Putting in the legwork: Positive outcomes at state set Moffat County XC runners on long-term road to success
The showing for Moffat County High School runners at the cross country state finals was not only a strong finish for an altogether solid season but also an indicator that Bulldogs will be going the distance in the coming years.
MCHS went all out during the 3A Colorado High School Activities Association State Championships Saturday in Colorado Springs, with the Moffat County girls team placing 13th and boys 15th.
Among 152 runners, Carter Severson maintained the lowest time for Bulldog boys, crossing the finish line at 17 minutes, 30 seconds and placing 43rd in the 5K race.
Following a personal record time at the Bulldogs’ regional meet, where he placed second, the day was full of ups and downs for Severson and every other runner, for that matter, with the terrain of the Norris Penrose Event Center always a challenge.
“The hills are definitely the toughest part of it, a lot more of those than other courses we run,” Severson said.
Even so, he took his best time on the course, an improvement of more than a full minute compared to last year’s state race and a vast jump from the season opener Cheyenne Mountain Stampede at the same venue, where he clocked in at 19:02.
“He’s had a tough time on this course, so he’s happy to finally have a breakthrough race and get that monkey off his back,” said MCHS coach Todd Trapp. “Really good race, very competitive.”
The cool conditions in Colorado Springs this weekend were a far cry from the August heat felt during the Stampede and the unseasonably warm atmosphere of 2016’s state meet, a change for which Liberty Hippely had no complaints to register.
“I think with my mental mindset, I was just really prepared,” she said. “It’s way easier to run when it’s cold like that.”
Following a difficult few weeks of running, Hippely was back in front for the Bulldog girls with her best time in a month — 20:58.6 — to place 63rd among 160 girls.
“She wasn’t happy with some of the races she’s run lately, so she was driven and focused today, had some really awesome results,” Trapp said.
Trapp noted that Hippely was also the top state finisher for MCHS girls last season, and five of the six competitors Saturday were able to come in under her 2016 state time of 21:33.1.
Emaleigh Papierski finished 69th at 21:07.9; Hayden’s Makenna Knez 78th, 21:20.6; Kelsey McDiffett 80th, 21:21.4; Madie Weber 81st, 21:21.8; and Allison Villard 108th, 22:13.5.
“Amazing accomplishments across the board,” Trapp said.
For boys, Wyatt Mortenson’s 17:39 ranked him 50th and Hayden’s Chris Carrouth was 70th at 17:59.6. Coltyn Terry followed (18:29.2, 111th), as did Grant Wade (19:02.7, 140th), Keaton Knez (19:16.8, 145th) and Josh Worster (19:29.6, 150th).
With the exception of the Severson and Carrouth, Saturday’s event was the first time at high school state for the majority of the boys team. MCHS cross country had no seniors on the girls team this season, and there were only a handful of upperclassmen for the boys, including Wade, Worster and state alternate Colin Jensen.
“Those seniors that came out for the first time were a big part of our team, and we’re gonna miss those guys,” Trapp said. “We also had a really great freshman class, and those kids will step into our top spots and be really competitive.”
The roster will remain largely the same next fall, and athletes anticipate some even better seasons to come.
“We’ve just to keep up the hard work and get those freshmen next year running hard,” Severson said. “We did really well this year after losing some good seniors last year, so I’m really proud of everyone.”
Trapp added that it was another successful season from runners who continue to meet and surpass his expectations.
“This is a really great group of kids to work with, and as coaches we’re lucky to work with kids who aren’t afraid to work hard and make some sacrifices in order to be great athletes,” Trapp said.