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Dolores girls relay team continues to improve

Squad now ranked 11th in 2A classification

DOLORES – If the Dolores girls 3,200-meter relay squad feels the pressure of an improved junior season, they don’t let it show.

Keira Larose, Everlee Heaton, and sisters Maya and Elia Lowe were all smiles in the final warmups before their race at the Ron Keller Invitational Saturday in Durango, then they beat their season best by 16 seconds.

The junior teammates posted a time of 11 minutes, 20 seconds and a third-place finish in the meet. Dolores was ranked 11th in the 2A girls 3,200 relay team rankings going into the meet, according to MaxPreps, and it looks to qualify for state in that event for the first time since 2013.

Dolores sent a girls 800-meter relay team to state in 2018.

“The nerves are definitely there, but we had our goal in mind,” Heaton said. “We have a lot of trust in our training – so if we can hit our times in practice, we can do it in a race.”

Over the years, most of the Bears’ state qualifiers have been in the sprints and field events.

This fall, the school’s first state qualifying cross-country team, guided by the same foursome, looked to carry that momentum into spring.

Working toward beating their personal best – just two seconds in front of them – began with diligent training that included runs in the DHS Fieldhouse during basketball season.

Dolores 3,200-meter relay teammates, from left, Keira Larose, Elia Lowe and Maya Lowe share a light moment before they take the line at the Ron Keller Invitational on Saturday in Durango. (Ben Bradley/Special to the Journal)

“We did a lot of winter running, which was really helpful,” Maya Lowe said. “After cross-country, we felt inspired to be able to come out for track and keep working hard.”

Bookended by the Lowes, with Maya Lowe as leadoff and Elia Lowe as anchor, the Bears ran with purpose, even during stretches when Larose and Heaton found themselves racing the clock. All four girls clipped time off their previous season bests.

Larose said the Bears are focusing on developing speed for events like the 3,200 relay.

“When you’re out there, it’s not about you – even if you’re tired. Everyone else has already put everything into their leg, so you’re going to do it, too,” Elia Lowe said.

The Bears stay grounded with their approach to what the sport means to them.

“We only get four years to compete, and I can’t imagine not having a team to share this with,” said Larose, and Elia Lowe added, “It’s a part of our life, year-round.”

“There’s a lot of gratitude,” Heaton said. “We remind ourselves that we don’t ‘have’ to do this, we’re choosing to, and it’s become part of our identity.”

The boys 3,200-meter relay team, which also eyes a state qualifying spot, shaved seven seconds from its previous mark, with Michael Rantz, Owen Lowe, Corvin Smith, and Bridger Beyhan crossing in 9:29.

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