Coach Todd Trapp, far left, leads the Moffat County High School cross-country team in a running drill with leg lifts Tuesday at the MCHS track. The field of runners for the boys and girls teams is tallied at 18.

Photo by Andy Bockelman

Coach Todd Trapp, far left, leads the Moffat County High School cross-country team in a running drill with leg lifts Tuesday at the MCHS track. The field of runners for the boys and girls teams is tallied at 18.

Moffat County High School runners in it for long haul

Cross-country team young but capable

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— In a cross-country event, you have to pace yourself with your strides so that an early burst of speed doesn’t drain your energy when you need it most in the final stretch of the race. Moffat County High School’s boys and girls cross-country teams are preparing in this manner to ensure they can start strong at the onset and finish just as tough once the season concludes.

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From left, Moffat County High School cross-country runners Ary Shaffer, Lauren Samuelson and Kaylee Durham pace themselves during a long running session Tuesday at the MCHS track. The cross-country teams will attend their first meet of the season Thursday in Colorado Springs.

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Riley Allen, center, leads fellow Moffat County High School cross-country runners Ashley Suits, left, and Emily Womble on the grass of the football field Tuesday at the MCHS track. The team members removed their shoes for part of the practice session to cool off while still running hard.

2014 Moffat County High School cross-country schedule

Time, date — event, location

11:30 a.m. Aug. 21 — Cheyenne Mountain Stampede, Colorado Springs

9 a.m. Aug. 29 — Delta Invitational, Delta

8 a.m. Sept. 6 — St. Vrain Invitational, Lyons

TBD, Sept. 12 — Liberty Bell Invitational, Littleton

9 a.m. Sept. 20 — MCHS Invitational, Craig

TBD, Sept. 27 — MCHS Homecoming Time Trials, Craig

TBD, Oct. 9 — Rifle Invitational, Rifle

TBD, Oct. 17 — Regionals, Delta

TBD, Oct. 25 — State, TBD

Early morning practice sessions at Loudy-Simpson Park and evening stints at the MCHS track have been the tried and true methodology for coach Todd Trapp as he has spent the week getting his runners ready for regular physical activity. While most on the team have spent the summer going for runs here and there, few have done it every day for long periods, meaning getting the returning veterans back in shape is hard enough, let alone those completely new to the sport.

“They don’t run at nearly the intensity that we have been these last two days,” Trapp said at a Tuesday practice. “They're sore, they’re dehydrated, they’re trying to get back into the regular routine and we’ll jump into competing right away.”

This year, the conundrum isn’t quality but quantity, particularly for the girls team.

Trapp said the five female runners who make up the squad are very talented, but a lack of depth in the roster either could make events more difficult for them with the pressure to excel, or it could inspire them to stay hungry and live up to last year’s lineup, which clinched the regional meet and placed fifth at state last year.

“They’re going to be very competitive in whatever race we’re in, but I’m still trying to recruit some more kids just to increase our numbers,” Trapp said.

Only two seniors are part of the boys and girls teams in all, with the boys team composed of 13 runners total.

“Our guys were really young last year, and it’s been a couple years since they’ve qualified for state, but that’s something they’ll be looking to do,” Trapp said. “It’s so early, I don’t even know who all’s going to be out. We’re excited, and these kids are looking to be making some big gains.”

Sophomore Riley Allen said he plans to keep improving his times as the season goes.

“I want to break 18 (minutes) this year, maybe 17 (minutes), 30" seconds, he said, adding that his personal best last season was 18:55. “It’s a different pace this year. Running with the team, you’re always competing for a spot, and I think that’s the biggest part of adjusting to the beginning of the season.”

Trapp said Allen’s work on the track team last spring also helped strengthen his cross-country running.

Senior Lauren Samuelson is new to the long-distance running style, in her first year on cross-country while also part of the MCHS volleyball team this fall.

“I’m a sprinter in track, but (cross-country) is definitely a lot harder,” she said, catching her breath after a lengthy run around the football field, working out strategies on turns and building stamina.

The teams will hit the trail for their first event of the season, the Cheyenne Mountain Stampede in Colorado Springs, on Thursday. And though it’s important to build a good base as the season starts, where the runners of MCHS are right now will determine where they want to be in the months to follow.

“We always look to be a competitive team at the end of the season,” Trapp said.

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @CDP_Sports.

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