By Lindsey Bright
In the last few weeks, the Pagosa cross country team has seen its share of ups and downs, both on and off the course.
Runners have been out with injuries and sickness.
“We had a skinny crew, both figuratively and literally,” coach Scott Anderson said.
Seven Pirates went to the 4A Adidas Doherty Spartan Cross Country meet in Colorado Springs last Friday; six Pirates represented Pagosa at the Montezuma-Cortez Ancient Trails meet in Cortez on Saturday.
At the Colorado Springs meet, Anderson knew that the Pirates would be running in a bigger league, with over 200 runners. The goal was to push his best runners, but also prepare the team for the state meet. Part of the course at the past meet will be included in the state course.
“This was what we were after,” Anderson said, and when the Pirates got out of the bus after a five-hour drive, he said it was to a glorious cross country day: cool temperatures, thick gray clouds, the feel of snow in the air. “A glorious day to run,” Anderson said, and he said all the Pirates echoed his sentiments.
Although the size of the meet had the potential to be intimidating, Anderson knew that the Pirates could handle it, especially junior Emily Bryant.
Anderson had looked at the times of the 4A top girls and came away with one line of advice for Bryant, “You can run with these girls.”
And Bryant did.
Bryant finished in sixth place with a time of 19 minutes and six seconds.
As the race began, it unfolded as Anderson expected, a front pack emerged, and Bryant was in the thick of it. Then, three-quarters of the way through the race, going up one of the hills, Anderson saw Bryant make her move to the top spot. However, with half a mile or so left in the race, Bryant faded into sixth place.
“I’m really happy with the finish,” Anderson said. “On the one hand, maybe she made her move too early, but she was feeling it. She wasn’t racing for second anymore. She’s not intimidated anymore.” With that, Anderson is happy. He also adds that the girl who won the race set a course record.
Freshman Tayler Lee-Hammer was the next Pirate to finish, a little over two minutes behind Bryant with a time of 22.30, which earned her 91st place. Senior Dana Danielson was not far behind to take 106th place with a 23.12. Devon Jurcak took 119 place with a 23.21.
“They did well,” Anderson said.
On the boys’ side, only three boys were running: junior Mason Chronowski, junior Tyler Greenly and sophomore Ben Miller.
“They all ran really well,” Anderson said. Most of the boys had battled some type of illness during the past two weeks.
“Chronowski didn’t have his best meet, but he came back from one of the worst races of his life really strong,” Anderson said. Chronowski was the first Pirate to finish with a 17.50 for a 49th place.
Greenly took 61st with a 18.12. “Coming back from sickness, he’s not far off from where he was,” Anderson said.
Miller took 141st place with a 19.43. For his first big meet, Anderson said he did well and raced under 20 minutes.
“Every kid ran a great race this week,” Anderson said.
Over in Cortez, seven Pirates took to the course. Two girls faded during the race, succumbing to the sickness that seems to be one of the Pirates’ biggest foes at this time of the season.
On the girls’ side, junior Jessie Tuller took 28th with a 29.24. Sophomore Mesa Lynch was close behind in 29th place with a 29.45.
“They ran solid,” Anderson said, and did a good job packing.
For the boys, senior Daniel Sloan placed 12th with a 19.47. Freshman Nick Hutcherson took 14th with a 19.52.
“They ran really well for not having their teammates around,” Anderson said.
Freshman Liam O’Brien took 31st with a 22.22.
The Pirates’ next meet is this Friday in Monte Vista. It’s the last race before regionals in Delta.
Anderson will use this race to select his team for regionals and hopefully state.
“It’s a flat fast course, even at 8,000 feet,” Anderson said.
Despite the illness that has been keeping some runners at home, Anderson hopes to have a full team racing.