Moffat County runners hold nothing back at cross-country state championships
For the Craig Press
With three miles left to run in the fall season, Moffat County High School cross-country athletes set their sights on finishing strong at the 3A CHSAA State Championships.
The Saturday race at Colorado Springs’ Norris Penrose Event Center was a joyful experience for MCHS runners, as seasoned state competitors and novices alike hit the course.
After placing third as a group a week earlier at the 3A Region 1 Meet to send seven runners and an alternate to state, the Bulldog boys wrapped up 14th of 20 full teams at the event.
Senior Kale Johnson led the way for the MoCo bunch, placing 57th of 157 3A male athletes at a time of 18:25.3.
While the finishing order has shifted around this season, Johnson said he felt an extra push to be the first on his team to cross the finish line.
“I was real nervous about not being the first one, but it went pretty good,” he said.
After running at Norris Penrose multiple occasions over the past four years — both at the state round and the Cheyenne Mountain Stampede that uses the same locale — he knew exactly which parts of the course would be where he wanted to pace himself and where to kick.
“That last mile, as soon as I got done with the downhill,” Johnson said of his final push.
He added that the lead-up to that point was one of the tougher stretches.
“That dips right into the uphill toward the end of the second mile,” he said.
Sophomore Owen Gifford and junior Boden Reidhead were neck and neck with each other as the next two finishers. Gifford took 83rd at 18:56.9 and Reidhead 84th at 18:57.5.
Junior Ian Trevenen clocked in at 19:06.4 to place 90th, the last Bulldog finisher within the top 100.
While Johnson, Gifford, Reidhead, and Trevenen have been to state previously, their three comrades on the course were there for the first time.
Senior Alex Nichols ran a 20:14.2 to place 125th, junior Forrest Siminoe 141 at 20:49.5, and senior Kadin Hume 154th at 22:12.8.
For Nichols, Hume, and Johnson, this was their final event of the fall as a team, though Johnson said he hopes to run a national event sponsored by Nike for high school athletes in the coming weeks.
Johnson is also a wrestler and track competitor for Hayden, and while he’ll be suiting up for the Tigers the rest of his senior year, he said the thing he’ll remember most about the cross-country season are “the people around me.”
While the boys team was able to bring a full roster to state, it was an unusual race for the MCHS girls with a single runner in the mix at Colorado Springs.
This marked the first time MoCo cross-country didn’t have both a full girls team and boys team at the final race since 2013, when no MCHS boys qualified.
Senior Emma Jones was the lone runner sporting a Moffat County jersey. It’s a race she’s run each fall since she was a freshman, but the only time she’s done so without her teammates running alongside her.
Even so, her fellow seniors, Halle Hamilton and Bree Meats, coaches Todd Trapp and Jennifer Pressgrove, and more were cheering her on emphatically before, during, and after the race.
“All of the support was very nice. It was pretty tough to be alone, but I knew that they were there supporting me, so that was very helpful,” Jones said.
Jones placed 58th of 154 3A girls, her time 21:56.8. Like Johnson, she noted the start of the third mile as a crucial point, though she preferred the breather before the big incline.
“It’s nice to go downhill, because that way you can just relax. There’s really nothing relaxing about a race, but there you can kind of let go. Then there’s another hill, but it’s nice to have that break,” she said.
Jones will still have a hectic year of sports, including basketball in the winter and striving to defend a 4×200 relay state title in the track and field season.
However, she said the part of her fall sport she’ll miss the most is the atmosphere the comes with distance running, in which everyone involved is doing their best and bonding with fellow athletes.
“Cross-country is such a different sport than everything else. The teams come together and everyone has a good time, there’s no drama and everyone has fun,” she said. “It was a really nice way to end the year, because everybody came together more than we ever have been.”
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It wouldn’t be a league event for Moffat County High School track and field athletes without bringing home some hardware, and the Bulldogs earned some metal last weekend.