After Moffat County Invite, Bulldog XC set for 2nd home event; rodeo wraps up for fall; golfer Dave Andujo eyeing success at state tourney
In some ways, the fall season is just winding down for Moffat County High School athletes, but in a greater sense, things are just getting started.
Running on home turf
The grounds of Loudy-Simpson Park may be increasingly familiar for MCHS cross country, yet the weekend races held new experiences nonetheless.
MCHS varsity teams were runners-up in the team results during Saturday morning’s home meet, the MoCo Invitational.
Lady Bulldogs faced harsh competition from Aspen in particular, with the Skiers sweeping the top three individual spots for the group victory.
Still, Bulldog Kelsey McDiffett was less than one minute behind Aspen leader Kylie Kenny, and the MCHS senior claimed fourth place overall with a time of 21:20.92, her fastest time so far this season.
Throughout the fall, McDiffett has been keeping it close with teammate Halle Hamilton, who’s earned the top spot in each race during the fall. However, McDiffett broke away midway through the home event.
“I think that may have been my best meet,” she said.
Hamilton — whose performance at the Connected Lakes Championships remains the mark to beat — was no slouch, ending the race several seconds later at 21:28.95 for sixth place.
Emma Jones was next in ninth place with a season best of 21:55.01, while Bree Meats also had her quickest results of the fall at 23:25.35 and 16th.
Alayna Behrman was close behind in 18th (24:12.26) and Tiana Nichols trimmed a few fractions of a second off her personal best for 24:59.34 to end it 27th.
Nichols noted that she felt especially prepared for the event.
“I think the speed workouts throughout the week we do here helped a lot to have that mentality,” she said.
While the girls varsity race was utterly owned by Aspen, runners took particular pride in denying rival Steamboat Springs the silver honors, with the Sailors one point behind the Bulldogs’ 53.
Coach Todd Trapp commended athletes for the strategy that came down to the final stretch.
“The thing right there is the finish. We have to continue to do that. If someone is near us, we have to pass them. Let’s keep that up, keep finishing hard,” Trapp told runners at the meet conclusion. “Continue that solid last mile.”
Steamboat won the boys race as a team and individually, led by Jaydon Fryer and Bowden Tumminello, with Hayden’s Keaton Knez right behind for the bronze for MoCo.
The Sailor point total of 43 outdid the Bulldog 47, but the Moffat County split among their top five was better at 1:34 compared to Steamboat’s 2:38.
Knez’s 18:27.6 was a ways behind the 18:07 he picked up in the season’s first race, though he was more than satisfied with his performance on a course known for its incline on the Loudy-Simpson hill that adds time to most running results.
Case in point, he eclipsed the previous best time of 18:38 from last season’s home meet.
He likened the final time crossing the finish line in the middle of Loudy-Simpson to “parting with an old friend.”
“It was a blast for sure, and it’s always good to run with these guys,” Knez said. “We needed a good race today. We crushed some rivals that we needed to beat, so that’s a good way to getting to that state race.”
Fellow Hayden runner Kale Johnson had his best output of the fall, bringing his time to 19:09.76, placing seventh.
Rounding out the top 10 was Logan Hafey, who likewise brought his time down for the year, clocking in at 19:30.14. After dropping cross country in 2019 to play football, the MCHS junior will be able to do both with the Bulldog gridiron program suddenly back in session.
“I thought I wouldn’t miss (cross country), but I’m definitely glad I got to do it again,” Hafey said. “I’m still working out part-time with the team and doing my own runs, my dad’s riding his bike with me so I can get all the workouts in and take advantage of the extra work so I can get that blast in on the weekends.”
Finishing up the boys varsity race were Carter Behrman in 14th, Boden Reidhead 17th and Owen Gifford 18th.
Friday saw a smaller turnout at the meet’s junior varsity races, with Moffat County fielding four runners in each to not make the team minimum of five.
Ian Trevenen led the JV boys with fourth place and a season best of 20:24.33, with Kadin Hume taking 20th, Chase Serio 21st and Javier Fabregas Carbonell 27th.
“That hill is super steep, so if you go strong uphill, the rest going down will take care of itself,” Trevenen said.
