It’s a cause for celebration for the Bayfield High School boys cross-country team, as the Wolverines will head to next week’s state meet as a team for the first time since 2013 after a stellar performance in Friday’s Class 3A Region 1 meet in El Jebel.
Gunnison took home the team title with 53 points, BHS was second with 63, Moffat County took third with 70 points and Pagosa Springs took the last at-large team spot with 104 points.
Three Wolverines finished in the top five, while two others were in the top 30. Elco Garcia paced BHS with a second-place finish in 16 minutes, 31.4 seconds. Zeb Shields was fourth overall and crossed the finish line in 16:56, while Jonas Nanaeto rounded out the top five with a finish in 17:19. Alex Baca of Gunnison won the race in 16:12.
“Elco, Jonas and Zeb all had really good races,” said BHS head coach Josh Walton. “They stayed with the pack the entire race, and Elco made a move with 800 meters to go to take second for good. Zeb and Jonas finished shortly after, and it was a really impressive performance from them.”
Rylan Ross was 23rd, and was Bayfield’s fourth-best runner on the day with a time of 18:43, while Royce Hinojosa set a personal record and finished in 32nd with a time of 19:04.
After narrowly missing out as a team with fifth-place finishes in each of the last three years, Walton said the boys ran with a clear purpose.
“In each of the last few years, we’ve taken fifth at regionals and just missed out as a team,” Walton said. “For this group to break through in tough conditions, I couldn’t be happier. Two years ago, they missed out by six points, and last year it was 13. They laid it all out there on the course today.”
On the girls side, Bayfield finished in ninth out of nine teams with 262 points. All five Wolverines ran personal records, and Eli Ion led BHS with a time of 24:48.
Basalt took home the team title with 35 points, Aspen was second with 41, Moffat County was third with 85 and Pagosa Springs was fourth with 103. Sierra Bower of Basalt won the race in 19:08, while Kylie Kenny of Aspen was second in 19:23.
“I thought the girls ran amazing today,” Walton said. “It was by far their best race of the season. I was really pleased with (Ion), and can easily see her making state in a few years.”
Durango High SchoolThe Durango High School boys cross-country teams needed a last-gasp effort from No. 3 runner Logan Moore, but he was able to edge Montrose’s Sean Graff for a fourth-place finish, but the kick won the Demons a regional title.
Durango edged Cheyenne Mountain by one point to take home the Class 4A Region 5 title at Confluence Park in Delta, as the Demons finished with 41 points, while Cheyenne Mountain had 42. The girls also took home a regional title, as the Demons had 38 points, while Cheyenne Mountain was second with 65.
“I’m so pleased with both teams’ efforts today,” said DHS head coach Ken Flint. “The girls took care of business, while the boys surprised the No. 2 team in Class 4A for an awesome win. Everybody ran well today. I knew the guys had it in them, and they put it all together today.”
Luke Tichi led the boys team and finished second overall with a time of 15:36. Paul Knight finished in third in 15:57, while Moore beat Graff at the line to take fourth, as he finished in 16:05.18, while Graff clocked in 16:05.37. Land Lambert finished in 16th in 16:47, while Aiden Quayle was 18th in 17:00. Erik La Roux of Cheyenne Mountain won the race in 15:21.
Madeleine Burns got off to a fast start in the girls race and did not look back, as she won the regional title in 18:27, and beat Aspen Fulbright of Pueblo West in 18:51. The Demons had all nine runners in the top 20, and had three finish within one second of each other. Kiara Hamlin, Tea Forrest and Angela McManus rounded out the top 10, and all finished in 19:45.
“It’s a really good confidence-builder heading into next week,” Flint said.
“Now they know they can compete at that level and have a special performance like that.”
Ignacio High SchoolThe Ignacio High School girls cross-country team will also have a representative at the state meet, after the Bobcats had one runner qualify.
Charlize Valdez finished in second place at Friday’s Class 2A Region 4 meet also held at Confluence Park in Delta, with a time of 20:41. Avaleena Nanaeto, a 2018 state qualifier, will return to state for a second successive year after she finished in 14th in 21:48.
All three schools will compete at the Colorado High School Activities Association state cross-country meet next Saturday at the Norris Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs.