The sun is shining, no clouds in sight. Hot winds blowing and kicking up the dust. Heads down, eyes squinting, members of the Pagosa Springs High School cross country team ran through the grueling summer conditions at the Cheyenne Stampede in Colorado Springs last Saturday.
If the weather didn’t make the race harsh enough for the Pirates, Coach Scott Anderson had the team racing up a division in 4A to give them a challenge he had faith they would rise to meet.
While some Pirates had to seek medical attention, others thrived under the conditions and came into their own racing up a division in 4A.
Junior Emily Bryant finished in eighth with a time of 21 minutes and 28 seconds.
“She did well,” Anderson said, then adding that Bryant has the potential to do even better.
Bryant had kept pace in the top five, making it to fourth place, which she held for a good portion of the course. Anderson said, though, that in the last leg, she faded some but kept at eighth.
Anderson said that Bryant trains with the boys so she is pushed more, and her times are very close to that of her male teammates. However, in the 3A division, and in the Pirates’ league, EvaLou Edwards, a junior from Bayfield, took first place with a time of 19:42, the second fastest time out of all divisions racing.
“It’s a nice bar,” said Anderson, but explained that for Bryant to shave two minutes off her time is extremely difficult.
Two freshmen girls, Tayler Lee-Hammer and Olivia Reinhardt, finished in 73rd and 78th places respectively.
“We had a pleasant surprise, in that Tayler apparently requires a competitive situation to help pull her out. We knew she was capable, but she showed us more than what we were expecting,” Anderson said.
Reinhardt, Anderson said, had been running 20 places above, but the heat took a big toll on her and, in the last leg of the race, she faded.
Junior Dana Danielson, who has previously run at a similar pace to Bryant, finished 107th due to some injuries she has been nursing through the summer.
“As the year goes on, I know that she will get stronger,” Anderson said.
For the boys, the heat and dust were an obstacle that not all could overcome.
“We had some asthmatic kids that suffered pretty significantly in this race,” Anderson said. Some runners were sent to the medical tent to receive aid.
That being said, Anderson thinks that, under the conditions, the boys did a good job. Senior Daniel Sloan had the fastest time of the Pirates with a 20:26 which earned him a 69th-place spot. Anderson said Sloan is new to the team this year and, for the first race, he did extremely well.
Junior Mason Chronowski placed 82nd with a time of 20:47.5. Freshmen Nick Hutcherson was not far behind, finishing in 20:53.8, which placed him 89.
“Nick has a lot of talent and is just starting to figure out that he has potential to do this,” Anderson said. Anderson explained that, for awhile, Hutcherson was actually the lead Pirate runner, which he said is an almost unheard-of accomplishment for a freshmen.
“The main goal was to experience a much bigger race,” Anderson said, adding that the Colorado Springs meet is similar in size to the state meet.
“We wanted to see the course, experience a big meet, get a hard workout and get the lay of the land. We accomplished all of that,” Anderson said.
This Saturday, the Pirates face their biggest rivals, Bayfield and Alamosa, in Alamosa at the Cattails Golf Course.
“It’s a flat and fast course with nowhere to hide,” Anderson said, but he added that since he has trained the Pirates to be the ones hunting for the top spot, and not the prey, they don’t need to hide.