State meet features tight competition for Moffat County cross country

3A girls state teams

Moffat County

Pagosa Springs

Bayfield

Gunnison

Aspen

Holy Family

Peak to Peak

Kent Denver

Clear Creek

Platte Canyon

Salida

Saint Mary’s

Alamosa

Colorado Academy

Buena Vista

Frontier Academy

Estes Park

Brush

University

Eaton

With the state meet looming this weekend, it’s not about getting faster for the Moffat County girls cross-country team. Instead, they’re focusing on how best to run the race.

The team will be one of 20 competing at the Colorado 3A State Cross Country Championship on Saturday at the Norris Penrose Event Center in Colorado Springs. With a host of teams running similar times to the Bulldogs at their respective regional events, no place is guaranteed when the gun goes off this weekend.

“That’s how the state meet is,” head coach Todd Trapp said. “After the first few girls come in, it’s boom-boom-boom. Ten seconds can be 10 places.”

So while it’s unlikely for a runner to improve drastically in the season’s final week after training all season, being prepared for the meet and the course in the right way can make a difference. On Tuesday, the team ran a mile at top speed in their racing shoes, a tiring activity that also will be easy to recover from for the 5-kilometer trained athletes.

The goal of that exercise is to stress the importance of a good start at the state meet, where a large field of runners can shove slower starters to the back.

There also is the mental aspect of preparing for the race, which senior Brenna Ciesco is doing by practicing the way she has all year.

“It’s still about taking every practice serious,” Ciesco said. “The season isn’t over yet. Also preparing physically and mentally for the course. That’s a tough course.”

The race winds through Bear Creek Park and features a lengthy climb during the second mile. Last year, Ciesco moved up a significant amount while running the hill and said she hopes to be able to do the same this year.

For every Bulldog running Saturday, finishing strong is important. With so many runners with similar capabilities vying for precious points as the finish line approaches, coasting through the end is not an option, Trapp said.

“You have to be ready to finish,” he said. “The mindset has to be that no one is passing you.”

Ciesco still is working on her strategy for the whole race, but she knows from experience a good finish is key.

“Last year, (the girls) fourth through 10th were all in a huge pack,” she said. “You may be able to gain a couple spots if you can finish strong.”

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

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