Cross country teams capture titles
The Moffat County boys and girls cross country teams traveled to the Central Invite at Grand Junction Friday in what turned out to be a reunion for head coach Dustin Ence. The MCHS coach was reunited with his high school coach Randy Cooper, who is now at Palisade.
“I was probably just as nervous as the kids when the races started,” Ence said. “I have a lot of respect for (Cooper), and it was exciting to be racing against him.”
Ence’s teams made the reunion even sweeter as both ran way with the team championships.
The girls, led by senior Danielle Brown’s first-place finish, scored 35 points, finishing 14 points ahead of Class 5A Fruita Monument. The boys team packed it up for 38 points, 18 ahead of Cooper’s Palisade team.
The meet, which had less than seven teams in each race, was a change from the first weekend in which the Bulldog harriers lined up against at least 25 teams in each race.
“It was good to go to a smaller meet for both of the teams,” Ence said. “It helped their confidence, and it was easier for them to see each other and work together.”
The boys team was able to run together better than the previous weekend with the split between their first finisher and fifth finisher only 1:30, a 30-second improvement.
Senior Bryce Ellgen and junior Anthony Loughran led the boys, coming in third and fourth respectively. Senior Tim Bailey worked his way back to the third position on the team with a seventh-place finish. He was followed closely by juniors Justin Ellgen (11th) and Drew Lyon (14th).
“I was most impressed by Tim Bailey’s race,” Ence said. “He has struggled a little early but this may have given him some confidence to get up there with Bryce and Anthony.”
In the girls race, Brown took the lead in the early stages and didn’t look back. She earned her first victory of the season and became only the second girl in 4A to break 20 minutes in a race this season. Seniors Laurel Mortensen and Sheila McNicol continued to provide a strong two-three combination for the Bulldogs as they finished third and fourth respectively. They also broke 20 minutes in the race with times of 19:45 and 19:48 but Ence said he predicted that the course was about 20 seconds short. Completing the top five for MCHS was junior Camilla Bird, who placed 11th, and senior Treva Tyler, who placed 16th.
“I think our top three have a legitimate chance to battle for the individual state title,” Ence said. “To have a chance for the team title, the girls still need to work on bringing the fourth, fifth and sixth girls up closer to our top three seniors.”
Other notable performances for the Bulldogs were by freshmen Lincoln Cleverly and Courtney Grandbouche. They were the sixth finishers on both teams as Cleverly finished 18th and Grandbouche was 19th in the girls race.
The teams will head back to the Denver area for the Liberty Bell Invitational on Friday.
“After this weekend we should have seen all of the top racers in the state,” Ence said.
“We should have a pretty good idea of where we stand.”
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