The Moffat County cross-country teams are bringing good depth and increased experience to their meets this season. The girls team's large group of seniors and juniors hopes to be among the state's best by the season's end, while the boys team is much improved with a big group of sophomore runners in the second year with the team.

Photo by Nate Waggenspack

The Moffat County cross-country teams are bringing good depth and increased experience to their meets this season. The girls team's large group of seniors and juniors hopes to be among the state's best by the season's end, while the boys team is much improved with a big group of sophomore runners in the second year with the team.

Strong returning runners for Moffat County cross country in 2013

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2013 Moffat County cross country schedule

Sept. 6 at Grand Junction Central Invitational

Sept. 13 at Liberty Bell Invitational hosted by Heritage High School in Littleton

Sept. 21 at MCHS Invitational at Loudy-Simpson Park

Sept. 28 at Anna Banana Inivitational hosted by Fruita Monument

Oct. 10 at Rifle Invitational

Oct. 18 at 3A Region 1 Meet in Delta

Oct. 26 at Colorado 3A State Meet in Colorado Springs

Whether it’s with a group of runners growing into their abilities or a team of returning members ready to step up, Moffat County cross-country has high aspirations once again for the 2013 season.

After a strong 2012 for the girls paired with a rebuilding year on the boys side, Moffat County hopes to send both teams to the state meet this year. With good depth and increased experience all around, strong individual and team performances at regionals and state are real possibilities for the Bulldogs.

Girls eye run at state

Last year’s Moffat County girls team lost three seniors from its state varsity team, but the team also had juniors and sophomores running similar times to its varsity, which has the team ready to repeat as one of the top teams on the Western Slope in 3A.

“I would not consider it a rebuilding year at all,” head coach Todd Trapp said about the girls team. “We have a front runner with Brenna (Ciesco) returning. We have our two through seven runners who are all really close, so we have good depth again. I would expect our girls to be a very competitive team in the region.”

Ciesco placed eighth as an individual in the state meet last year in her junior year and will give the Bulldogs a runner near the front of most races this year to score low points. That is a valuable asset for any cross-country team, but it is the runners behind Ciesco who will determine more of the team’s success.

Lucky for the Bulldogs, they have several capable options.

“There are a lot of girls that run close to each other’s times,” Ciesco said. “It will be good for our meets because they’ll be running together and the points will be closer together, so we’ll score lower.”

That was the case in the team’s first meet of the season, when the second through sixth runners from Moffat County finished between 40th and 73rd place.

With some runners leaving from last year’s team, Ciesco said she wasn’t sure that would be the case before the season started, but Bulldogs like Katelyn Peroulis, Emily Womble, Aubrey Campbell, Makayla Johnson and Delaney Baker have stepped up.

With good depth once again, Trapp thinks a finish like last year’s regional championship and sixth-place at state is possible.

“As the season goes on, I would say we’re going to be one of the top 10 teams in the state,” he said. “Our girls were regional champs last year and I see them being in contention when that meet comes around.”

Ciesco also thinks those kinds of finishes are available for the taking, but it will take significant work.

“I’m hoping to do better even (than last year), but we’ll see,” she said. “It will take a lot of training and effort to get there.”

Boys looking to build

The 2012 season was a very different story for the boys cross-country team, which didn’t field a single runner who had run a season of cross-country before. Now, while they still are relying on young runners to carry the load, there is at least a year of experience to work from in the coming season.

The Bulldogs have junior Jarrett Johnson back after qualifying individually for the state meet, and a large group of sophomores behind him entering their second year of competitive running. While they don’t expect to be a state champion-caliber team in 2013, they already have showed this year will be different than the last one.

At the Cheyenne Stampede meet to open the season Thursday, every varsity runner’s time was at least a minute faster than they ran a year ago. That’s the type of improvement that often can happen from learning and growing in the sport.

“We have a lot of improvement from last year at this time,” Trapp said. “That happens between freshman and sophomore year. You gain strength, you gain familiarity with cross-country and you learn how to put it on the line.”

Johnson also has noticed the significant improvement from sophomore teammates like Ashley Suits, Remmy Kohpay, Andrew Keiss, Isaac Chacon and Steven Walls. He sees it as the next step in the program’s return to prominence.

“Those younger guys they need somebody to go off of as far as what you should be doing, so it will help,” Johnson said. “It’s looking good.”

Johnson has big plans for himself individually but also thinks the team will leave its mark when the end of the season approaches.

“At the least, I see more guys going to state, qualifying on their own,” he said. “Maybe we could even get a spot as a team from regionals.”

Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 970-875-1795 or nwaggenspack@craigdailypress.com

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