Moffat County High School runners Chris Zirkle, left, and Alfredo Lebron, center in blue, take off at the beginning of the Anna Banana Memorial Wildcat Invitational on Saturday in Grand Junction. Zirkle and Lebron placed first and second respectively in the boys race, while the boys cross-country team placed first overall. The girls team placed second overall.

Matthew Scoggins/Courtesy

Moffat County High School runners Chris Zirkle, left, and Alfredo Lebron, center in blue, take off at the beginning of the Anna Banana Memorial Wildcat Invitational on Saturday in Grand Junction. Zirkle and Lebron placed first and second respectively in the boys race, while the boys cross-country team placed first overall. The girls team placed second overall.

MCHS boys cross-country places 1st, girls 2nd at weekend meet

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The regional tournament for cross-country will not take place for nearly three weeks, but if his runners keep performing at their current level, Todd Trapp sees no reason why they can’t look to the Oct. 23 meet in Cortez with high expectations.

The Moffat County High School cross-country team finished strongly at Saturday’s meet in Grand Junction, the Anna Banana Memorial Wildcat Invitational hosted by Fruita Monument High School. The boys team placed first overall, with the girls taking second.

Trapp said that not only did most of his runners show marked improvement from their times at the Sept. 25 home meet, but many also set their personal bests at the Fruita tournament.

Leading the team were senior Chris Zirkle and junior Alfredo Lebron, who placed first and second respectively for their fourth consecutive meet, with Zirkle finishing only steps ahead of his teammate with a time of 15 minutes 52 seconds.

The MCHS runners were two of eight runners throughout the day to finish under the National Elite standard — 16:30 for boys and 19:45 for girls.

Zirkle and Lebron also were the only two runners at the meet to break 16 minutes.

“You have to be a really good runner to break 16,” Trapp said. “It’s the first time they’ve done it. They’re both really excited that they ran that fast and in how they’re coming along.”

Also setting a personal best was Maddy Jourgensen, who placed fourth with a time of 19:33, also edging out the National Elite. The MCHS senior said that in retrospect, she could have done better.

“It really wasn’t my best race,” she said.

Jourgensen, who placed first at the MCHS home meet, said she was somewhat disappointed by how far she trailed behind the three girls who finished before her, with Grand Valley’s Brandi Krieg clocking in first at 18:31.

“There were a lot of big gaps,” she said. “It was hard to catch up.”

Trapp said the activities of Homecoming week made it hard for his team to focus on practicing, and the early morning requirements of the meet had a negative effect on them, as well.

“We left at 5:30 (a.m.), so it wasn’t the best setup to have a really good race,” he said. “But, they all competed really well.”

A shortage in team members affected them, as well, with junior Dale Nakai and sophomores Eryn Leonard and Bailey Hellander not participating, among other members.

“You put those two girls back in, and it’s definitely going to be a different outcome,” Trapp said.

The remaining members of the girls team picked up the slack, with freshman Brenna Ciesco finishing eighth, senior Nike Cleverly 20th, sophomore Sassy Murray 30th, Hayden High School sophomore Savannah Williams 40th and sophomore Rose Howe 55th.

For the boys, junior Rene Molina came in 16th, junior Miguel Molina 17th, senior Kye Adams 45th, senior Jarred Blevins 60th and freshman Taft Cleverly 65th.

Blevins said he felt like he didn’t run to his full potential.

“I didn’t eat breakfast, and that really shot me in the foot,” he said. “My head just wasn’t in the right place.”

Blevins said he expects the team’s Saturday meet in Englewood to have better results.

“I should do a lot better there,” he said.

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