Varsity Moffat County XC runners get glimpse at state course, JV shears down times; golfers ready for regionals | CraigDailyPress.com
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Varsity Moffat County XC runners get glimpse at state course, JV shears down times; golfers ready for regionals

Andy Bockelman / For Craig Press
Moffat County High School's Owen Gifford gets a final burst of speed in the Connected Lakes Championships. While JV runners set multiple new bests on the same course this past weekend, MCHS varsity competed in the long-awaited Cheyenne Mountain Stampede.
Heidi Acord-Meats / Courtesy Photo

While it seems like the fall sports season just started, it’s already coming up on crunch time for Moffat County High School athletes.

Go for the green (or the gold)

With three total contests in the past week, Bulldog varsity golfers are taking every bit of competition they can get on the way to the big leagues.

MCHS boys did double duty Monday and Tuesday at a pair of tricky courses at Aspen’s Skier Invitational and the Vail Mountain Invite, a road trip that will be the last of the regular schedule for the team’s top tier.

Aspen saw a season best for one of the Dogs, as senior Tyler Burkett returned in top form to not only break 90 but also finish higher on the scoreboard than any of the squad at an 89, tying for 15th.

Dave Andujo had a rougher go with a 92, while Tanner Etzler’s 94 was just under the 96 completed by Ryan Peck as the team finished seventh.

However, the numbers were quite different the next day as Andujo and Etzler seemed to battling it out to both achieve the best total. The outcome was the two of them tying for 26th on the leaderboard, rounding out the day at 86.

Peck also saw a better score at Vail, trimming strokes off the end it at 94, while Burkett struggled to stay on track with his previous performance, this time shooting a 99. Freshman Hudson Jones also had a tough time, notching 105.

“Some of the kids don’t look the Aspen course, and others think the Vail course is tougher. I don’t know what it is. I guess each kid’s just a little bit different,” MCHS coach Tim Adams said.

Either way, Bulldogs had a better group amount at 266 to tie with Coal Ridge at 11th of 15 schools.

MoCo also got in an extra round of informal play the past Friday at Meeker, an event that saw mixed results. Though the Dogs edged out the hosting Cowboys in traditional team play, the match-play format didn’t treat them as well.

With an 83, Andujo had the lowest final of both teams and claimed four birdies on the Par 68 course — balanced by a 10 on Hole 5 — while Etzler scored 93 and Peck 99 for a 275 total to best Meeker’s 278. Still, the Cowboys lost only one matchup in terms of match-play results.

“For the JV guys, it was good to get everybody some more competition and it was a good change of pace,” Adams said. “Meeker was needing, and I was needing it too, was to make some decisions about the tournaments coming up this week.”

Next up for MCHS is the 3A Region 4 Tournament, which starts Monday, Sept. 21 at Carbondale’s River Valley Ranch, hosted by Basalt.

The event will be a two-day tourney with a practice round for all players — including alternates — and the real deal the following day.

Adams said he was able to solidify his regional roster for the event after the past week, confirming Andujo, Etzler, Burkett and Peck as the top four, with Jones as the alternate.

The event will be a new experience for first-year MCHS golfers Peck and Jones and a return to the level for both Andujo and Etzler, who each qualified for 3A state last fall in Colorado Springs.

Burkett had a high likelihood of also competing at state last year, but he took ill right before the regional round, making him all the more excited for another opportunity.

“Hopefully he won’t get sick again this year. I know he’s really looking forward to it,” Adams said.

The Bulldogs who make it to state will be closer to home with the 3A tourney scheduled on the Western Slope for Gunnison’s Dos Rios.

They’ll also have plentiful preparation time with the multi-day event set for Oct. 5 and 6.

For now, the trick is getting past the next round on a course that isn’t the best-known for MCHS, which was cut from the lineup at an earlier tourney this season at River Valley Ranch.

“Everybody says it’s great course, and I’m sure it’ll be tough,” Adams said. “These last two tournaments, the pin placements were pretty tight, the greens were fast and they were definitely trying to prepare kids for what to expect.”

On the trail

After seeing the sights afforded to them with new running spots, MCHS varsity cross country was back on a familiar path the past weekend. And hopefully, they’ll be seeing it again in the coming month.

MCHS varsity teams hit Colorado Springs’ Norris Penrose Event Center for the rescheduled Cheyenne Mountain Stampede as girls placed seventh and boys ninth among 3A teams.

With area schools on the course Friday, MoCo runners were more than prepped Saturday after a week of practice.

In the 3A girls event, Halle Hamilton placed 17th of 86 at 21:34.1, just a few steps in front of Kelsey McDiffett at 18th with 21:44.6.