He added that compared to the August start, he’s felt more capable physically lately.
“I feel better, like, more in shape,” he said.
In front for girls JV was Mary Willems in 11th place at 26:04.2, with Joslyn Bacon 12th, Megan Neton 25th and Evi Dietrich 29th.
The Friday afternoon race held a bit of a surprise for girls in particular with the park sprinkler system going strong along the soccer field in the final mile.
“It was really cold,” Willems laughed, adding that the stream of water was still refreshing amid a grueling run.
She added that while the hill presented an expected challenge, the course — changed slightly due to park construction — also was a shift from the rest of the year.
“I feel like it was hard because the whole thing was close together and had a lot of loops, so it was hard mentally,” Willems said.
With one more week before the Oct. 9 regional races in Durango, MCHS has one big run left, which they’ll be doing again at home with the inaugural Whistle Pig Invite Friday, Oct. 2 at Yampa Valley Golf Course.
Preceded by a golf ball drop fundraiser for MCHS girls basketball at 4:45 p.m., the races kick off at 5:30 p.m. as both varsity and JV harriers will run in a single day.
Expectations are high for lower times among runners on a fast, flat course as YVGC’s layout ensures a speedy result.
Moffat County High School cross country results at MCHS Invite
Runner Time; Place
- Kelsey McDiffett 21:20.92; 4
- Halle Hamilton 21:28.95; 6
- Emma Jones 21:55.01; 9
- Bree Meats 23:25.35; 16
- Alayna Behrman 24:12.26; 18
- Tiana Nichols 24:59.34; 27
- Keaton Knez 18:27.6; 3
- Kale Johnson 19:09.76; 7
- Logan Hafey 19:30.14; 10
- Carter Behrman 19:55.01; 14
- Boden Reidhead 20:01.38; 17
- Owen Gifford 20:03.38; 18
- Mary Willems 26:04.2; 11
- Joslyn Bacon 26:17.58; 12
- Megan Neton 20:01.39; 25
- Evi Dietrich 31:12.56; 29
- Ian Trevenen 20:24.33; 4
- Kadin Hume 23:04.41; 20
- Chase Serio 23:28.15; 21
- Javier Fabregas Carbonell 24:42.4; 27
Riding into the sunset
The final weekend of the Colorado State High School Rodeo Association’s early season saw Moffat County competitors give their all as they approach a lengthy hiatus that will see them prepping for the spring return.
Elbert’s Latigo Trails was the site of the big fall finale for CSHSRA, with both days providing plentiful points for Moffat County kids.
Craig’s Pepper Rhyne had arguably his best run of the fall in the tie down roping, placing third on Day 1 — with a time of 14.72 seconds — and fourth on Day 2 (15.46) to rise to sixth overall in the state in the event.
However, his best placement came in the second day of team roping, pairing with Delta’s Conner Cannon to place No. 2.
The first day of the rifle shoot saw Joey Gates on target with second place and Kaden Cox in fifth. Gates repeated the strong showing the next day — trailing the lead by only eight points — with another second place, while Cox took sixth.
Cox will end the fall ranked third in the state, while Gates’ best weekend so far jumped her up to the top 10 in the rifle.
Just missing a score in the goat tying with 11th place on the opening day at Latigo, Katie Jo Knez had a trying weekend, as did Clay Durham in the bull riding, yet both remain formidable in the rankings, each placed fifth in the state to end the fall.
In junior high results, Jolene Rhyne was on fire for the first day of competition, winning the girls breakaway roping, girls goats and pole bending in addition to sixth place in barrel racing.
Cactus Barnes wasn’t far behind the same day, winning the ribbon roping with Peyton’s Jaycee Yonkers as well as gaining a win in the chute dogging, plus second place in the tie down.
Barnes also earned sixth in boys goats, Chance Knez a few seconds behind in ninth.
Despite no time on the first day, Logan Durham was back to his old self the next day in bull riding with a 60-point run in his final go of the fall, still leagues ahead of everyone in the state rankings.
While not dominating quite as much Sunday, Rhyne was still in good form with another victory in poles and a shared win in ribbon roping with Elbert’s Nathan Lammers, as well as second place in goats and ninth in barrels.
