Moffat County High School seniors Rene Molina, middle, and Miguel Molina, left, try to fight off a Rangely runner Saturday during the MCHS Cross-Country Invitational at Loudy-Simpson Park. Rene and Miguel passed the Rangely athlete at the last second to take ninth and 10th, respectively, and help lead the boys team to a first-place finish.

Photo by Joshua Gordon

Moffat County High School seniors Rene Molina, middle, and Miguel Molina, left, try to fight off a Rangely runner Saturday during the MCHS Cross-Country Invitational at Loudy-Simpson Park. Rene and Miguel passed the Rangely athlete at the last second to take ninth and 10th, respectively, and help lead the boys team to a first-place finish.

MCHS cross-country team shows strong at home meet

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Eryn Leonard, a Moffat County High School junior, battles a Uintah runner on the nature trails Saturday during the MCHS Cross-Country Invitational at Loudy-Simpson Park. Leonard went on to finish second place to lead the girls team to a second-place overall finish at the lone home meet of the season.

Results

The Moffat County High School varsity cross-country team’s individual results from Saturday’s MCHS Cross-Country Invitational at Loudy-Simpson Park:

Boys team:

(Name — place — time)

• Alfredo Lebron — 1 — 16:11

• Dale Nakai — 3 ­— 17:17

• Rene Molina — 9 — 18:14

• Miguel Molina — 10 — 18:15

• Taft Cleverly — 16 — 18:51

• Wyatt Villa — 18 — 19:01

• Matt Hulstine — 27 — 20:14

— The boys finished in first place.

Girls team:

• Eryn Leonard — 2 — 20:06

• Bailey Hellander — 3 — 21:12

• Sassy Murray — 7 — 21:39

• Savannah Williams — 9 — 21:44

• Aubrey Campbell — 11 — 22:00

• Katherine Keiss — 12 — 22:04

• Kelly Ciesco — 15 — 22:16

— The girls finished in second place.

About 100 meters from the finish line, three runners were neck and neck Saturday at Loudy-Simpson Park.

On the right was Rene Molina, and on the left, Miguel Molina.

In between the two Moffat County High School seniors was a Rangely athlete.

The three runners were fighting for the final two spots in the top 10 of the MCHS Cross-Country Invitational.

“After running three miles, I just closed my eyes and gave it everything I had left,” Miguel said. “If you think too much, you won’t be able to go as hard as you can and (Rene and I) both wanted to beat the Rangely kid.”

Rene pulled in front and Miguel sprinted just behind, as the cousins took ninth and 10th, respectively.

Their finishes gave the boys team four placers in the top 10 — fellow seniors Alfredo Lebron and Dale Nakai took first and third, respectively — and pushed the boys team to a first-place overall finish at its lone home meet of the season.

“Everyone competed very well,” head coach Todd Trapp said.

“In the first part of the race, the second group of guys came out a little slower than we wanted, but they made it up and progressed and pushed toward the end.”

Sophomore Taft Cleverly finished 16th, senior Wyatt Villa took 18th and junior Matt Hulstine came in 27th.

The girls team earned second-place overall, led by junior Eryn Leonard, who also finished second.

Juniors Bailey Hellander, Sassy Murray and Savannah Williams finished third, seventh and ninth respectively.

Freshman Aubrey Campbell was four seconds from finishing in the top 10, taking 11th place.

Seniors Katherine Keiss and Kelly Ciesco finished 12th and 15th, respectively.

In the home stretch, Rene said it is difficult to give any more, but having a teammate right there helps.

“You can feel their encouragement as you run,” he said. “With two of us and only one opponent, it was easier fighting him off with Miguel right there.”

Miguel was coming off playing for the MCHS varsity football team Friday night and had to compete on the cross-country course about 12 hours later.

However, having a home crowd line the course made him push through the fatigue.

“Like football, you get a lot of encouragement when you are competing in front of a big home crowd,” he said. “It gets you more pumped and excited to do better, so while I felt the effects of the football game, running at home helped.”

Rene said while cross-country doesn’t have the typical home-field advantage, there are perks to running on the home course.

“We know all the trails and all the corners we can cut to lower our times,” he said. “We had a tough week, but in the end I erased all pain and just dropped my arms and went for it.”

The girls team was two points from finishing in first place, being edged out by Uintah High School from Vernal, Utah.

Trapp said if one MCHS runner had passed a Uintah runner, it would have been tied at the end.

However, sophomore Brenna Ciesco could not finish the race due to injury.

“We were not at full strength and that made it difficult,” Trapp said. “We had some low numbers from our girls, but it came down to two points and if we would have been one place ahead of a Uintah runner, it would have been different.”

Both MCHS teams compete in the Pat Patten Invitational on Saturday in Boulder.

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