Pirate harriers ready for a ‘difficult’ regional meet

Photo courtesy Joel Priest
Pagosa’s Clayton Cayard takes to the course of Mancos’ Chicken Creek Challenge on Oct. 3. Cayard finished 11th overall in the final regular-season meet.

By Randi Pierce
Staff Writer

Pagosa Springs High School senior Megan Greenly wrapped up the regular season in big fashion Saturday, finishing first at Mancos’ Chicken Creek Challenge.

Greenly was one of several Pirate harriers to finish the regular season strong, with multiple Pirates logging personal records (PRs) and some of their best times of the season.

“I think last weekend went really well,” coach Rachael Christiansen said, noting that the weekend served as a rest for some runners, while others appeared in a variety of races to help them prepare for this week’s regional meet.

Greenly finished with a time of 22 minutes, 33 seconds, besting 34 other runners at the Chicken Creek Challenge.

Christiansen explained she talked with Greenly before the race and told her she had the ability to be toward the front.

“And she went out there and did it,” the coach said, adding she was “super impressed” because Greenly beat runners who had beaten her every other time they met this season.

Ruth Ann Morehouse finished eighth overall with a time of 24:06 — a new PR by almost two minutes and her first time breaking the 25-minute mark.

Christiansen noted Morehouse finished first in her wave and ended the race feeling confident.

Ivory Carpenter followed in 12th with a time of 24:30 — her second-fastest race of the season.

“Ivory ran an awesome race,” the coach said, adding she’s proud of the effort. 

Photo courtesy Rachael Christiansen
Lady Pirate Megan Greenly smiles around the second mile of the Chicken Creek Challenge in Mancos on Oct. 3. Greenly finished first at the meet.

Samy Owen nabbed 19th in her first varsity race of the season, finishing with a time of 26:12 — her best of the season.

Sophia Raymond finished 26th with a time of 28:19 (a season best and almost eight minutes faster than the previous week), and Peyton Khung finished 34th in 33:32 in her first race of the season.

“I think last weekend was awesome for the girls that ran,” the coach said, calling it a confidence boost and a good note to end the regular season on. “It was all smiles at the end of that meet.”

On the boys’ side, Noah Weiszbrod led the Pirates with a PR time of 20:29 to finish eighth at the Chicken Creek Challenge and earn a spot on the Pirates’ varsity squad at regionals.

“He went out and ran a phenomenal race and earned himself that sixth place on the varsity team,” Christiansen said.

Clayton Cayard followed in 11th with a time of 20:43, while Cole Reis finished 13th with a time of 21:04.

Caleb Crabtree, in his second race of the week, finished 35th in 25:34.

Other Pirate varsity runners took part in a JV race in Ignacio last week, with Andrew Bowles winning that race and accomplishing his goal of breaking the 20-minute mark, setting a new PR.

“That was a huge accomplishment for him, and he did it all by himself,” Christiansen said, pointing out the finish gave him confidence heading into regionals and adding, “He was out there pushing the pace completely on his own, which really makes it even more impressive that he wasn’t hanging on to somebody, he wasn’t using someone else to propel him forward. It was just pure Andrew.”

Levi Hinger took part in the same race but at an easier pace following an injury.

Christiansen noted Hinger felt very little pain and is expected to be back with the varsity squad for tomorrow’s competition.

“I think mentally they’re in a good place,” Christiansen said of the boys’ squad, adding that morale is high and the harriers are excited for what will be a very difficult regional race.

At Friday’s regional competition, the Pirate squads will each look to be one of three teams to advance to the state meet on Oct. 17 — down from the usual four teams.

This year, Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) is allowing 100 athletes per gender per classification at the state meet due to COVID-19 limitations.

Those 100 athletes will comprise the runners from 15 teams that advance from the five regional competitions, as well as the top two finishers at regional competition who are not part of a team that is advancing.

CHSAA announced Monday that all teams will be able to participate in regional meets, meaning the Pirate teams will face off against 11 other teams, including strong teams from Aspen, Basalt, Moffat County and Alamosa.

Each team will be allowed six runners, with five contributing to the team score.

The meet will be held at Hillcrest Golf Club in Durango, with the girls’ race starting at 9 a.m. and the boys’ race following at 10 a.m.

Christiansen noted the teams are ready and the runners are focusing on the fact that they can’t control their competition, only themselves and the race they run.

“We can’t control who we run against,” Christiansen said, adding, “On both sides our region is really strong. And, ultimately, that is a good thing. It’s good to have strong competition, but it’s definitely, it’s going to make this year very challenging for us to move forward to state, but it’s not going to be impossible.”