For Moffat County High School senior Maddy Jourgensen, getting back into stride was something that began with some difficulty, but became easier with each step.
Jourgensen was among the 19 members of the MCHS cross country team who competed in Saturday’s Liberty Bell Invitational hosted by Littleton’s Heritage High School.
The boys and girls teams each took home a fourth-place finish, the boys with a score of 150 and the girls with 124.
Jourgensen led the way for the girls, coming in ninth place for the Division 3, Girls A category with a time of 19 minutes and 50 seconds.
She said the day was a good return for her after two weeks without running competitively because of tendonitis in her hip.
“I was really feeling strong,” she said. “I felt good throughout the whole thing. I didn’t know what to expect, but I had no idea I’d do so well.”
The invitational, a three-mile run, yielded strong results for all MCHS competitors, with sophomore Eryn Leonard trailing Jourgensen with a time of 20 minutes and 19 seconds, ranking 14th, while freshman Brenna Ciesco came in 26th with 21 minutes and nine seconds, only two seconds in front of senior Nike Cleverly, whose 21 minutes and 11 seconds garnered her 27th place.
Rounding out the results for the Girls A race were sophomore Sassy Murray in 48th, junior Kelly Ciesco in 77th and sophomore Rose Howe in 93rd.
For the Girls B race, sophomore Jaycee McCoy came in 45th place, freshman Jessie Suits in 145th and senior Emily Miller 168th.
Head coach Todd Trapp said the Liberty Bell meet was larger in terms of participation, requiring different divisional rankings.
“A is the varsity race, and the B is JV,” he said. “There’s about 20 teams in the boys division and 20 in the girls division. It’s a completely different kind of meet — much more competitive, stakes are much higher. The kids are pretty jacked up to run and compete against some really good people.”
In the Boys A race, senior Chris Zirkle repeated his first-place finish from Sept. 10’s Warrior Invitational in Grand Junction, as did second-place finisher, junior Alfredo Lebron, who was only three seconds behind his teammate.
Zirkle said his time, 16 minutes and two seconds, was a personal best.
“I got off to a pretty quick start, and I was just trying to stay ahead the whole time and Alfredo was right there with me,” he said. “I felt really tired halfway through, but I didn’t want to quit.”
Following Zirkle and Lebron in the A race were junior Rene Molina in 37th, junior Dale Nakai in 43rd, senior Jarred Blevins in 74th, junior Wyatt Villa in 94th and freshman Taft Cleverly in 98th.
In the Boys B race, senior Kye Adams finished 14th with 19 minutes and 1 second, with sophomore Matt Hulstine only one second behind him in 15th.
Adams said he has improved his running greatly in the last year.
“Last year, my times were in the 20s, and now they’re at 19,” Adams said. “I want to get them under 18.”
Trapp said the flatness of the Liberty Bell course helped his runners perform.
“They’re all getting some of their best times at this point,” he said.
Trapp added that Saturday’s home meet at Loudy-Simpson Park will provide good times because his runners know the course.
“It’ll help us focus on the team aspect of it,” he said.
One team member has specific plans for the meet.
“I really want to win it this weekend,” Jourgensen said.