The two have been finishing closely each race so far, which is no coincidence.

“We’ve been running together this summer and really pushing each other,” Hamilton said. “That’s helped a lot this season, and I think we have a better mindset. We have a really strong varsity team.”

Emma Jones was next in placement at 29th, Bree Meats 47th and Alayna Behrman at 62.

While the 5K race is traditionally the opening of the schedule for many teams, running the course — also the perennial site of the state championships — in the middle of September had its advantages, Hamilton said.

“I think we had much better time than we would have at the beginning of the season since we’re a little bit more of shape,” she said. “The weather was a little cooler, too, and we attacked the hill there better than we have in previous years. The competitive spirit in our team is thriving right now.”

Instead of one big bunch of kids at the starting gate, organizers also had different waves at a time, she added, while the recurring use of protective masks immediately before and after the run remains an odd adjustment.

“That’s still really weird, but I think we’re getting used to the whole corona change,” she said. “At least we don’t have to run with it on.”

For the boys, Hayden runners Keaton Knez and Kale Johnson led the Dogs at 18:13.5 and 19:40.8, respectively, with Logan Hafey 56th, Owen Gifford 58th, Andrew Kleckler 61st, and Alex Nichols at 71 of 94, with both Gifford and Kleckler hitting their best times to date.

Among the many teams at the large-scale event was Alamosa, whose Joshua Medina conquered the course with an individual win for 3A boys, while the boys group placed fourth and girls fifth.

The Mean Moose will be one of the teams to watch for in October when the Bulldogs attend the 3A Region 1 Meet in Durango.

With only a handful of runners at the Stampede, the rest of the cross country crew had their run a day earlier at Friday’s Grand Junction Tiger Invite at Connected Lakes State Park.

With boys JV the runner-up for in team scores, Carter Behrman led the group with a personal record 19:21.7, placing fourth of 45. Among the fourth-place girls, Tiana Nichols also hit a new best at 24:59.5, ranked ninth of 43.

Boden Reidhead hit it hard in his first race of the year with ninth place at 20:23.6 with Ian Trevenen close behind at 20:26.7 in 10th. Kadin Hume took 25th and Chase Serio 31st to round out the results.

While girls JV was lower in the rankings, the group achieved PR marks across the board, as Mary Willems, Joslyn Bacon, Brook Wheeler and Megan Neton each achieved their best times to date with massive cuts.

The steady progression that comes along with the XC season is one that the team’s seasoned veterans have seen time and again, and things are just getting started in terms of solid results.

Hamilton noted that head coach Todd Trapp is emphasizing endurance at this stage of the fall.

“Naturally, we’re a pretty fast team, but we need to have that endurance throughout the whole three miles instead of just the first two,” she said. “We’re struggling with that third mile in keeping our pace.”

Up next is the coming weekend’s Rangely event, hosted at Cedar Ridges Golf Course. The following entries on the schedule are the MCHS home meet Sept. 25 and 26 at Loudy-Simpson Park, as well as a new Craig competition the weekend after that. The Whistle Pig Invite runs Oct. 2 at Yampa Valley Golf Course to provide both home and visiting teams a different kind of terrain.

“I’m really excited for the golf course because it’s so fun to run,” Hamilton said. “It’ll be really beneficial for us since it’s a whole new course to run and getting out of Loudy.”

Moffat County High School varsity cross country results at Cheyenne Mountain Stampede

Girls

Runner Time; Place

  • Halle Hamilton 21:34.1; 17
  • Kelsey McDiffett 21:44.6; 18
  • Emma Jones 22:47.6; 29
  • Bree Meats 23:58.2; 47
  • Alayna Behrman 25:02.6; 62

Boys

  • Keaton Knez 18:13.5; 21
  • Kale Johnson 19:40.8; 43
  • Logan Hafey 20:37.7; 56
  • Owen Gifford 20:48; 58
  • Andrew Kleckler 20:55.4; 61
  • Alex Nichols 21:37.5; 71

MCHS JV cross country results at Grand Junction Tiger Invite

  • Tiana Nichols 24:59.5; 9
  • Mary Willems 25:11.3; 13
  • Joslyn Bacon 25:17.7; 14
  • Brook Wheeler 26:21.8; 22
  • Megan Neton 26:52.9; 24

Boys

  • Carter Behrman 19:21.7; 4
  • Boden Reidhead 20:23.6; 9
  • Ian Trevenen 20:26.7; 10
  • Kadin Hume 22:02.8; 25
  • Chase Serio 23:51.7; 31

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