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Bluejays, Bears look to lead the pack

Mancos’ Teagan Archer (97) passes Dolores' Maya Lowe during the high school girls race at the Boggy Draw Bear Chase last year. (Joel Priest/Special to The Journal)
Mancos and Dolores cross-country teams hold plenty of promise

One area team seeks to head into uncharted territory, another hopes to continue a tradition. The Dolores and Mancos girls cross-country programs have left a significant footprint on the 2A landscape, as both teams set their sights on a trip to the pinnacle – the state championships – this October.

Bluejays eye another top 10 finish

For Mancos head coach Brady Archer’s Jays, last year’s 10th place mark in the state meet places the program in some elite company. Yet, for all the experience, the team still retains its status as a young group.

All-state runner Teagan Archer, a sophomore, looks to pace the program again, and along with senior Madilynn Ritter, aims to guide an incoming group of freshman to a strong season.

Stemming from a strong track and field season this past spring, Brady Archer commended his group’s willingness to chase after new heights.

“The time that they put in this summer will show throughout the season,” said the Bluejays head coach, “and our new additions to our girls team will give us a lot of depth for a school of our size.”

Mancos finished runner-up in their regional meet last season, and that top-tier experience will serve them well heading into the fall.

“Early in the season, we concentrate on gaining fitness," said Archer, “and we'll get to work together in those first few meets.”

Included in those competitions will be their annual trip to Colorado Springs to the Norris Penrose Events Center for the Cheyenne Mountain Stampede – a preview of the state course against some of the best programs in the state.

While the boys program graduated its top two runners, postseason experience will help serve the Jays as they continue to build back a team that has made a constant presence in the state meet over recent years – including a 16th place finish in the meet in 2021.

Mancos will host the annual Chicken Creek Challenge on Oct. 1, before traveling to Delta three weeks later for the 2A Region 4 championships. The top teams and individual performers qualify for the state championships on Oct. 29 in the Springs.

Bears hungry for state

The Dolores girls XC program has made a huge surge to the front of the pack. Last season, the Bears finished achingly close to a top-four spot in the region, which would have qualified them for a state berth.

Instead, the experience has fueled a young Dolores squad to push for the summit this year.

Under the guidance of head coach Angie Lowe, the Bears bring back their entire varsity group from a year ago, with a balanced sophomore class providing the key to success this autumn.

Elia and Maya Lowe joined Kiera LaRose and Siena Parr in a tightly knit pack for the Bears, with the quartet frequently crossing the line in quick succession of one another.

“We’ll continue to focus on running in a pack,” said the Dolores head coach, “and since these girls have all been running together since sixth grade, they trust each other and are able to push one another.”

Senior Noble Traweek brings experience for a young squad aiming to reach a place that Dolores cross-country hasn't tread for many years.

The boys program will look to build up numbers in the fall, with sophomore Wyatt Kiddoo providing a steady influence for the program. He'll be joined by freshman Bridger Beyhan as Lowe's squad looks to fight for top spots among the area's best.

Offseason training looks to be paying dividends for the Bears.

“We're already stronger runners than we were at this time last year," said Lowe, ”so we're excited to get the season going.“

Dolores will join Mancos at meets in Alamosa and Bayfield in the early part of the season, with a big invitational at the Four Corners Classic in Durango serving as a final tune-up before the regional meet on Oct. 21 at Confluence Park in Delta.