When it comes to importing athletes from Hayden, Moffat County High School has had success.
Chris Zirkle was the top boys Bulldog runner in 2009 as a junior, finishing sixth at state.
Taylor Branstetter rounded out the boys varsity golf team’s top three in 2009.
Ben Williams has been the ace of the MCHS baseball staff for the last two years. His brother, Jordan, was an all-conference selection for MCHS before becoming the co-rookie of the year for Colorado School of Mines in 2009.
Now, Zirkle’s classmate and Williams’ cousin will try to follow that path.
Incoming sophomore Savannah Williams, 15, will join the ranks of the MCHS girls varsity cross country team, further bolstering what was already a strong lineup.
Blue and white or black and orange, Williams said her goal remains the same.
“I just want to help this team get better, and get better myself,” she said. “I don’t think it will be that big of a change (wearing MCHS blue).”
Williams’ decision to run for MCHS came at the end of last spring, following the Tigers’ track and field season.
“I did alright in track at the end of last year,” she said. “I figured that if I did cross country, it could only help me become a better long-distance runner.”
Williams finished 13th in the girls 3,200-meters at the state meet in class 2A. Her time of 13 minutes and 8.26 seconds was the second fastest time by a freshman, after only Telluride’s Rachel Hampton, who finished 11th with a time of 12 minutes and 29.84 seconds.
This year’s MCHS girls team returns all seven of its 2009 state qualifiers, and with Williams in the fold, head coach Todd Trapp has a good problem on his hands.
“We returned a lot of solid runners from last year,” he said. “But, adding another experienced runner will definitely help.
“She has racing experience, and it’s always good to have numbers.”
Trapp said Williams’ track experience will help her as she accumulates miles with the cross country team.
“It will be a transition for her,” Trapp said. “Coming here, she will have to run more miles.
“That will be tough for a little while, but it will make her stronger.”
To get through the increased workload, Williams said she has leaned on her new teammates.
“They’re unique and friendly,” she said. “And, they are all really good runners. Everyone on the team is fast.”
Williams said the talent of the team is what she was looking for when she joined.
“I like having people push me,” she said. “I feel like I’m a better runner when I’m being pushed, and everyone on the team can push me a little bit.”
Going from two miles on a track to two-and-a-half through the woods hasn’t been too big of a change, Williams said, but she is still getting used to it.
“It’s a lot longer,” she said. “You need that same endurance, but I hope it all helps me with track.”
Although improving her track times is her long-term goal, Williams said she has a couple of short-term goals, too.
“I would like to improve my times, enjoy the season and learn something new,” she said. “Winning a state title would be special. It would definitely be cool to be a part of something like that.”