High schools are already a couple of months into the 2019-20 school year, and fall sports seasons are already winding down. At Basalt, one of those sports that’s been successful this year is cross country.
Coach Ron Lund sees the success in numbers. “We’ve had some good results. We have some incoming freshmen who’ve been real game-changers for our team this year. Our goal is to get to state, and we feel pretty confident that we’re going to get back after missing a couple years,” he said this week.
Basalt hosts this year’s regional meet at Crown Mountain Park in El Jebel on Friday, Oct. 18. The location is expected to favor the Longhorns for a team return to the state meet. A year ago this week, Aspen qualified as a team, while Basalt only sent one runner. Now that athlete has some help, which Lund hopes will make the difference.
“We have a real standout, Sierra Bower, who’s leading the way. This year, she has the complement of a really good team, so we have our sights set high,” Lund said.
As a sophomore last year, Bower won the regional meet held on the Aspen Golf Course, but was the Longhorns’ only state qualifier.
She’s had a stellar junior season, according to Lund, who said, “she won her first four races. She had a challenge from Battle Mountain’s top girl, who’s one of the best in 4A, so she had some good competition. That’s good for her. Sierra’s looking forward to hopefully getting back to state for the third time, and have a team with her, so we’ll see what we can do.”
Other runners joining Bower, and taking pressure off her, include Basalt’s two, three and four competitors, all of whom are freshmen.
Lund says√Katelyn Maley, Ava Lane and Sarah Levy are “close to each other, and they’re where we need them to be for our team to score strong. Of course with senior Lily Gillis in there, who ran 18th last year at regionals, if she’s your fifth girl, you know you’ve got a good team.”
Potential was obvious
Lund got an idea of where this team could go, when on what he says is the fastest course of Basalt’s schedule, the Pantherfest meet at Delta’s Confluence Park Oct. 4, Bower not only met his expectation of running under 18 minutes for the standard 5K distance, but burned past that goal to finish in 17:40.25, 11 seconds faster than last year’s winner of that event, Joslin Blair of Eagle Valley.
Sierra has gotten faster through the season, having won the home Longhorn Invitational at Crown Mountain in late August with a 19:21.6. Lund noted she’s also set records on several courses, including Eagle Valley, this season.
Of this week’s home regional that’ll send runners and teams on to the Oct. 26 state meet in Colorado Springs, Lund says, “It’s all about place. It’s fun to run fast times, but when we get to regionals, the watches go out the window. It’s where you place, and we need to place as many as we can as high as we can, because we’re going to have our hands full with a couple other schools in our region, mainly Aspen.”
Some of the Aspen Skiers’ top runners this year have included Kylie Kenny, who ran third by a couple minutes at the August Longhorn Invitational, plus Kendall Clark, Elsie Weiss and Eva McDonough. To illustrate the significance of place in cross-country, all four Aspen runners made the top 10 in that meet, winning it by a single point over the Longhorns, who had Bower winning with Maley and Levy also in the top seven.
Lund and the Longhorn harriers invite fans of the purple and gold to Crown Mountain for Friday’s regional, with the races expected to start at 11 a.m.
Basalt softball on the web
The other Longhorn team hosting regional competition this weekend, for the chance to go on to state, is the softball squad highlighted in these pages last week.
Basalt finished its regular season 21-1, tied for the most total 3A wins with Greeley’s University High. That’s earned the Longhorns the number two seed in the state as the post-season begins Saturday, and they’ll be hosting the region 2 playoff.
The 18th ranked Peak To Peak Pumas from Lafayette will play number 15 Lamar Savages, on Saturday, Oct. 19 ,at 10 a.m. on Basalt’s field.
The winner takes on the Longhorns just past noon, with the winner of that game going to Colorado Springs as the regional champion.
Hear how the Longhorns fare on Always Mountain Time’s www.coloradosportsnetwork.com which broadcasts their contest beginning at noon Saturday. Click the purple Longhorn logo for the call.