The power of the pack: Moffat County cross country hitting new bests before regionals

Moffat County High School's Keaton Knez stays the course during Sept. 29's Bulldog Invitational. MCHS cross country recently competed in the Rifle Invite, with nearly all runners gaining new bests, a good indicator of progress before this week's regional meet.
Andy Bockelman
Moffat County High School cross country results from Rifle Invitational Boys Chris Carrouth — 16:58.7; 2** Carter Severson — 17:01.6; 4 Wyatt Mortenson — 17:07.5; 7* Coltyn Terry — 18:07.3; 30 Keaton Knez — 18:28.4; 39* Grant Wade — 18:36.6; 42* Josh Worster — 19:11.6; 62* AJ Barber — 20:26.7; 111* Tyler Driggs — 20:30.1; 112 Wilson Eike — 20:53; 124* Colin Jensen — 20:54.3; 126* Girls Kelsey McDiffett — 20:22.3; 10** Makenna Knez — 20:27.7; 11 Emaleigh Papierski — 21:54.6; 15* Madie Weber — 21:20; 23* Allison Villard — 21:42.8; 32* Tate Severson — 24:48.7; 97* Raine Harrell — 26:17.7; 115* — MCHS boys placed second, girls third. * indicates runner’s personal record. ** indicates team’s top time for season.

They’re in the final stretch, but they’re not slowing down anytime soon.

Moffat County High School cross country runners hit some of their best times Thursday during the Rifle Invitational.

The Rifle Creek Golf Course proved a favorable terrain for Bulldog striders, as Chris Carrouth and Kelsey McDiffett set a new bar for the season for both the boys and girls teams.

Carrouth, who runs for Moffat County from Hayden, clocked in at 16:58.7 and placed second behind Soroco’s Ben Kelley, the first time for any Bulldog runner this year surpassing the 17-minute mark, though the time was a few seconds past his all-time personal record of 16:50, according to MaxPreps.

McDiffett placed 10th to lead the girls team at 20:22.3, a PR for her and the fastest time of the season for any member of the group, while Hayden’s Makenna Knez ranked 11th at only seconds later at 20:27.7.

McDiffett was pleased with the outcome after a stretch that was free of competition. Moffat County runners did not attend any meets during the first week of October but were nonetheless training constantly under coach Todd Trapp, and the results showed, she said.

“We’ve had a lot of practice, we’ve worked hard for two weeks straight,” she said. “Trapp gave us a talk about how we have to keep our motivation up, because it’s hard to keep going late in the season.”

Moffat County boys ranked second as a team with Carter Severson fourth, Wyatt Mortenson seventh, Coltyn Terry 30th and Keaton Knez 39th for Bulldog points.

The rest of the ranks included Grant Wade (42nd), Josh Worster (62), AJ Barber (111), Tyler Driggs (112), Wilson Eike (124) and Colin Jensen (126), with nearly all hitting PR’s in Rifle.

The same was true of the third-place girls, Emaleigh Papierski (15), Madie Weber (23), Allison Villard (32), Tate Severson (97) and Raine Harrell (115) all earning their best times to date.

Moffat County runners have crossed the finish line for the regular season and now come the big races — the athletes are en route to Delta for the 3A Region 1 meet this Friday.

The Bulldogs look to keep up strong performances from the past year, where the boys were second and girls fourth, though last year’s regional champions — Gunnison boys and Steamboat Springs girls — will also seek to keep their titles before Oct. 28’s state championships.

Carrouth and Terry noted that the Bulldogs will employ pack running as a strategy in the race. Besides keeping the pace going steady among them, it will keep them closer as a team mentally and in terms of points.

“It gets us higher up, placing-wise and pulls us up,” Carrouth said. “We run stronger as a group.”

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