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Pirate girls regional champs, cross country teams to state

The Pagosa Springs High School cross country teams splashed their way to state at Saturday’s wet and muddy Regional Meet in Cortez, with the girls taking home another first and the title of regional champion.

Saturday’s performances qualified both Pagosa teams for next weekend’s Class 3A State Meet in Aurora, with the top four boys’ and girls’ teams at regionals advancing.

The boys placed fourth at the meet, with Carlos Brinkman again leading the Pirate runners, this time with a fifth-place finish and a time of 18:21.

Moses Huck finished second for the Pirates and 20th overall with a time of 19:43; Evan Brookens finished 23rd in 20:03.

Mason Chronowski finished 25th in 20:05; Zach Ellis finished 30th in 20:23; and Tyler Greenly finished 39th in 21:05.

Gunnison finished first at the meet with 27 points; Basalt tallied 36 points; and Aspen recorded 58.

The Pirates secured their fourth-place standing with 73 points, beating Bayfield by five points.

“The guys, overall, were solid,” said Coach Scott Anderson, adding, “We’re just really happy we were able to qualify.”

Close pack times helped the Lady Pirates continue their string of first-place finishes on the season and take home the title — a goal Anderson set at the beginning of the season.

Breaking her streak of third-place finishes on the season, Emily Bryant led Pagosa with a second-place finish and a time of 21:37.

Dana Danielson crossed second for the Pirates, finishing sixth overall in 22:09 and leading the pack of four Pirate finishers in less than a minute.

Brooke Hampton finished ninth with a time of 22:26; Danielle Pajak crossed the line 11th in 22:35; and Crystal Purcell ran the race in 22:58, finishing 14th.

Rounding out the Pirate roster, Haleigh Zenz finished in 24:07, 28th place.

Pagosa tallied 28 points, beating second-place Aspen by 14 points. Hotchkiss finished third with 43 points and Gunnison finished fourth with 71 points.

“They did what I thought they were capable of doing,” Anderson said. “This group — I’ve learned to not discount their abilities because every week they not only impress us, but seem to amaze outsiders.”

Next, the teams will head to the Arapahoe County Fairgrounds in Aurora Saturday for the state meet.

The teams will run on a course featuring “a fair amount of hills,” giving strength teams a better chance against speed teams, Anderson said.

Regardless of the course, the teams will have a challenge at their feet.

Anderson hopes the boys will make the top 10 at the meet, saying, “If we have everybody on the same page and running well, we have a shot.”

On the girls’ side, The Classical Academy (Colorado Springs) — which has won the state title eight consecutive years — looks to be the biggest challenge, with Anderson calling the school “the 800-pound gorilla.”

Pagosa has finished second to TCA twice in the past.

“There will obviously be a lot of competition — there are a lot of good teams — but certainly, the top dog is TCA,” Anderson said, also noting the challenge of Estes Park.

Although TCA has recorded faster times than the Pirates this year, Anderson pointed out that Hotchkiss had as well (the victory over Hotchkiss is considered an upset in the cross country community), and said it ultimately depends on who shows up the day of the race.

“Our girls have always shown up this year,” he said, adding that, “realistically, top five is certainly an expectation.”

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

randi@pagosasun.com