Pirates: Success in packing at Cortez meet

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Photo courtesy Jamilyn Harms The Lady Pirates cross-country team runs together during the second mile of last Saturday’s meet in Cortez. Both the boys’ and girls’ teams were challenged to work on packing closer together during the meet to help improve team scoring — something the girls clearly accomplished, with the seven runners finishing fourth through 10th.
Photo courtesy Jamilyn Harms
The Lady Pirates cross-country team runs together during the second mile of last Saturday’s meet in Cortez. Both the boys’ and girls’ teams were challenged to work on packing closer together during the meet to help improve team scoring — something the girls clearly accomplished, with the seven runners finishing fourth through 10th.

It’s safe to say that the Pagosa Springs High School cross-country teams’ goals of running in a tighter pack last weekend in Cortez were met.

With regionals taking place on Oct. 18, coach Scott Anderson deemed the Cortez meet as a good opportunity for the teams to focus less on competing overall and instead focus on packing tighter, which can serve to help the team score higher.

The teams focused on tightening their pack teams during the meet, with coach Scott Anderson pairing one of the team’s top finishers with another runner to coach during the race.

While working to teach their partner runners, the coaching runners were also competing to have their runners surpass the team’s next pair.

And it worked.

For the girls, not only did the team’s leader keep changing as the race progressed, but the team also took the fourth through 10th finishes at the meet, which included about 40 runners on the girls’ side.

“They came around the mile mark and, oh my gosh, there was the whole team,” Anderson said. “And it was beautiful.”

The Lady Pirates finished as the top team, as well.

Sage Mijares finished fourth for the Pirates, with Taylor Lee-Hammer finishing fifth. Both girls finished in 23 minutes, 57 seconds.

The pair of Molly Burkesmith and Kori Mogensen finished sixth and seventh, respectively, running the course in 24:06.

Anderson called the race Burkesmith’s best of her young career and noted she has been steadily progressing and “has moved herself into serious contention to hang on to a varsity spot” for regionals.

Maddie Greenly and Delaney Khung finished three seconds behind to take eighth and ninth, respectively.

Hannah Marnocha rounded out the varsity Lady Pirates in 10th place in 24:15.

“They all ran excellent races,” Anderson said.

Olivia Reinhardt sat the race out as a precaution, Anderson noted.

In addition to helping the team run as a tighter group, Anderson said the team walked away from the meet with stronger connections to each other, noting there was a “lot more team-building than expected.”

The coach added, “Everybody seemed to get something positive out of it (and) come away motivated, improved, touched.”

Also boding well for the Lady Pirates was Andie Miller’s first-place finish in the JV race.

The boys’ team employed the same technique at the meet, also with positive results and a fourth-place finish for the team, even though the team didn’t pack as tightly as the girls.

Ben Miller and Nick Hutcherson finished 16th and 17th at the meet in 20:23, with Anderson calling the race Miller’s best of the year.

The trio of Michael Iverson, Jacob Hughes and Ethan Brown finished 20th, 21st and 22nd, respectively, with the three finishing in 20:40.

Keanan Anderson and Chris Archuleta finished 33rd and 34th among the field of about 50 runners, with the pair finishing in 22:07.

“Overall, it worked pretty well,” the coach said.

With one more meet left before the regional race in Colorado Springs Oct. 18, Anderson said one of the focuses of the team’s this Friday at the Eric Wolfe Invitational in Monte Vista will be to get back in rhythm.

The meet will also help decide which runners will represent the Pirates at regionals.