Pirate runners primed for regional meet

Pirates cross country runners continue to shine as both boys’ and girls’ squads finished a strong second against a No. 1 ranked 3A Bayfield team and a tough Gunnison squad respectively in Monte Vista last Saturday, with both squads just three points shy of first place.

Moreover, league honors were presented to three girls and two boys from the Pirate teams. All-conference honors went to Jackson Walsh and Kyle Brookens from the boys’ team, with Walsh also named Intermountain League runner of the year for his second time. Taking runner of the year for an unprecedented third time, Pirate phenom Jacie Harms joined Katarina Medici and Rachel Jensen as all-conference runners on the girl’s squad.

Finishing in first place on Saturday, Harms led the girl’s team with a time of 20 minutes, 36 seconds. Medici’s 21:39 was good for seventh-place overall, followed by Jensen’s 11th-place finish at 22:03 and Mele Lelievre’s time of 23:13 for 14th place. Despite Harms’ strong showing, the girls were shaved from the top by a mere three points, taking second behind Bayfield.

Likewise, Pirate boys just missed top honors by a meager three points. Despite a strong first-place finish by Walsh, his 16 minute, 54 second time a personal best, the team saw Bayfield slip into first overall by a hair’s breadth. Brookens’ time of 18:15 was good for 10th place overall. He was followed closely by Carlos Brinkman’s 12th-place finish at 18:25. Ryan Hamilton’s time of 18:44 for 13th-place brought the boys’ team just shy of the top spot.

“Even though we had two team seconds,” said Coach Scott Anderson, “We came away from this meet pleased and encouraged by our progress.” Anderson went on to point out that seven of the varsity runners from both squads finished with personal records at the meet.

The Pirates will run their regional meet in Delta Saturday, Oct. 18, and will hopefully cull state qualifiers from that meet. According to Anderson, qualifying for state is a matter of runners being on a qualifying team, usually the top 3-4 teams in the regional race, or of individuals finishing in the top 15 overall.

“The top spots should be between Gunnison and us on the girls’ side, Bayfield and us on the boys’ side,” said Anderson. “The top individual spots are going to be a real shootout, with our runners right in the mix.”

jim@pagosasun.com