Sassy Murray, a Moffat County High School junior, competes in the 4A state cross-country meet Saturday at the Arapahoe County Fairgrounds. Murray finished in 22 minutes and 30.83 seconds to take 132nd and help lead the girls team to a 20th-place finish out of 22 teams.

Photo by Joshua Gordon

Sassy Murray, a Moffat County High School junior, competes in the 4A state cross-country meet Saturday at the Arapahoe County Fairgrounds. Murray finished in 22 minutes and 30.83 seconds to take 132nd and help lead the girls team to a 20th-place finish out of 22 teams.

MCHS runners stand strong at state

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Johnny Landa, a Moffat County High School senior, sprints toward the finish line Saturday during the 4A state cross-country meet at the Arapahoe County Fairgrounds. Landa finished 26th in the final race of his career after bouncing back from an ankle injury.

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Eryn Leonard, a Moffat County High School junior, runs past the 1-mile marker Saturday during the 4A state cross-country meet at the Arapahoe County Fairgrounds. Leonard finished 75th with a time of 21 minutes and 22.48 seconds.

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Dale Nakai, a Moffat County High School senior, competes during the 4A state cross-country meet Saturday at the Arapahoe County Fairgrounds. Nakai finished 87th with a time of 17 minutes and 58.57 seconds.

Results

The Moffat County High School varsity cross-country team’s individual results from Saturday’s 4A state meet at the Arapahoe County Fairgrounds:

Boys:

(Name — place — time)

• Alfredo Lebron — 1 — 16:24.87

• Johnny Landa — 26 — 17:32.97

• Rene Molina — 62 — 17:55.37

• Dale Nakai — 65 — 17:58.57

• Miguel Molina — 87 — 18:02.77

• Wyatt Villa — 138 — 19:00.92

• Taft Cleverly — 158 — 19:25.72

— The boys team took finished sixth overall out of 22 teams

Girls:

• Eryn Leonard — 75 — 21:22.48

• Savannah Williams — 87 — 21:38.58

• Bailey Hellander — 124 — 22:15.43

• Sassy Murray — 132 — 22:30.83

• Kelly Ciesco — 137 — 22:39.53

• Aubrey Campbell — 140 — 22:44.53

• Katharine Keiss — DNF — no time

— The girls team finished 20th overall out of 22 teams

As Rene Molina came down the final stretch of the 4A state cross-country course Saturday at the Arapahoe County Fairgrounds, his face told the story of his final 5,000-meter race.

Mouth open so he could scream out the pain and eyes squinting as he ran toward the sun, Rene, a Moffat County High School senior, gave one last push as he passed runners on his way to the finish line.

Rene clocked in at 17 minutes and 55.37 seconds to finish 62nd out of 187 runners in his final race as a Bulldog.

“I think I did pretty good,” he said. “It was a nice way to end my career.”

After the boys team won the 4A Region 5 meet Oct. 19 in Delta and the girls team took third, both teams earned the right to compete as a group Saturday.

MCHS senior Alfredo Lebron won the boys 4A state title to lead the boys team to a sixth-place overall finish out of 22 teams.

Fellow senior Johnny Landa finished in 26th place with a time of 17 minutes and 32.97 seconds, followed by Rene, senior Dale Nakai, in 65th, and senior Miguel Molina, in 87th.

Rene said heading down the final stretch, having teammates close by helps him keep pushing.

“I have to erase all the pain in my mind and go for it,” he said. “Having a full team gives a lot of confidence and each of us help the other push until the end.”

The girls team finished 20th overall out of 22 teams. Of the seven girls who ran Saturday, only two will not return next year — seniors Kelly Ciesco and Katharine Keiss.

“When you come to a state meet and you have more kids coming back, you always feel good about that,” head coach Todd Trapp said. “We have some very talented girls coming back next year and we want big things from those girls.

“You don’t just come to a state meet and do well, so you have a chance to come back and do better.”

Junior Eryn Leonard led the girls with a 75th-place finish, clocking in at 21 minutes and 22.48 seconds.

Juniors Savannah Williams, Bailey Hellander and Sassy Murray finished 87th, 124th and 132nd, respectively, while Ciesco took 137th in her final race.

Williams, who attends Hayden High School but runs for the Bulldogs, said she was happy to see a good time in her first state meet.

“I improved my time fro pre-state by about 1 minute, 15 seconds,” she said. “I think I improved a lot because I was running more as the season went on and I had all the girls there to push me.”

Landa, who hasn’t competed since the Liberty Bell Invitational on Sept. 16 because of playing on the MCHS boys varsity soccer team and suffering from bruised ligaments in his ankle, said the beginning of the race is one of the most crucial parts.

“You have to get up and get good position,” he said. “That is where the most pressure is because you have to make sure you get out. You have to push through and get over the pain.”

As the Bulldogs lose eight seniors total, Trapp said he was proud of everyone who competed Saturday, whether it was their last race or not.

“I thought we had some very good performances (Saturday),” he said. “This is a big stage with the best of (Class) 4A, so the competition level is pretty high.”

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