The Pirate cross country team dominated the competition at their home meet with first-place Pagosa runners and first-place Pagosa teams.
However, the Pirates’ ultimate goal was barely missed. Both the boys’ and girls’ teams were one runner away from getting a perfect score (having runners place in the top four places).
The Pirates’ home course takes the runner to the top of Reservoir Hill, without the proposed chair lift. The first mile … up hill.
“It’s what we call an endurance course,” coach Scott Anderson said, so it was no surprise that no personal records were made.
The Pirates competed against teams from Del Norte, Sergeant, Mancos, Cortez and Santa Fe Desert Academy.
The Lady Pirate racers took the top three places: sophomore Emily Bryant, 22 minutes and 35 seconds, senior Brooke Hampton, 23:43, and sophomore Dana Danielson, 24:06, respectively took first, second and third, giving the girls’ team a total of 17 points.
“Tori Stronecker had made great strides and is becoming more competitive,” Anderson added.
For the boys, Carlos Brinkman, 19:25, Evan Brookens, 20:26, and Moses Huck, 20:24, took first, third and fourth, a total of 13 points. One runner from Cortez wedged his way in between Brinkman and Brookens, taking second. The perfect score is a goal to achieve at another meet.
The group of super sophomores — Tyler Greenly, Mason Chronowski and Matt Baker — came in fifth, sixth and 13th.
“It was a good weekend for us,” said Anderson, hesitant about being overly optimistic with the two first-place finishes at the meet.
Anderson said the wins don’t bring too much excitement; the team’s focus is on regionals and then state. The next couple of meets will be against the individual mind, with runners practicing keeping mentally focused.
For the boys, the goal in the next couple of meets will be to move the pack up toward the front of the race. For the girls, to reduce the pack time and compress the time that has spread between the first and the fourth runner.
The toughest competition will come, but not in the next two weeks.
“There are bigger fish out there,” Anderson says. “We need to focus and keep improving so we will be ready when the big meet comes.”
Until they face that competition, until they are pushed to a faster pace by the individual at their back and to their side, the Pirates will have to work to become their best, to hone their skills with discipline and boost their endurance.
They will run because they are runners.
The early 20th century poet Charles Sorley ran cross country in college, and then, before graduating, left to fight (and die) for Britain in World War I. In his poem, “The Song of the Ungirt Runners,” Sorley expresses the sentiment of runners, and for the next few weeks, it will be similar to the sentiment of Pagosa’s runners: “We know not whom we trust, nor whitherward we fare, but we run because we must, through the great wide air.”
The next meet will be Saturday at Mancos. The course is through hills and forest.
“It’s a descent course and the kids like it,” Anderson said, ringing like the last lines of Sorley’s poem, “And we run because we like, through the broad bright land.”