Moffat County boys cross country punches ticket to state with 3rd place at regionals
Moffat County junior Owen Gifford was already feeling confident Friday morning, Oct. 21, at the Class 3A Region 1 Cross Country Meet, but by the end of the race, he and his teammates were ready for more.
MCHS boys will take a full team to the 3A CHSAA State Championships after the Bulldogs placed third as a team during the regional event at Delta’s Confluence Park.
After working all autumn to break his personal record from last season, Gifford shredded his prior PR of 17 minutes, 24 seconds at 17:10, placing second overall behind Coal Ridge senior Tyler Parker. After he and his teammates exploded off the starting line, Gifford said they began to break apart quickly.
“It was pretty early, about a half-mile in,” he said. “That second mile was the toughest. It was really empty, nobody around for a long stretch.”
MCHS coach Todd Trapp was expecting a solid race for Gifford, who’s consistently been the boys’ fastest finisher this season, and he exceeded expectations on the 5K course.
“Big thing, coming into the season, we knew we had our work cut out for us to qualify. We talked about everyone doing their job,” Trapp said. “Owen really did his job. We were counting on him to get one of those low numbers, and that makes a big difference when you’re going to have a close race. It’s exciting that he ran his best time ever, and now he’s pretty close to breaking 17 (minutes) too.”
It wasn’t all on Gifford, though. Trapp was anticipating big results from the rest of the squad, and seniors Ian Trevenen (eighth at 17:55.9) and Boden Reidhead (14th at 18:15.5) delivered by ensuring their spots at state, which goes to the top 15 runners from each region, regardless of team results.
Reidhead, who was recovering from a recurrent cough, wasn’t sure he’d made the cut until the awards ceremony.
“It felt good, but I most likely still got 30 seconds too much,” he said. “I probably would have PR’d and finished better if I weren’t sick.”
With Middle Park not seeing any runners in the top 10 yet still winning the team title, Trapp noted that the fourth and fifth finishers on a team can make a big difference. For the Dogs, it was a runner who’s come a long way this fall.
“Carson Laehr really came through for us huge today,” Trapp said. “First day of practice he ran great, but as the season progressed, his legs started bothering him and we knew he needed to spend time cross-training than actually running. He was huge for us today in that four spot.”
Laehr, a junior, placed 32nd and senior Garrett Mercer was 34th while freshman Karson Fedinec was 40th and sophomore Travis LeFevre ranked 42.
On the road to improvement
While Moffat County boys have one more race ahead of them, Friday was the end of the line this year for the girls team, which placed seventh at regionals.
Like Gifford, sophomore Josefina Kuberry also reached a new PR, clocking in at 22:16.7 to place 30th. Freshman Camila Nunez shaved more than 20 seconds off her previous time at Confluence for 23:00 and 34th, while sophomore Alyssa LeWarne was 39th. Junior Brook Wheeler was next in 46th place, and sophomore Hannah Kilpatrick 47th.
Kilpatrick was pleased with a PR of her own, especially as she overtook a Colorado Academy runner in the home stretch.
“That’s the reason I sprinted was because I could hear her,” Kilpatrick said. “I didn’t want her to beat me and I wanted to finish strong. It’s the last race of the season, so I have to go hard.”
Junior Joslyn Bacon, senior Bella Simones and junior Nancy Nunez were in close succession at 49, 50 and 51. Bacon noted that the girls group has been focusing less on placement and more about going the distance.
“From August in general, the whole team improved their times,” she said. “I think for me it’s about attitude, we’ve been motivating each other a lot.”
Though none of them will go to state, Trapp was happy with the girls’ results.
“With the girls, we’re restarting our team, but they made some huge progress over the season,” he said. “When we came into it, they were running three miles and really struggling. Now, by the end of the season, our girls have figured out how to be more competitive and that it takes a little bit more.”
The final finish line
The state championship races take place Saturday, Oct. 29, at Colorado Springs’ Norris Penrose Event Center. Many of the Bulldogs boys are already familiar with the complex layout of the course, which they already know probably won’t be kind.
“I hope to get a PR at state, but the hills make it pretty hard,” Gifford said.
Reidhead was already reflecting at the regional race about the end of the season.
“It’s hard to think that I won’t be running again if this is the last one,” he said.
3A Region 1 Meet 5K results
Moffat County Boys — 2. Owen Gifford, 17:10; 8. Ian Trevenen, 17:55.9; 14. Boden Reidhead, 18:15;5.; 32. Carson Laehr, 19:26.7; 34. Garrett Mercer, 20:03.8; 40. Karson Fedinec, 20:19.6; 42. Travis LeFevre, 20:30.3. The team placed 3rd overall.
Moffat County Girls — 30. Josefina Kuberry, 22:16.7; 34.Camila Nunez, 23:00.3; 39. Alyssa LeWarne, 23:33.3; 46. Brook Wheeler, 24:04.2; 47. Hannah Kilpatrick, 24:18.5; 49. Joslyn Bacon, 24:23.8; 50. Bella Simones, 24:29.6; 51. Nancy Nunez, 24:29.7. The team placed 7th overall.
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