The Telluride High School and Middle School cross country teams joined 10 other Colorado teams, including Ouray, Montrose, Olathe, Central, Crested Butte, Delta, Gunnison, Cheyenne Mountain, DeBeque, and Grand Junction, in Ridgway for the event.
While Telluride didn’t have enough runners to post a team rank, cross country coach Keith Hampton reported that individually each athlete ran a superb race.
“The Telluride runners competed very well, placing high in every race,” Hampton said. “We are now at the midway point of the season and the athletes are starting to rise to their potential.”
Runners needed to be on top of their game to maneuver the difficult course in Ridgway, which predominately followed hiking trails around the reservoir and included a major climb to the top of the mesa and a “crazy” downhill through the trees, which Hampton said saw its fair share of crashes. Telluride’s racers fared well despite the course’s difficulty, with sophomore Colton Rogers catapulting to the front of the 2A boys’ pack with a time of 21:40. Last year Rogers established himself as one of the top freshman runners in the region.
Ouray’s Kyle Schoenebaum (20:48) was the only other 2A school runner to finish ahead of Rogers, with the overall boys’ winning time of 19:02 secured by a runner from Cheyenne Mountain, a top three-ranked 5A school in Colorado Springs.
“Colton was passing people right up to the end. As he gets more experienced with the races, I expect him to really become a major factor on the state level,” Hampton said.
After missing last week’s meet due to illness, freshman Ty Williams came back to run a strong race at Ridgway, finishing 26th with a time of 22:22.
Sophomore Ali Tassone, competing in only her third-ever cross country race, improved upon her earlier season times with her 29:19 finish in Ridgway. “Because the course was mostly made up of tight single track running, it was very important that the athletes get out to the front in the first quarter-mile of the race. Ali ran a very gutsy start to put herself with the top runners at the turn onto the single track,” Hampton said.
Also showing spirit was senior Erin Thompson, who finished 39th with a time of 31:58. Aggressive running over the last half-mile of the race, in which she passed at least six runners including a strong Grand Junction rival at the finish line, showed that this new cross country competitor is building up stamina for some of the tougher races to come. “I think she can start to get more aggressive in the first mile as she gains experience,” said Hampton.
Senior Tarja Berry did not run due to injury, but is expected to race next weekend in Mancos.
On the middle school front, Telluride again showed that they are one of the best in the West. According to Hampton, the Telluride runners followed the race plan and got out fast. “This really helped them when they reached the first big hill just before the one-mile mark,” he said. Sage Marshall (seventh grade) finished in fifth place among the boys with a time of 15:59. Malcolm Major (seventh grade), competing in his first cross country race, finished 13th in 16:55. Bridger Johnson (eighth grade) was 50th in 20:05.
On the girls’ side, Telluride’s lone entry was Rachel Hampton (eighth grade). She finished in a very strong sixth place among the girls with a time of 17:20.
Telluride’s next meet will be in Mancos on Saturday.