Expectations were high for one team and more of a question mark for the other when Moffat County’s cross-country teams ran at the regional meet in Delta Wednesday.
On both sides, those expectations were met and surpassed.
The girls team won the region by a comfortable margin, scoring 31 points and beating runner-up Middle Park by 12.
In a race that scores the top four runners, Moffat County had a big advantage in its top three. Eryn Leonard, Brenna Ciesco and Aubrey Campbell finished fifth, sixth and seventh respectively.
“When you’re scoring for and you have three in the top seven, you’re in great position,” head coach Todd Trapp said.
But the Bulldogs team depth was also on display, having six runners finish before every team except Middle Park and third-place Aspen had four cross the line.
It was the team’s second regional title in three years, and a culmination of what Trapp thought would be a talented group.
“Before the girls race we talked about how we thought we could run our best race and win the regional,” he said. “Those girls worked their way around the course and stayed in position. Our goal was to have six girls in the top 25 and we finished with six in the top 23. It was definitely an awesome day and a great accomplishment for those girls.”
While the girls team returned experience and talent and was expected to be a factor in the postseason races, the boys team lost everything from last year. A roster full of first-time cross-country runners would not deter the Moffat County boys from making a mark on the region as well.
Sophomore Jarrett Johnson, who two meets ago had not run under 19 minutes, continued his torrid improvement, finishing in eighth place overall in 17:19. Eighth put Johnson firmly in the top 15 individual runners, who all advance to the state meet.
Johnson said it came down to following his racing goals and strategy.
“It was tough,” Johnson said. “You put yourself out there and in good position. It was my goal to stay in the top 15 the first mile and keep it up the rest of the race.”
Johnson did that and more, passing several runners in the final 1000 meters to cement his spot at the state meet next week. Trapp had a feeling Johnson was capable of this type of race.
“Last year I saw Jarrett in PE classes and he ran track for about a month,” Trapp said. “There was something about him where I could tell there was a lot of talent there. Honestly I think he’s just now scratching the surface.”
While the boys team finished 10th overall, Trapp said he was proud of the group of runners who improved all season—and all can return next year.
“Tyler (Gerber)’s leg has been bothering him but he wanted to gut it out and finish the season,” Trapp said. “Maybe not the best race for him this season, but I respect someone who wants to go through and finish strong. All of our guys were down from where they were at the beginning of the season. Individually and personally they knew that they made some huge gains.”
The focus for Johnson and the girls team now turns to the Colorado State Cross-Country Championships, Oct. 27 in Bear Creek Park in Colorado Springs.
Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 875-1795 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Craig Daily Press sports coverage on Twitter at @CDP_Sports.