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Triple threat

MCHS front runners lead Bulldogs into statemeet as top contenders

David Pressgrove

Sheila McNicol is the quiet one.

Laurel Mortensen is the outspoken one.

Danielle Brown is the rowdy one.

“Actually I’m the coolest one,” Brown said.

“Um, no,” Mortensen said, cutting Brown off.

“Yeah, I oppose that,” McNicol said softly.

Together, the three different personalities have helped mold the Moffat County High School girls cross country into one of the top teams in 4A. Saturday at the state meet in Denver, they have a chance to go from one of the top teams, to the top.

“Those three have been outstanding for us,” said head coach Dustin Ence. “What they bring us is the ability of three number-one runners when most teams only have one up front.”

The farthest back any of the three seniors have finished this year in a race is 12th. Brown has won five races, Mortensen, two. McNicol has been consistently right there with them.

“I think Sheila has been the most pleasant surprise,” Ence said. “She has suffered injuries the past couple of years and this year she’s been healthy and strong. She’s been our secret weapon that nobody expects.”

Just like their differing personalities, Ence said they bring their own leadership abilities to the Bulldog seven.

“Danielle is a leader in workouts and on the course,” he said. “With Laurel, she is the competitor and I can always count on her in big races. Sheila shows what can happen when one puts in the hard work without all of the natural talent.”

McNicol and Brown were members of a state championship team as sophomores, and they know the difference from that year is the chance at winning another title is on their shoulders.

“The seniors taught us what it took and we followed them,” Brown said. “This is more of our team, and it’s up to us to lead.”

Of course it takes seven to make the team and the other four runners, senior Treva Tyler, junior Camillia Bird, sophomore Angela Nelson and freshman Courtney Grandbouche, should not be overlooked with the team’s success.

“The fourth through seventh runners have made us go from a top-five team to a championship contender,” Ence said. “If we’re not the top team in the state, we’re the most improved.”

Considering that between the four runners, there is one season of experience running cross country, Ence said he has been impressed.

“Really, we don’t have a set four, five, six and seven runner,” he said. “They are all so dependable that they’re interchangeable.”

The Front Range papers are calling Lewis-Palmer, a team that both Moffat County and Mullen have beat this season, the favorite to win 4A. Ence isn’t sure which races the writers have been watching.

“It’s pretty clear that our region was the toughest with us and Mullen,” he said. “But that’s all just on paper.”

Something the girls and their new coach have learned is to not depend on the rankings.

“We tend not to look at the rankings,” Mortensen said. “Other than the Western Slope, not too many teams know about us until state.”

The girls hope that when they get up on the trophy stand, the only people they won’t be surprising are themselves.

“If we run like we did at regionals, it’s going to go well,” Brown said. “It’ll be pretty cool when we get our trophy and everybody is like, ‘Moffat who? Where are they from.'”

David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or dpressgrove@craigdailypress.com)


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