Bayfield High School will send one to the state cross-country championships next weekend in Colorado Springs.
Senior boys runner Zeb Shields placed fifth Friday morning in the 3A Region 1 race hosted by the Wolverines at Hillcrest Golf Club in Durango. He crossed the finish line in 16 minutes, 56 seconds to solidify his spot.
“Mostly, I just wanted to qualify,” Shields said. “I didn’t want to kill myself. I like the state course and feel like it’s probably set up for my best race. So, I wanted to focus on that.”
Gunnison senior Alex Baca torched the 5-kilometer course with a winning time of 15:58. That was 16 seconds clear of Alamosa’s Joshua Medina and 51 seconds faster than third-place Gabe Heraty of Pagosa Springs. There were 72 runners in the race.
“I felt really good out there today,” said Baca, a state favorite. “This is an amazing, beautiful course, and it was my first time running it; I was really fortunate to get the opportunity this year. And I just felt amazing; it was a good day.”
Alamosa won with a team score of 47 points. Gunnison was second with 61, and Moffat County scored 116 to finish third. The top three teams qualified all six of their runners to go to state. The next two highest-placed individuals also gained entrance to state, which will be held next Saturday at the Norris-Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs.
Basalt dominated the girls race with a top-three sweep. Sophomore Katelyn Maley finished in 18:58 to win. Sierra Bower, a senior, finished in 19:12 for second, and sophomore Ava Lane was third in 19:13. But Aspen narrowly got past Basalt to win the team title with five girls in the top 15, while Basalt’s next finishers were 17th and 36th. Aspen scored 51 points, Basalt had 59 and Moffat County had 99.
Individual qualifiers to state in the girls race were Mikayla Cheney of Coal Ridge, who finished fourth in 19:16, and Sarah DeLaCerda, an Alamosa freshman who was sixth in 19:20.
Shields said it will be a bit lonely going as the only BHS runner to state, but he has found a community running with some of the other top runners from Alamosa and Pagosa Springs this season.
“In a weird way, they’re kind of becoming my team and what I’m going to need at state,” Shields said. “So, I’ll be just as happy for how they do as how I do.”
There are fewer state qualifiers this year because of COVID-19 pandemic health guidelines. BHS head coach Josh Walton said that hurt some of the Wolverines’ chances this season.
“Everyone was running really well. It’s just hard this year with the current situation as compared to in the past when we’ve had 15 individuals go,” he said. “We had a lot of kids in the top 15 that aren’t getting the opportunity to compete at the state level just because of the situation we’re in; I feel really bad for, especially, those seniors in the top 15 that didn’t make it.”
Shields makes it eight years in a row for a BHS runner to qualify for state.
Joel Priest contributed to this firstname.lastname@example.org