Moffat County cross-country runners see benefits in varied terrain of home course
For the Craig Press
Cool, shady pathways; vast, open fields; sloping, challenging hills.
Moffat County High School’s home cross-country meet had all sorts of conditions wrapped up in one 5K course, and the experience runners gained will only make them stronger going forward with the last few weeks of the season.
MCHS gutted it out Saturday during the Moffat County Invite at Loudy-Simpson Park, with an array of races leading up to the high school event.
With the Friends of Moffat County Education Leaf Cruncher 5K kicking off the morning, the day continued with the 2-mile race for junior high runners.
With only a handful of Meeker and Rangely runners among them, Craig Middle School’s boys team won the event as a group, led by Karson Fedinec at a time of 18:01.4, with teammates Oliver Browning, Kurtis Kuberry, Will Tucker and Tristan Walks taking the rest of the top five.
CMS girls placed second behind Rangely, with Lia Boulware taking fifth (21:26.7), Niyla Ennis 11th, Adalynn Wall 13th, Avia Miles 14th, and Penelope Davis 15th to contribute to the team results.
While middle school runners saw an almost entirely level course, the high school athletes had more up and down in store.
MoCo head coach Todd Trapp said that last year he had altered the design of the course around Loudy that he had used for many seasons prior out of necessity. Construction at the park in fall, 2020, required him to make the change, though he kept the adjustments, including a pass midway through as runners exit the tree-filled Nature Trail.
“I’m going to keep it this way,” Trapp said. “This turn is a little bit more loose, there’s a little more space and it flows good. People can watch without having to move around as much.”
He added that college-level distance races have utilized more spectator-friendly course designs.
MCHS senior Alex Nichols noted that the shade and uncomplicated conditions at the start of the event could be misleading.
“It’s really easy to go too fast on the first mile because you’re going through the Nature Trail, and it doesn’t feel like it’s that long,” Nichols said. “Sometimes you’ve gotta pull back a little bit so you can really push it on the back half of the race.”
Just after the second of three miles come the hills that mark Loudy’s southern boundary.
“That hill is at a tough part in the race. You’re at two-and-a-quarter miles, and then you start climbing. You’re going to find out who’s tough and who can finish,” Trapp said.
Sophomore Owen Gifford and junior Garrett Mercer said the change in terrain proved trickier than they planned.
“I went too fast at the start. It felt good, so I just kept going with it. On the first hill, that’s where I burned out a little,” Gifford said.
Mercer said that as hard as the incline can be, the shift coming off the hill can be even more difficult.
“It’s a lot of work because you have all that momentum, and it’s so easy to run until you get to the flat part and you really have to push yourself to keep going,” he said.
Mercer was also wearing thick, sporty sunglasses, which he said are a must in most races.
“When you’re running out in the middle of nowhere and have no shade whatsoever, they come in really helpful,” he said.
After running for CMS in past years, MoCo freshmen Hannah Kilpatrick and Alyssa LeWarne said the hill was daunting but not impossible.
“In practice, the hill definitely seemed harder than it was in the actual race, but I think all the adrenaline helped me get up there. I felt this course was a lot more fun than the middle school one,” Kilpatrick said. “There’s some meets where it’s just incline, incline, incline, or it’s just flat.”
LeWarne added that the distance difference compared to junior high is something she’s been noticing.
“It’s a lot harder to pace yourself than in middle school. It’s only one mile longer, but it seems like a lot more,” she said. “It’s not like other sports, like basketball you can have multiple things you’re good at, but in this if the course is hard, there’s not much you can do about it. It’s a lot harder to get around that curve or past that wall and get better.”
The final moments of the race were in the park proper as runners tore across the grass to the finish line.
Junior Ian Trevenen was the first of the MCHS boys team to complete the race, taking a point of pride in overtaking two runners in the final seconds.
“Halfway down the last stretch during the finish, that’s where I kicked out,” he said. “The second mile, I was definitely feeling it, but that third mile you just cruise on through.”
Trevenen said he’s been pleased with his teammates’ capability of keeping close throughout races.
“Right now what we’re doing well in meets is staying together and keeping in packs really well,” he said. “Toward the end, some people kind of fall back, some people go ahead. Finishing together is very important, because once we get that pack going, we can push each other to beat people at the very end. That’s where it really matters getting those few extra spots and points.”
Trapp agreed that pack running is the way to go.
“We’ve just gotta tighten that gap up with our No. 5,” he said.
Trevenen placed sixth of 60, hitting his personal record time of 18:40.2. Gifford ranked ninth at 18:42.5, Hayden senior Kale Johnson 10th at 18:55.5. Top 10 runners all took home a race t-shirt complete with a Ziggy Stardust lightning bolt over a Bulldog face, designed by MCHS assistant coach Jennifer Pressgrove.
