Mancos’ girls cross-country team might have gained some mental motivation as a small formation of F-16 Fighting Falcons flew overhead during a pre-race walk-through of the challenging Norris-Penrose Event Center/Bear Creek Park cross-country course on Friday.
And as one of only two Class 2A crews representing Southwest Colorado at the Cheyenne Mountain Stampede Friday, Mancos set their postseason hopes high with a strong fifth-place performance on the CHSAA State Championship route.
“It’s pretty crazy being on the state course without actually making it to state – it’s a weird, like, psych thing,” said Madilynn Ritter, who finished the Stampede’s 2A Girls’ feature 34th overall in 25 minutes, 41.3 seconds. “But the hills, they’re interesting—there’s some steep ones – but it’s a nice course, some nice shaded areas.”
“It was nerve-wracking, a little,” agreed Teagan Archer, who paced the squad with her 12th-place 23:47.9. “It was really hot, but the course … I’m pretty used to having a lot of hills, so it was all right.”
“I think I’m getting faster every week, definitely; I feel strong,” she said. “I’m just going to work harder, make sure that I’m putting in the training to get better.”
All told, the Bluejays finished with an adjusted (non-scoring individuals were excluded from the figuring) score-4 total of 109 points – bettering San Juan Basin League rivals Ignacio by one point in cracking the standings’ top 5 – while Colorado Springs Christian earned the team title with a meet-low 28.
Despite a four-runner pack finishing 26th through 29th individually, Buena Vista settled for second with 38 points, and Fort Collins Heritage Christian Academy, also tallying 38, ranked third because of a lower-placing No. 5 runner.
Individually, Buena Vista’s Zaila Smith won in 20:14.4, and Golden View Classical Academy’s Eliana Caucutt finished second in 20:40.2. Third place went to ColoradoSprings Christian’s Elle Stevens (20:57.6); and fourth, to Crested Butte’s Ruby Pendy (21:30.4).
For Mancos, Chloe Endres finished 43rd in 26:39.1. Adaline Kearns took 51st in 27:15.1 and Sarah Knezek 70th in 30:36.2. Aspen Bumgarner was right behind in 71st, clocking 31:08.3.
Up next, the Mancos girls team will compete Sept. 11, in Alamosa at the Joe I. Vigil Invitational at Cattails Golf Course. And with the Bayfield Invitational slated for the following weekend, Ritter expressed a simple group philosophy for the rest of the 2021 season:
“Push every week in practice, and at each meet just try to be better every time,” she said. “No matter how much it hurts.”