New rankings were released on Tuesday, signaling Telluride’s dominance over class 2A schools statewide in both the boys and girls divisions. The boys’ team is holding steady at first place, while the girls are sitting pretty in second.
Telluride-Norwood Cross Country Coach Keith Hampton was heartened by his team’s positioning on the recently-released rankings list, considering the adversity its members have faced in recent weeks.
“It’s been an up-and-down season to some degree, with a lot of kids getting sick and missing meets because of it,” Hampton said, explaining that the team hasn’t run its full roster at a competition since Sept. 10. Last weekend marked the most complete the team has been since the early season, with all but its top male runner, Ty Williams, stepping up to the starting line. Last weekend’s Chris Severy Aspen Invitational found the boys team taking fourth and the girls team coming in fifth.
Both teams boast super strong frontrunners, which have helped anchor the team throughout the season. Norwood High School’s Ty Williams is a perennial favorite for the state title in both track and cross country, and is currently ranked first overall among 2A runners in Colorado. In fact, his personal best time of 15:34 places him second overall among all high school runners in the state.
On the girls’ side, THS junior Rachel Hampton is responsible for shoring up the Telluride-Norwood team. Hampton’s personal record time of 18:37 puts her as the top female runner among 2A schools in Colorado, and 18th overall among all schools in the state. Out of the six meets she’s attended this year, Hampton has won four of them and was runner-up in the rest.
While the team has surely benefited from the strengths of its leaders, Telluride-Norwood cross country can stand on its own regardless of its top two athletes’ performances, thanks to a strong foundation built by the remaining teammembers.
“The other kids have really been improving, and with Ty out for the last few weeks, that has really forced the other boys to step up – which has been a good thing,” Hampton said, pointing to the team’s fourth-place finish last weekend, in which boys team runners Nathan Loomis and Dylan Newell were the 11th and 13th to cross the finish line, respectively. In the state rankings, Newell is seventh among 2A and Loomis tenth, based on their personal best times.
Sophomore Brooks Rodgers has also stepped up to the starting line with tenacity in 2011, helping establish what Coach Hampton calls “a very deep” boys bench.
The girls have also enjoyed all-around muscle this fall thanks to the talents of Jo Bush, currently ranked fourth-fastest female 2A runner in Colorado. Hampton and Bush anchored the team at last weekend’s competition, with Hampton finishing second and Bush coming in just one minute later to take sixth.
“We could definitely surprise some people” in upcoming meets with the strength of the girls squad, Hampton said, noting that other runners Katherine Bush, Shelby Brier and Jesse Hild have all improved their finishes this season.
The team has now set its sights on the post-season, with the Regionals competition slated for Wednesday, Oct. 19 in Delta. To make the trip to the State cross country meet at the end of the month, the team’s runners must first earn top rankings at the Regionals event, which will also host such 2A luminaries as the Crested Butte boys’ team (ranked second in the state behind Telluride.)
“The boys are in a good position for sure, but will definitely face some very tough competition from Crested Butte,” Hampton said, explaining that while the girls squad shouldn’t face too much of a challenge at Regionals, they will likely have to contend with the ultra-strong, first place-ranked Nederland girls team if they make it to State – which, they should, Hampton said. “The girls are also in a good position to really put the pressure on. It’s going to be pretty interesting.”