Runners put in ‘average day’
PALISADE — Instead of the need for speed, the Moffat County cross country teams were in the need for a three, as in the third runner, here Friday night.
Both Bulldog teams finished behind several teams they think they are capable of beating, and a lot of it had to do with their typical third runners finishing farther back.
“Our third runners weren’t at the level they have been,” assistant coach Jackie Katt said. “Overall, it was an average day for us.”
The Bulldog ladies (102 points) finished fourth behind Battle Mountain (37), Basalt (91) and Glenwood Springs (96). The boys team was fifth with 130 points behind Grand Junction High’s 39 points, Battle Mountain’s 88, Steamboat Springs’ 122 and Basalt’s 126.
The girls were led by freshman Alicia Nelson in seventh. Junior Amber Suits finished 12th, and then came a gap that kept the Bulldogs out of the top three. Senior Alyssa Macomber was 26th, followed by freshman Laura Zirkle in 27th, junior Katie Morris in 30th and Jeacey Robinson in 34th. Elaine DuBois cracked into the top seven for the girls with a 53rd-place finish.
Macomber returned to her early-season form to finish as the team’s third runner.
“I felt more focused today than I have been,” she said. “I’ve struggled to keep focus during races this year.”
Part of what helped was that the Palisade course is flat, especially compared with the past two hilly meets in Aspen and Summit. Times were two minutes faster Friday than last week in Aspen.
“It’s easier to stay focused on a flat course like this one because you can see the runners in front of you,” she said.
What bodes well for Macomber is that the Bulldogs will be back at the same course for the regional meet next week.
“Next week, hopefully, Jeacey will be up with me again,” Macomber said. “I’m sure she’ll be back up there.”
Junior Jeremy Bird joined Macomber as a positive performer for the teams. Ever since returning from an illness four races ago, Bird would go out in races with teammate Jake Miller but eventually would fade. On Friday, Miller once again passed Bird, but Bird held on to finish right behind his teammate. They were in second and third place, respectively.
“I’ve been pushing hard in practice, but when it came to meets, I was fading,” he said. “I felt like I had more energy in the race today.”
Bird and Miller finished behind a runner from Grand Junction who won’t be at the regional meet next week. That sets up the teammates as the favorites to win the region.
“We’ll just have to hold hands crossing the finish,” Bird joked. “We’ll push each other, and it will be a good race.”
Ricardo Pinedo was the Bulldogs’ third runner in 22nd, junior Shane Braselton was fourth in 40th, and sophomore Mike McNicol, who was the team’s third runner last week, was fifth in 63rd. Junior Jake Breslin came in at 72nd.
“I fought a lot of pain,” McNicol said. “I was just drained today for some reason.”
The Bulldogs had beat Steamboat Springs the past two meets, but the Sailors were the better team Friday.
The results set up an interesting race at regionals back here next week. If it were the regional meet Friday, both teams would have finished third. The top three teams qualify for state.
The Bulldog runners were confident that their teams would run better next week.
“We’ll be a lot better next week,” Bird said.
“I have the confidence that I can do better, and I think the team will improve, as well,” Macomber said.
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