Daily dose of hills helps Bulldogs in Aspen | CraigDailyPress.com

Daily dose of hills helps Bulldogs in Aspen

Girls first, boys fifth at 'real cross country course'

David Pressgrove

Each day the Moffat County High School cross country team finishes its practice with a hill workout. The run up Finley Lane to the high school is what head coach Dustin Ence thinks prepares his team for hilly courses like the one it ran at in Aspen Saturday.

“That course was a real cross country course,” Ence said. “I was pretty pleased with how well we did and I think our hill everyday had something to do with our success.”

Seventeen teams attended the Aspen Invitational, including 5A teams Palmer and Dakota Ridge. The Bulldogs finished with first and fifth places for the girls and boys team respectively.

“The girls team continues to improve where I would like to see them,” Ence said. “Our younger runners like Courtney (Grandbouche) and Angela (Nelson) have started to learn to race.”

The girls finished with 33 points 20 points better than the closest team. Only the top four runners were scored at the meet, keeping the scores lower than having the normal five runners scored.

Danielle Brown won her fourth race of the season for the Bulldogs and she was followed in by Sheila McNicol in third and Laurel Mortenson in eighth. The other three varsity runners for the girls were Grandbouche, 21st, Treva Tyler, 23rd, and Nelson, 24th.

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“To have six girls in the top 25 of a race with over 100 runners shows how well we’re running right now,” Ence said.

The boys team’s fifth-place finish would have been a third-place finish if five runners had been scored. But, with the top four places counted for each team, the Bulldogs finished with 123 points four behind Montrose and three behind Cheyenne Mountain.

The Bulldogs were missing senior Tim Bailey, who took the race off because of tendinitis in his knee. He also is likely to miss the team’s next meet. Junior Kyle Eitel also is out for the season with a foot injury

“With our injuries, we are counting on some of the younger, less experienced guys to bring up the top five for us,” Ence said. “Guys like Steve Crisp, Lincoln Cleverly and Drew Lyon are going to need to be there for us.”

Bryce Ellgen and Anthony Loughran led the boys with 13th- and 21st-place finishes respectively. Juniors Justin Ellgen, 43rd, and Lyon, 46th, were the other two runners scoring for the Bulldogs. The final three runners for MCHS were Crisp, 59th, Cleverly, 71, and Chad Eitel in his first varsity race at 108.

“Bryce and Anthony are both practicing better than they are racing right now,” Ence said. “They are capable of being closer to the front pack, but it should come as we focus our workouts on speed.”

With the exception of the Ellgen brothers, most of the other runners on the team are middle-distance runners. Ence said he hopes, as the team starts to peak and works more on speed, his team will get better.

“The training we are doing right now is more of what they like,” he said. “We just need to combine the endurance work we’ve already done with the speed now to get better.”

The team travels to Palisade Friday for a preview to next week’s regional meet.

“Most of the teams will be there that will be in the region,” Ence said.

“It will also be the same course for the regional, so we’ll know what to expect.”

The course was a favorite for the boys and girls teams and Ence expects to see improved running from them.

“The boys particularly like this course since they ran their best meet there early in the season,” he said. “I hope we can get back on track because the region is going to be tight for the boys.”

David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or dpressgrove@craigdailypress.com

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