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Running in the rough

Moffat County cross country teams overcome obstacles at meetin in Rifle

David Pressgrove

Moffat County High School track coach Dustin Ence could not believe his eyes when he stepped off the bus for Saturday’s cross country meet in Rifle.

“In all of my years, running that course was the most rough and rugged I’ve ever seen,” he said. “After walking the course, I had reservations about having (the team) compete.”

The course, which was west of Rifle, was marked out through a barren park that, according to Rifle runners, was mostly used for “shooting practice and parking.”

The course was littered with rocks, holes and an occasional shotgun shell or broken bottle.

Ence said he feared that his athletes would twist an ankle or injure themselves on the uneven course. He and assistant coach Todd Trapp were unsure if they should just get back on the bus and leave.

“Up until five minutes until the first race, we were unsure if we were going to let them run,” Trapp said.

“A lot of parents had taken time off to come watch and that was a deciding factor in having us run,” Ence said. “I told them to run hard where they thought the footing was safe and just to be careful.”

The teams made their way through the course with results similar to their other Western Slope meets in the lead.

For the girls team, Laurel Mortensen, Sheila McNicol and Danielle Brown, who are consistently in the top three, grouped together through the first half of the race.

With Brown not feeling well from an allergic reaction to a meal she ate earlier in the week, Mortensen said she knew it was her responsibility to win the race for the girls.

“With Danielle not feeling well, I told her I would take care of the win and that she didn’t have to take it too hard,” she said about her first career win. “The huge hill and the terrain made it a really tough course and I’m glad we were able win and not have any injuries.”

The girls team had almost a perfect score with six runners finishing in the top seven. McNicol finished third and Brown followed her in fourth. Junior Camillia Bird, senior Treva Tyler and freshman Courtney Grandbouche finished up in fifth, sixth and seventh respectively.

The boys team was looking forward to a close race against Western Slope Conference rival Glenwood Springs, but the Bulldogs ran away with the win. The boys in blue had eight in the top 16 and with the score consisting of the top four runnersnormally the top five are scoredthe points were even lower than past meets. Senior Bryce Ellgen was second followed by junior Anthony Loughran, third, senior Tim Bailey, fifth, and junior Justin Ellgen, sixth. The other top finishers for the ‘Dogs were junior Kyle Eitel, 12th, junior Drew Lyon, 13th, freshman Lincoln Cleverly, 14th, and sophomore Steve Crisp was 16th.

“That was one of the more difficult courses I’ve run,” Loughran said. “It was hard to dodge everything on the course and keep a rhythm.”

Ence struggled to find anything good about the meet except “it prepared them for the hard work coming up.”


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