Rifle loaded with cross country talent | PostIndependent.com

Rifle loaded with cross country talent

Jeff Caspersen
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

In his previous three years as Rifle’s cross country coach, Jerry Shafer’s never had a boys team as talented as the one he’ll trot out in 2009.

“Realistically, it could be the first time Rifle sends a full team to state,” Shafer said. “That’s one of our goals. We’ve got to stay working hard every day.”

Three of the reasons he’s so amped up about the squad’s prospects: Dustin Ross, Ryan Davis and Geo Mendez.

Ross, who put in a lot of miles over the summer, posts the top times of the trio, and Shafer considers him one of the best runners around.

“He’s one of the best runners on the Western Slope,” the fourth-year coach lauded. “He’s done a lot of 5Ks [this summer]. He’s had some really good 5K times already this year.”

Adolfo Ruiz, Humberto Guerrero, Evan McNair and Larry Schmueser should also figure big into how Rifle fares at various meets.

As for the Bear girls, Ashley Church, Ashton Wilcox and Tani Jorgensen should step up to lead the way.

“It should be a fun season,” Shafer said. “As long as we stay healthy, I can’t see why we can’t compete.”

Success and Glenwood Springs cross country have gone hand in hand in recent years.

The girls team has made state as a group each of the past five seasons. Both Ryan Buchanan and Kellen Fockler, who has since graduated, represented the boys team at state last fall.

With a record number of runners out for the team, the success should continue in 2009.

“We have over 40 kids,” fourth-year coach Michael Schneiter relayed. “That’s really cool since the old record was 31 kids.”

That includes Buchanan and a boys team that has the horses to make some noise.

Besides Buchanan, sophomore Andrew Mansfield, junior Jared Peltzman and seniors Garrett Brown and Emilio Alcala are names to watch.

As for the girls, Angie Shepard’s back for her fourth year of cross country. Freshman Lily Thorsen’s been strong in the early going, as has junior Hope Whitman and senior Sarah Treese.

Treese, a senior in her first year of cross country, has caught the attention of Schneiter.

“She’s looking like one of our strongest girls,” he said.

Schneiter expects a strong season across the board.

“You know, it’s really cool,” he began. “We run two-mile time trials at the start of the season and at the end. I was comparing the times from this year’s time trial to last year’s, to see where we were at with fitness. Everybody’s time was faster.”

With a state qualifier and two runners who oh-so-narrowly missed out on a trip to state returning, Grand Valley coach Kim Whelan can’t help but be optimistic as she readies for the 2009 season.

Distance dynamo Brandi Krieg is back for a junior campaign after making the 3A girls state meet last year. She also has a pair of track state appearances under belt.

Also returning are junior Eryn Paskett on the girls side and senior Sam Whelan on the boys side. Each fell two spots shy of joining Krieg in Fort Collins last fall.

Coach Whelan thinks both are capable of breaking through and making it this time around.

“I have good hopes for the three of them,” she said. “Our region is so competitive that it was really tough for them to get to state. If Eryn and Sam had made it to state, they would have finished in the top third. They just didn’t get there.”

Fourth-year coach Tiffany Robison is back to lead Coal Ridge’s cross country team in 2009.

Then-junior Chelyn McCain and DaLin Murphy, who has since graduated, represented the Titans at last year’s state meet.


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