Junior Boden Reidhead was close behind, just outside the top 10 at 11th (19:14.6), and Nichols was 23rd with a season-best 20:30.3.
Senior Kadin Hume had his best race of the fall at 21:19.4 and ranking 32nd, while Mercer finished 35th at 21:32.8.
Freshman Travis LeFevre PR’d at 22:46, while senior Chase Serio was a few seconds behind his best time this fall, yet still pleased with his finish.
“I was a bit slower than last time, but it went good. I had a good stretch going up the hill,” Serio said. “I just want to get as good as I can going into the end. I want to enjoy senior year as much as I can.”
MCHS boys placed second as a group behind a stacked Steamboat Springs roster, with senior Sailor Bowden Tumminello winning outright.
MoCo girls also were runners-up behind Steamboat, though Rangely’s Mary Scoggins was the winner of the day in that race.
MCHS seniors Halle Hamilton, Emma Jones, and Bree Meats were each in the top 10, with Hamilton narrowly beating out Jones in the final stretch, the two finishing fourth and fifth of 50 as both clocked in at 21:26.9, while Meats was eighth at 22:02.
Sophomores Brook Wheeler and Joslyn Bacon took 17th and 24th as the final MoCo runners to record points, with junior Marta Pelanconi 27th.
LeWarne and Kilpatrick ended the morning in close quarters with PR’s of 27:59.5 and 28:13.
“I’m really trying to push to get under 28 minutes. I’m pretty close to doing that, so my goal is to get 30 seconds under that,” Kilpatrick said.
Hana Jezekova of Slovakia is one of four exchange students on the girls cross-country team — including Pelanconi and Giulia Ciampini of Italy and Spain’s Natalia Lopez — and took 39th in her first race this season.
“I’m so happy because I was under 30 minutes, so I think I did really well,” Jezekova said.
Lopez took 43rd and Ciampini 48th, while MCHS freshman Danka Miller cut more than 3 minutes off her time in her second distance race so far, placing 49th.
“The kids are working hard, practices are going well. Those are the things you ask of kids, to put in quality effort and we’re training toward the end of the season, just keep plugging away,” Trapp said.
Following the home meet, this will be arguably their most grueling week of practice leading into Oct. 7’s Warrior Lincoln Park Classic in Grand Junction.
“That’s a total flat, pancake speed course. The kids are excited about running that one and having the opportunity to set a season best. It’s at a perfect time for us to hit faster times,” Trapp said.
MCHS cross-country’s regular season will conclude in Craig, with Oct. 15’s second annual Whistle Pig Invite at Yampa Valley Golf Course.
“The golf course is going to be really fast too. I changed that one too a bit to speed it up. That one’s going to roll, it’ll be fun,” Trapp said.
Moffat County High School cross country results at Moffat County Invitational
Runner Time; Place
Ian Trevenen 18:40.2; 6
Owen Gifford 18:42.5; 9
Kale Johnson 18:55.5; 10
Boden Reidhead 19:14.6; 11
Alex Nichols 20:30.3; 23
Kadin Hume 21:19.4; 32
Garrett Mercer 21:32.8; 35
Travis LeFevre 22:46; 43
Chase Serio 23:17.3; 47
Halle Hamilton 21:26.9; 4
Emma Jones 21:26.9; 5
Bree Meats 22:02; 8
Brook Wheeler 24:28; 17
Joslyn Bacon 25:15.9; 24
Marta Pelanconi 26:25; 27
Alyssa LeWarne 27:59.5; 34
Hannah Kilpatrick 28:13; 34
Hana Jezekova 28:39.9; 39
Natalia Lopez 29:30.6; 43
Giulia Ciampini 33:30.5; 48
Danaka Miller 35:01.9; 49
—MCHS teams both placed second.
Craig Middle School cross country results
Karson Fedinec 18:01.4; 1
Oliver Browning 18:03.1; 2
Kurtis Kuberry 18:21.9; 3
Will Tucker 18:55.1; 4
Tristan Walks 19:00.5; 5
Ryun Pressgrove 19:36.7; 7
Zach Womble 21:54.2; 11
Nathan LeFevre 23:10.5; 12
Nicholas Bailey 24:18.4; 13
Lia Boulware 21:26.7; 5
Niyla Ennis 22:26.6; 11
Adalynn Wall 25:06.2; 13
Avia Miles 25:06.4; 14
Penelope Davis 26:15; 15
Andrea Thomas 28:03.7; 16
Ari White 28:21.1; 17
—CMS boys placed first, girls second.
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