Moffat County cross country finishes strong at state
COLORADO SPRINGS — That’s a wrap for the fall running season as the Moffat County High School cross country teams ended their season at the top tier.
Bulldog runners hit the trail Saturday at the 3A CHSAA State Championships at Colorado Springs’ Norris Penrose Event Center amid the pack of the best high school harriers in Colorado, with MoCo girls earning 11th of 20 teams and boys 13th.
For the second consecutive year, Wyatt Mortenson led the boys team in time and placing at state, clocking in at 17:32.2, ranking 20th amid the field of 156.
A season that has been difficult for the Hayden runner saw him more than a little frustrated with his final results.
Mortenson said right after the one-mile mark, he started feeling like the race wasn’t going his way, though he was determined to give his best.
“It wasn’t what I wanted. I kind of had a bad race, but I gave it everything I had,” he said. “I kind of just shut down. I just didn’t have it. Some of these kids did, I just didn’t.”
While injuries earlier this year kept Mortenson from the top 10 finish that he achieved last year — placing ninth in 2018 at 16:37.7 — his teammates saw big jumps in their state results.
After being the 100th runner to cross the line last year, Coltyn Terry finished 41st at 18:00.2, while Keaton Knez took the exact same time of 18:10, but improved in the standings from 70 last year to 51st.
In their first time running at state, Kale Johnson placed 131, Ian Trevenen 138, Noah Mortenson 139 and Wilson Eike 154.
Bulldogs head coach Todd Trapp said with Eike as the lone senior for the boys team, six of the seven state runners should be back at Norris Penrose in 2020.
“Getting that experience here, I hope they’re hungry. They definitely should be hungry for next year,” Trapp said.
After finishing third as a group a week earlier at the 3A Region 1 Meet, the Bulldog boys were behind eighth-place Bayfield but nonetheless had better team results than perennial regional rivals Gunnison, with the Cowboys 15th.
The Bulldogs’ female runners also took third at regionals, with Western Slope girls coming to state with determination, as Basalt’s Sierra Bower easily took the individual championship — setting a 3A course record along the way — leading the Longhorns to third as a team, with Aspen taking fifth and MCHS just six points out of the top 10.
Wyatt Mortenson — 17:32.2; 20
Coltyn Terry — 18:00.2; 41
Keaton Knez — 18:10; 51
Kale Johnson — 20:10.7; 131
Ian Trevenen — 20:37.5; 138
Noah Mortenson — 20:39.9; 139
Wilson Eike — 22:03.4; 154
— The team placed 13th overall.
Kelsey McDiffett — 21:00.3; 36
Halle Hamilton — 21:45.4; 64
Emma Jones — 21:55.8; 72
Emaleigh Papierski — 22:05; 78
Stephenie Swindler — 22:36.7; 93
Alayna Behrman — 22:41.3; 94
Bree Meats — 23:56.3; 129
— The team placed 11th overall.
Kelsey McDiffett whittled down her finish from 51st in 2018 to 36th at 21:00.3, while Halle Hamilton followed in 64th at 21:45.4.
After being the last of the team to finish last year, Emma Jones took 72nd at 21:55.8, with Emaleigh Papierski 78th at 22:05 in her first state XC race since 2017.
First-time state runners Stephenie Swindler, Alayna Behrman and Bree Meats took 93rd, 94th and 129th, respectively.
Like the boys’ team, the girls have only one athlete — Swindler — they’ll be losing to graduation.
McDiffett said she and her teammates were happy with how things shook out and that the weather certainly played a factor.
“I was feeling confident at the start, I think we all were,” McDiffet said. “It’s just really hot compared to what we’re used to because it snowed all week. We were just pretty dehydrated. We had cotton-mouth really bad.”
For the past few weeks, the Bulldogs have been running in colder temperatures while gearing up for the state championships.
So, when the team encountered 70-degree weather Saturday, they had to plan ahead and prepare for the sudden heat.
“Coming into the race, it’s gonna be warmer. We didn’t think it was gonna be 70, but coming down we know it’s going to be warmer here,” Trapp said. “We just talked about hydrating, being smart, staying out of the sun as much as possible. Training in cold weather and coming to run in hot weather is definitely tough.”
Wyatt Mortenson said the warmth certainly surprised him and said he didn’t think his body calibrated with it in time.
“A lot of these kids are from Denver and they can adjust,” he said. “My body, I don’t know if it’s very good at doing that.”