With regionals taking place in Delta Friday and illness lurking in Pagosa Springs, health is key for the Pirate runners.
Several Pirates have been hit with illness and injury recently, but are looking to bounce back as the post season looms.
“If they’re healthy, all the pieces will fall together,” said coach Scott Anderson.
Both teams hope to be both healthy and in peak form Friday and, if last week’s Eric Wolff Invitational in Monte Vista is any indication, they’re on their way.
“Things are coming together well,” Anderson said.
The girls’ side of the Pirate team finished first at the meet, led by Emily Bryant in first individually, and Olivia Reinhardt in second.
“The one-two finish was really nice to see,” Anderson said, calling it a big race for Reinhardt, who decided to not run with anyone, but to set out ahead of the pack.
Bryant finished with a time of 20:11, with Reinhardt finishing in 21:16.
Maddie Greenly was the next Pirate finisher, crossing the line 10th with a time of 22:24. Rounding out the scoring runners was Taylor Hammer-Lee, who finished 12th in 22:20.
“Maddie and Taylor ran strong, so, once again, the girls are … on pace to do well … at regionals,” Anderson said.
Finishing out the Lady Pirate runners were Delany Khung in 29th at 24:09, Dana Danielson in 32nd at 24:17, Megan Ellis in 40th at 25:45 and Andie Miller in 48th at 28:23.
“Forward thinking, the girls should be able to qualify as a team,” Anderson said of this week’s regional action.
Six Lady Pirates will take part in the regional competition — Bryant, Reinhardt, Greenly, Hammer-Lee, Khung and Danielson.
“Our greatest competition will come from down the road in Bayfield,” Anderson said, adding that Moffat County will probably land as the top team in the region again (Moffat County downgraded from 4A to 3A two years ago). “We’ll see if we can give ‘em a run for their money.”
On the boys’ side, the Monte Vista race showed continued improvement in grouping just in time for regional action.
“The guys are showing signs of coming together when we need them to, which is this next weekend,” Anderson said. “The guys have a good shot at qualifying, but trying to make a little more noise than just qualifying.”
That improvement showed itself last week in Monte Vista, when the team finished fourth.
Tyler Greenly led the team with a fourth-place finish in 18:29, rebounding from a rough race the week before in which he crawled across the finish line.
“Tyler ran really strong and, particularly, recovering from his race of the week before,” Anderson said. “He overcame that well.”
Nick Hutcherson was the next Pirate finisher, finishing 23rd in 19:25.
“Nick ran strong for still being somewhat sick,” Anderson said.
Mason Chronowski, too, impressed Anderson with his race and a 27th-place finish in 19:44.
Anderson said Chronowski started out with the leaders in the race, but, upon aggravating a previous medical condition, dropped back. Around mid course, Anderson said Chronowski began to recover, putting himself back into the race.
Liam O’Brien rounded out the scoring for the Pirates with his 32nd-place finish in 19:54.
Chris Archuleta and Ethan Brown also ran varsity at the event, with Archuleta finishing 35th in 19:56 and Brown in 40th at 20:39.
In addition to the six runners who competed at the varsity level last week, Ben Miller will join the varsity squad for this week’s regionals.
Miller finished second at a time of 20:11 in the JV race in Monte Vista.
Ten teams are expected to take part in regionals in Delta this week, with close to 100 boys racing and 70-80 girls on the course.
And one thing is clear to the Pirates, who have worked on racing as a team throughout the entire season — it’s a team effort.
“They all share the same burden on race day,” Anderson said.