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Pagosa girls, boys win IML cross country titles

Placing first and second at the Monte Vista meet Saturday (a meet which also incorporates the Intermountain League meet), the Pagosa Springs High School girls and boys cross country teams are league champions.

Dubbed the “Pagosa Springs Express” in the online cross country world, the varsity teams also recorded 12 personal records on the flatter, faster Monte Vista track.

“That’s the most improvement we’ve had since we’ve been running at this meet,” Coach Scott Anderson said of the entire team — boys and girls, varsity and junior varsity.

“We’ve not had that high of a percentage of PRs, which would be a testament to their work they’ve put in and just everything coming together at, hopefully, the right time,” Anderson said.

Leading the Lady Pirates, Emily Bryant continued her string of third-place finishes, running a personal record time of 20:32.

Finishing fifth overall and second for the Pirates was Danielle Pajak with a time of 21:10, also a personal record.

Next for the Pirates, Dana Danielson finished eighth with a personal record time of 21:19, while Brooke Hampton finished 10th in 21:38.

The last three varsity Pirates also recorded personal-record times — Mele LeLievre finished 14th in 22:02; Crystal Purcell, 17th in 22:20; and Haleigh Zenz finished in 22:42, finishing 20th.

The Lady Pirates finished the meet with 26 points, ahead of Gunnison (58) and Alamosa (72) in the overall meet and ahead of all IML teams.

“The girls ran really well,” Anderson said. “We were very happy to see how they performed and see how everything’s coming together for them.”

Despite placing second under Gunnison at the meet, the boys, too, garnered the league title.

Leading the Pirate finishers was Carlos Brinkmann, finishing sixth with a time of 17:30.

After Brinkmann’s already quick finish, every other Pagosa varsity runner set a personal record.

Finishing 11th, Evan Brookens ran the course in 18:34, with Moses Huck nabbing 12th in 18:41.

Mason Chronowski finished 19th in 18:58; Tyler Greenley crossed the line 24th with a time of 19:22; Zach Ellis ran the course in 19:50, finishing 32nd; and Zach Graveson finished 37th with a time of 20:06.

Though finishing behind Gunnison (31 points) in the overall meet, Pagosa (48 points) again finished ahead of rival Bayfield, the nearest IML rival, which tallied 63 points.

“Gunnison was even better than we thought they would be,” Anderson said, noting the return of a Gunnison runner who hadn’t run all season, but who finished first for his team, and the fact that three runners finished ahead of Brinkman.

“We will have another shot at them and we have expectations that we can get a little closer,” Anderson said.

That shot will come as the Pirates continue their post-season schedule with Saturday’s regional meet at Cortez.

At the meet, both teams have the potential to qualify for state.

The biggest challenge for the girls in the hunt for the overall title at the meet looks to be Hotchkiss, while the boys’ competition is more difficult to gauge. Four relatively close teams will face off — Gunnison, Pagosa, Aspen and Basalt — meaning Pagosa has a chance for a first-place finish, or potentially not placing.

The boys have never faced Basalt or Aspen at a meet.

Additionally, the boys are “hoping we have Bayfield well-framed in the rearview mirror,” Anderson said.

The meet is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m.

“Cortez is only two hours away; come on out and enjoy the show,” Anderson said.