Battle Mountain harriers sweep at home meet
BEAVER CREEK - Theoretically, Saturday’s Battle Mountain Invitational was a cross-country race, but it was really more of a Darwinian exercise.
At 8,000 feet and higher, this 5K is a lung-buster and the times are never pretty. But the host Huskies were very much in their element winning both the girls’ and boys’ races,
“For all intents and purposes, this is a trail run,” Huskies coach Rob Parish. “This is a strength builder. You aren’t going to see screaming-fast times.”
Eagle Valley’s Joslin Blair was screaming fast enough, winning the girls’ individual title. And then came a flood of Huskies’ black and gold.
Battle Mountain’s ladies went, 3-4-5-6-8. That’s Lizzy Harding, Alex Raichart, Liz Constien, Kaela Fahrney and Bella Rubis. One does not have to be a heavy duty mathematician to figure out that the Huskies ran away from the field with just 27 points, easily outpacing both Steamboat Springs and Eagle Valley at 72.
The bigger plotline for Battle Mountain is how to handle the season after Naomi Harding’s unfortunate cycling accident two weeks ago, which hads her out indefinitely.
Lizzy Harding, Raichart, Constien and Fahrney are doing the voo-doo that they do so well, but there’s the issue of trying to run down Air Academy in October.
Saturday was Rubis’ audition, and she did well.
“She did fantastic in her first varsity race,” Parish said. “We knew she had a lot of potential. We’re still reeling a bit from missing Naomi, but it looks like Bella fits in.”
So does Megan Bamford. She finished 11th and didn’t score for the Huskies. That’s a good thing. To topple Air Academy, you need a lot of depth, and, so the more the merrier. (If it appears that Air Academy is on the Huskies’ collective brain, well, the Kadets are. They are the defending state champs and Battle Mountain wants to knock them off the top step.)
Reilly to the rescue
Yes, Battle Mountain’s Franklin Reilly was terrific, leading the Huskies with a third-place finish, followed by Nate Badger, James Moran and Ty Willoughby. But you need five out of your varsity seven in a regular-season race, and Patrick Johnson and Dough McMurrain had off days on Saturday.
It happens to the best, so David Reilly was the hero for the Huskies, punching in at 25th as the fifth scorer.
That helped the Huskies (55 points) top Mead (67) and Eagle Valley (76).
For Battle Mountain, it’s nice to win the home meet. The Huskies aren’t giving back the trophy, but the JV squads are providing some very nice competition. Both developmental teams won their meets going 1-2-3-4-6. Parish said that Nick Williams and Grace Johnson, among others, are going to get a look on the varsity level after Saturday.
There’s also Battle Mountain’s rule that freshmen, no matter how fast they are, run JV for the first two races of the season. Expect much lineup juggling as the season progresses.
Blair shines for Devils
This brings up an interesting hypothetical. What if Eagle Valley had Battle Mountain’s freshmen rule?
That would kind of be a bad idea as Blair continued to impress. The freshman won on Saturday with a time of 22:30. She was also third at last week’s pre-state meet, and, going into this weekend’s races, has posted the second-fastest time of any freshman in the state, regardless of classification.
No JV for her, apparently.
“Her mom’s been running our middle-school program and been a part of Eagle Valley track through WECMRD,” Devils coach Melinda Brandt said. “We’ve been excited to have coming up for quite a while. She’s a hard-working kid. She ran the most miles during the summer of anyone one on our girls team. She’s put in the time.”
And Blair apparently isn’t intimidated by varsity competition.
Both of Eagle Valley’s teams finished third. (On the boys’ side, Steamboat and Eagle Valley finished with 72 points, but the Sailors won the tiebreaker.)
Eagle Valley heads to Grand Junction on Friday, while the Huskies are at St. Vrain on Saturday.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and ’@cfreud.