An inviting run: Moffat County cross country teams quick on their feet at home meet
Though they run along paths they’ve followed countless times, it’s never the same race twice during Moffat County High School cross country’s home meet.
Saturday’s Bulldog Invitational was the biggest it’s been in years, as 11 total schools took to Loudy-Simpson Park to put their long-distance perseverance to the test.
MCHS boys finished first overall among teams with Carter Severson taking third behind perennial competitors like Soroco’s Ben Kelley (16:54) and Rangely’s Patrick Scoggins (17:36), first and second, respectively.
However, since neither had a full team, Severson’s 17:49 gave him first in terms of team points in the field of 96, closely followed by teammate Chris Carrouth, from Hayden.
Though staying close much of the race, Severson broke away to finish about 10 seconds ahead of Carrouth, though neither takes the other for granted as a motivator to do their best.
“Really glad to have Chris on our team so we can push each other like that every week,” Severson said.
Wyatt Mortenson placed sixth, Brandon Beason seventh and Coltyn Terry 12th to give the Bulldog boys their team victory, with Keaton Knez (17th) and Grant Wade (30) rounding out the varsity runners.
Boys were also represented by Josh Worster (34), Colin Jensen (50), Tyler Driggs (53), AJ Barber (55), Wilson Eike (59) and Jared Atkin (64).
In the girls race, MCHS faced daunting competition, including Sydney Thorvaldson of Rawlins, Wyoming, who continued a stellar season with a first place finish in Craig at 18:04, nearly two full minutes ahead of the nearest contender, Steamboat Springs’ Maggi Congdon.
“It’s a tough thing with her,” MCHS coach Todd Trapp said of Torvaldson, who also blew by everyone while Moffat County was in Saratoga, Wyoming, last week. “She’s so far out in front, they don’t even think about her, and it’s the rest of the field that’s competing. Still, she’s an awesome runner.”
With two dozen harriers, the Sailors won as a group with all points coming from the top 10, while Hayden’s Makenna Knez finished ninth for the Bulldogs at 21:50. Emaleigh Papierski was a mere six seconds behind for 11th, Kelsey McDiffett only two seconds behind her for 12th.
In fourth for Moffat County and 16th overall was Liberty Hippely, who took a tumble midway through the race to extend her time, though Trapp noted such an experience helps athletes cope with any kind of terrain.
“Slippery course, and you know, that’s cross country,” he said. “They train out here every day, but it’s still slippery.”
Right behind Hippely in 17th was Madie Weber, Allison Villard in 20th and Lydia Berkoff and Tate Severson ranking 45th and 49th in what was a second-place day for Moffat County girls.
Leading up to the high school races was the junior high level, which saw some miscommunications with a handful of runners affecting times and placing, though Logan Hafey led CMS boys, finishing in third place in a 2.5-mile event.
“We added the hill this year, which kids were pleased with, so it’s closer to a 4K,” said coach Chad Backsen. “They’re definitely ready for it.”
The day was a first official meet on the course for some of the younger runners, as well as some of the older ones.
Though a senior at MCHS, Wade is new to the fall sport, which he plans to use to stay in shape for spring track.
“I just decided, why not, this way it’ll give me an advantage,” he said. “The course is really tough.”
Altogether, Moffat County boys have six seniors — Wade, Driggs, Barber, Jensen, Worster and Beason.
“It was a pretty good last home race, I felt really good this time. I wasn’t feeling too hot the last couple, but I feel like I really pulled it together,” Beason said. “We all had a really good effort, got things done. Trapp’s game plan for us was to work as a pack through the first few races, then toward the end, picking it up and bringing the speed in.”
An Oct. 12 meet in Rifle will be the last regular season race before Oct. 20’s regional championships in Delta.
And, before Rifle, Trapp intends to put runners through their paces with some intense workouts.
“Tough week of training distance-wise and pace-wise, even with Homecoming,” he said. “We’ll be adding a mile to their long run so some of the kids are up to eight or nine miles on that, then we’ll taper it from there.”
The prospect of continual improvement is what drew Papierski to the sport in her freshman year, and she said she looks forward to three more years of increasing her speed and endurance.
“I love how competitive it is, and you can set so many goals. As a team, we train hard together, then compete hard together,” she said.