Last weekend at the 19th annual Joe Vigil Open in Alamosa, the Pirate cross country boys’ and girls’ teams did not take home first place, but coach Scott Anderson said individual runners improved, shaving one to six minutes off their times.
One reason, besides the flat course, was the weather — cooler temperatures, cloud coverage and only light winds.
In the lead for the Pirates was junior Emily Bryant, who placed second with a time of 18 minutes and 56 seconds, which was 19 seconds behind Durango’s Shannon Maloney who took home first.
“Emily did great,” Anderson said.
The Pirates knew going to Alamosa that it was a fast course, a flat course; times were expected to drop. However, what Anderson said made the biggest difference to Bryant wasn’t the level terrain underneath the feet, but that she has begun to believe in herself. Anderson said that, at this level, part of the game is physical, fitness, being in shape, but the bigger part of the game is played in the head.
“Emily was leading three quarters of the race,” Anderson said, but it was Maloney who ran the smarter race and ended up taking the lead in the last quarter of the race.
“Emily improved a lot this week and is racing better. She works hard,” Anderson said.
For Bryant, though, she was expecting to face Bayfield’s Eva-Lou Edwards, who had the second fastest overall time at the Cheyenne Stampede. When Edwards did not show up, due to other competitions, Bryant was thrown off. Tomorrow, at the Adidas Doherty Spartan Cross Country meet at Fort Lewis College, Bryant will run against Edwards.
Junior Dana Danielson placed 22nd at the Alamosa meet with a time of 21.15. Danielson has been nursing an injury through the summer, but at this meet, Anderson said she began to show a return to form.
Freshman Olivia Reinhardt was the next Pirate to finish, coming in 34th with a time of 21.47. “She had a solid day,” Anderson said.
The Lady Pirates placed fifth in a field of 18 teams.
The Pagosa boys’ team has a different strength than the girls. While the girls have one strong, lead runner in Bryant, the boys have the strength of the pack.
There is no one runner expected to take the lead each week. One week it might be senior Daniel Sloan, the next week it could be junior Zack Ellis or junior Mason Chronowski, who was the top Pirate runner at Alamosa, placing 23rd with a time of 17.41.
The boys have a tight pack of five runners, Anderson said. Out of those five, four last week improved their times by an average of four minutes each. This improvement, Anderson explained, is a big one; the trajectory it’s setting the team on is one of steep improvement, steeper than the Pirates’ Bayfield rivals.
This Friday, at the Adidas Doherty Spartan Cross Country meet at Fort Lewis College, the Pirates will have another chance to improve, compete and become faster as individuals and as a team.