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Local cross-country teams prep for fall racing season

Mancos’ Edgar Hernandez begins the long final stretch in the 2020 Four Corners Southwest Classic in Durango. Hernandez placed a Mancos-best 11th overall in 18:43. (The Journal file)
Panthers, Bears and Bluejays set big goals

The cross-country teams from the Four Corners can boast about having some of the most rigorous 5K courses in the state. With the goal of preparing physically and mentally for the challenges they may face, the Montezuma-Cortez, Dolores and Mancos cross-country programs kick off another season of racing this month.

With all three programs graduating top runners this past spring, new faces are expected to emerge near the front of the pack. For M-CHS, a pair of seniors, Emalie Myers and Kalea Hunt, have been consistent varsity team members during their four years and will look to guide a young Panthers cross-country team this fall. Myers consistently ran as the team’s second runner last fall and will look to help the Panthers improve on a 10th-place finish in last year’s 3A Region 1 meet.

Montezuma-Cortez’s Emalie Myers comes up the final hill at Dolores’ inaugural Boggy Draw Bear Chase in 2019. The Panthers earned the team title. (Joel Priest/Special to The Journal)

Head coach Joey Schrichte takes over the program after the retirement of longtime M-CHS cross-country coach Paul Koops and is excited about the positivity and work ethic from his squad. “We got a lot of momentum during the summer months,” he said, “and the athletes are really taking ownership of the program.”

Included in that ownership is a commitment to increase mileage this fall, added Schrichte, with the goal of improving late-race endurance. The Panthers have also cut back their racing schedule to allow for recovery and more focus on hard workouts.

M-CHS will kick off its season with their home meet, which will be run at Parque de Vida for the second consecutive year. Race day is slated for Friday, Aug. 27, with the Montezuma-Cortez Middle School hosting races at 4 p.m. and the high school competition at 5 p.m. The Panthers’ season of competition will culminate at VIX Park in New Castle on Friday, Oct. 22, with the 3A Region 1 Championship meet.

Mancos and head coach Brady Archer anticipate they will continue their competitive ways, in spite of losses to graduation. The Bluejays return the top male runner in the area in senior Edgar Hernandez, who finished 10th overall in the 2A Region 4 meet from last fall, finishing just outside a state-qualifying position. Hernandez put together a spectacular track and field season finishing on the podium in both the 800 and 1,600 runs.

Mancos’ Connor Sehnert (577) recorded a fourth-place time of 19:23 in the 2020 Chicken Creek Challenge’s boys’ varsity race. (The Journal file)

Hernandez joins classmate Connor Sehnert as leaders for the upcoming fall, with Sehnert also taking a top 25 finish from the regional meet from a year ago.

Mancos will open its season at Dolores’ Boggy Draw Bear Chase on Friday, Aug. 20, followed by the M-CHS meet. The Bluejays will host their annual Chicken Creek Challenge on Saturday, Oct. 9, in a final tuneup for the 2A Region 4 meet later that month.

Dolores head coach Angela Lowe continues to build strong numbers for a program that also lost its top runners for both the boys and girls to graduation. With a rising middle school program that is supporting the growth of the high school teams, the Bears appear poised to continue to raise their profile on the regional cross-country scene.

As the girls program continues to grow, the boys squad aims to improve on a 13th-place team finish at last year’s regional meet.

The Bears will showcase some of their up-and-coming standouts in their home meet on Aug. 20th at Boggy Draw through the rolling terrain of the popular trail system.