With nearly every runner setting or tying personal records at regional competition at Delta last Friday, both the boys’ and girls’ Pirate cross country teams are state-bound this weekend.
The state meet takes place Saturday at the Norris Penrose Event Center in Colorado Springs, where the Pirates raced at their first meet of the season.
To get there, the girls placed second in regional competition, with the boys earning their spot with a fifth-place team finish.
The girls placed second at the meet with 40 points, behind Moffat County (39 points), but two points ahead of rival Bayfield’s 42 points.
“That was quite a race,” coach Scott Anderson said, noting the three points separating the top three teams. “It was actually a pretty good deal.”
The meet was also the first on the year where the Lady Pirates finished ahead of Bayfield.
“They had good days and it was just an exciting meet,” Anderson said.
Emily Bryant again led the way for the Lady Pirates, finishing second overall in 19 minutes even.
Olivia Reinhardt finished fifth in 19:59.
The meet was the second time in memory that two Pirate girls have finished under 20 minutes, Anderson said.
Taylor Hammer-Lee followed in 15th with a time of 20:53.
The next finisher was Maddie Greenly in 18th with a time of 21:24.
Rounding out the Lady Pirate racers were Dana Danielson in 30th with a time of 22:28, and Delany Khung in 38th at 23:06.
All the Lady Pirates but Bryant recorded personal records on the lower-altitude, fast course.
Heading to the state meet, the girls are ranked seventh in Class 3A, with Moffat County heading in with a fourth-place ranking. The rankings are roughly calculated using the best finish times from the season for each team.
The primary difference in the rankings for the two teams, Anderson said, is that Moffat County has packed better than the Pirates throughout the season (while about 55 seconds may mean a difference of about 10 places crossing the finish line at a regional meet, it may mean a difference of 40 to 50 places at a larger meet, making team members finishing in packs more important in final scoring).
Anderson said he expects to see a tighter pack from the girls at the state competition.
The boys placed fifth at the regional meet, behind Aspen, Olathe, Bayfield and Gunnison.
The boys had several close finishers, indicating success on the team’s work on packing.
“At the right time, things are coming together,” Anderson said. “They packed together fairly well.”
Nick Hutcherson and Tyler Greenly led the way for the Pirate boys, with Hutcherson finishing 12th in 17:36 and Greenly 13th at 17:44.
“Nick was finally feeling better, so he ran a good race. Tyler actually got pushed off into the sticks and had a pretty good crash, so it took him a little bit to recover from that,” Anderson said of his top two finishers.
Mason Chronowski continued to fight the effects of a previous medical condition and finished 18th in 17:54.
Liam O’Brien followed in 25th at 18:07.
“Liam had a really good race,” Anderson noted.
Chris Archuleta and Ben Miller finished 29th and 30th respectively, both with a time of 18:21.
Ethan Brown was the final Pirate finisher, ranking 36th with a time of 18:44.
Aside from Greenly, everyone on the boys’ team either tied his previous or set a new personal record. Hutcherson essentially tied his previous personal record, with only tenths of a second difference.
“They were able to make it,” Anderson said of the team’s advancement to state.
Heading into the state competition, the boys are ranked 17th among 3A schools, but Anderson said the team’s goal is to finish ahead of that ranking.
Anderson said the team is not necessarily aiming to win the meet, but is rather working to be unafraid, run to the best of their abilities, leave it all on the race course, and see how well they can do.
“Anything can happen on the day and, particularly, on this course,” Anderson said of both teams’ chances in Colorado Springs.
Anderson said the course is challenging and technical, including hills that the runners must be aware of and plan for.
And, the team is heading into the meet with one of their mottos in mind: “Pressure is nothing but the shadow of opportunity.”
The boys’ race begins at 10 a.m., with the girls following at noon.