross country pre-state meet

Aug. 28, Fossil Ridge High School, Fort Collins

5K - grass/dirt

• Team results

Girls - 12/33 318 pts.

Boys - 12/32 323 pts.

• Individual results

Girls

1. Alicia Nelson 19:02.8

24. Maddy Jourgensen 21:02.0

74. Nike Cleverly 22:41.0

126. Laura Zirkle 24:29.1

166. Megan Knez 26:16.9

Boys

14. Chris Zirkle 17:18.5

54. Cory Wojtkiewicz 18:18.8

57. Colt Criswell 18:21.2

79. Alfredo Lebron 18:48.7

178. Jimmy Howe 22:01.7

N/A Jarred Blevins did not race

N/A Kye Adams junior varsity

Did you know?

MCHS harriers have won a combined 16 state titles in the school's history - second only to wrestling (23 combined titles). Here's the breakdown:

• Team titles (no girls race until 1978)

Year Team

1962 boys

1963 boys

1972 boys

1992 girls

1992 boys

1993 girls

1995 girls

1996 girls

2000 girls

• Individual titles

Year Athlete

1963 Orlie Duran

1964 Orlie Duran

1970 Charlie Vigil

1992 Jinny Mortensen

1992 Clint Wells

1995 Christina Moyer

1996 Christina Moyer

By the numbers

1 - number of times the cross-country team did not qualify a team for the state championships during coach Todd Trapp's seven-year tenure. The girls team missed the postseason in 2006.

3 - consecutive regional championships for senior Alicia Nelson.

199.71 - distance (in miles) the Bulldogs will travel Friday to Fort Collins.

3.1 - distance (in miles) the team will run during the meet.

6 - second-place finishes this season for sophomore Maddy Jourgensen.

12 - team finish for both the girls and boys teams at the pre-state meet.

15:55.5 - winning boys time at the pre-state meet.

19:02.8 - winning girls time at the pre-state meet.

2007 state participants

(finish in parenthesis)

Alicia Nelson (fourth)

Maddy Jourgensen (15th)

Nike Cleverly (85th)

Laura Zirkle (143rd)

Colt Criswell (102nd)

Cory Wojtkiewicz (167th)

— A season's worth of hard work has reached its climax.

The Moffat County High School cross country team heads to Fort Collins today to compete in the 4A state championships Saturday morning.

For the Bulldog harriers, the trip has an all-too-familiar feel.

MCHS returns to the site of the season-opening pre-state meet at Fossil Ridge High School.

But, unlike August's trial run, the Bulldogs have much more at stake this time around the 5,000-meter course.

"I know the kids, throughout the course of the year, think about it," MCHS coach Todd Trapp said about having previewed this year's state course. "Now running it, you kind of know the tough part of it. You know the turns, and you know what the footing is going to be like.

"It's valuable to go and run the course at the beginning of the year, so they have a goal and a mindset of where they're going to end their season."

Saturday marks the end of the season for all of the Bulldog harriers, and the end of a high school running career for some.

Seniors Alicia Nelson and Colt Criswell will compete on the high school level for the final time.

Nelson has qualified for state in each of her four years, while Criswell is making his third appearance.

Nelson placed fourth as a junior, Criswell 102nd; two numbers Trapp believes can be much smaller this year.

"I expect her to be right up with the top girls," Trapp said. "If she has a good day, she has a really good chance of winning the whole thing. She knows she has to run a great race, and that's what I expect, and she expects, to do."

As far as Trapp is concerned, Criswell's experience should pay dividends this weekend.

"Colt, this being his last time, he knows what to expect," he said. "He knows about competing well and what it takes to do well."

Much of the team's success this season has come from underclassmen, not gritty veterans.

Sophomores Maddy Jourgensen and Nike Cleverly helped the girls team to a third-place finish in last week's Region 5 championships in Delta, while freshman Alfredo Lebron, sophomore Chris Zirkle and junior Cory Wojtkiewicz helped pace the boys team to second.

Trapp said he thinks Jourgensen can finish in the top 10, maybe even top five, Chris Zirkle should be in the top 30, Criswell and Wojtkiewicz should run together, and Cleverly will finish much higher than last year.

"But more than anything, I just want them all to run better than they have this year," he said.

Moffat County state championship history

Moffat County has won nine state championships as a team, and seven individual champions have roamed the halls of MCHS during their high school careers.

The last was in 1996, when Christina (Moyer) Johnson won the second of her back-to-back titles.

If anybody knows what it takes to win a state cross-country title, it's Johnson.

"I just listened to my coach," Johnson said. "I was always the underdog because, you know, I came from the Western Slope, so no one expected me to win. So, my coach basically told me I could, and I got the attitude that I could. I just kept thinking about him telling me I could win, and I ended up winning by almost two minutes."

So if the formula for success is that easy : the Bulldogs can win.

Notes:

Sophomore Kevin Murray will travel with the team but won't compete because of a shin injury.

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