For Day 2, Knez rose to sixth in goats with Barnes in eighth, and Barnes also earned second in both chute dogging and tie down as well as fourth in ribbon.
While Yuma’s Cassidy Evans is almost uncatchable in the junior high girls all-around with 363 points for the fall alone, Rhyne is closer than anyone, currently sat in second with 228 after a big weekend. Barnes is also on the rise in the boys all-around in third.
With the top four at the end of the spring determining who will move on to the national level, Rhyne is now ranked second in the state in both barrels and poles and fourth in goats.
Knez is tied for second in the boys breakaway, and Barnes is in a big field of kids fighting for fourth in team roping.
Barnes is also ranked third in tie down and chute dogging.
However, the battle will be on among Moffat County athletes this spring in the ribbon roping, with the past weekend putting Rhyne and Lammers at the top of the board with 61 points. Ranked second are Barnes and Yonkers with only one point making up the difference.
The season will last a little longer for the Craig rodeo crew that’s been heading up north, and Donnie Quick and Amber Salazar are looking to build on recent successes.
Quick earned top 10 honors in both days of the weekend’s team roping at Wheatland, Wyoming but his better results were in the steer wrestling, earning fourth place on the first day and placing second on the latter day to maintain his status as the current runner-up only two points from the lead.
Salazar likewise had her best run yet in the pole bending, placing third to bolt up the leaderboard, now tied for 12th.
Wyoming High School Rodeo Association will wrap the fall season this coming weekend in Rock Springs.
A second shot at state
The 2019 season for MCHS’s Dave Andujo was one capped off by attaining the same goal held by hundreds of other young golfers: qualification for the state tournament.
A year later, he’s in the same situation and ready to ascend to another level.
Andujo, a Bulldog junior, will attend the 3A CHSAA State Championships in the following week at Gunnison’s Dos Rios Golf Club.
The tourney tees off officially Monday morning with a second round Tuesday.
All golfers will have a practice round Sunday, and early birds may have the opportunity to get a little more time on the course.
“We may be able to get a few holes in at the end of the day Saturday,” said coach Tim Adams. “Last year the boys got two practice rounds at state, but the sticky thing is Dos Rios has another tournament on Saturday, so there’s really not a lot of tee times. We’ll see what we can get.”
Andujo made the cut for state during the 3A Region 4 event at Carbondale’s River Valley Ranch, notching an 80 and placing eighth overall.
Teammate Tanner Etzler, who also went to state last fall, narrowly missed the big event with an 88, two strokes away from a playoff round among those on the cusp.
“I was really hoping Tanner would make it too, and he was disappointed, but he still felt like he played the best he could,” Adams said. “That’s all any of us can hope for.”
Andujo said he was hoping to have a fellow MoCo player at state, though he’s not at all worried about going it alone on the links.
“I’ve just been trying to get my mind right,” he said. “I really don’t get that nervous about tournaments because I have a lot of experience now.”
With nearly two weeks of practice time, Adams and Andujo have been on the grounds of Yampa Valley Golf Course regularly to tighten his game, during which the young athlete has been taking note of his strengths and weaknesses.
“Tempo and my first and second shots are the biggest things for me,” Andujo said. “I’m trying to be more consistent on the drive, not having it go 100 miles an hour, just have a smooth swing.”
Unlike last year’s 3A state meet, hosted at the Air Force Academy’s Eisenhower Golf Club, Andujo has plenty of familiarity with the layout of Dos Rios on the Western Slope.
“It plays like our course. It’s not too hard, it’s pretty open and fairways are big,” he said.
He added that he hopes to be on the same wavelength as regionals that saw him succeed. The previous year’s state performance is one he hopes to put out of mind entirely, shooting a 96 the first day and 101 the next.
“I really want to keep it below 82 or 83 for both days,” he said. “I’m just trying to do better than last year, because I didn’t do that well.”
With the first time at state already under both their belts, Adams said he and Andujo are far more prepared for the event.
“He seems to handle the pressure a little bit better this year, so it should be fun to watch him play,” Adams said. “Plenty of chances to get ourselves ready. I’m excited for him and his parents getting to come down and watch him.”
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