Coal Ridge takes top honors at Rifle Invitational
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
RIFLE, Colorado ” Just moments after winning Thursday’s Rifle Invitational cross-country meet, Coal Ridge’s DaLin Murphy turned his attention to teammates still out on the course.
“Come on, Joseph! We can place!” he shouted to a teammate. “Come on, Joseph!”
Murphy’s teammates must have taken his words to heart. Behind the senior’s 17 minute, 54 second run on a twisty course that wove through Rifle’s Deerfield Park, a baseball/softball complex, the Titans finished first among eight boys teams at the rare weekday meet.
Fellow Titan Kody Roper ran to ninth (19:05) and Murphy’s brother, DaNivin, took 10th (19:14) to pad the score in Coal Ridge’s favor.
Given the choice, DaLin said he’d always take a high team finish over a high individual finish.
“It’s really big,” he said. “Last year, we barely had enough for a team and this year is the first year we’ve had a whole team. This is the first year we could go to state as a team.”
Murphy held off Rifle’s own Dustin Ross to win the race, calling on his reserves down the stretch to pull away from the Bear junior.
“He had guts and I didn’t,” a self-reflective Ross said. “Let’s just say that.”
Ross, who clocked in at 17:59, finished ahead of Basalt’s Tyler Wilson (18:09) and Conner Roper (18:22). Grand Valley’s Austin Germiller was fifth (18:29) and the Cards’ Sam Whelan eighth (18:55) on the 3.1-mile course.
Other locals running in the top 20 included Coal Ridge’s Larry Fullenwider (11th, 19:19) and John Tinker (16th, 20:20) and Rifle’s Larry Schmueser (12th, 19:23), Evan McNair (17th, 20:25) and Andrew Proebstle (18th, 20:39).
Rifle finished third in the team standings behind Coal Ridge and second-place Basalt.
Krieg second, Keeper third in girls race
Holly Keeper has her eye firmly focused on a trip to state, which she’ll be gunning for slightly more than a week from now at the 4A Region 5 meet in Delta.
With another in a series of solid performances on Thursday, the senior appears en route to do just that.
Keeper, who timed in at 21:29, finished behind only winner Chiara Del Piccolo (19:56) from Basalt and Grand Valley’s Brandi Krieg (21:18) in the girls race. She ran alongside Krieg, who rushed off to volleyball practice immediately after the race, much of the way.
“I tried to keep up with them,” she said. “It felt good. I felt like I worked hard, but there’s always room to improve.”
Keeper’s got until the Oct. 18 regional meet to work out any kinks. That’s when she’ll be looking to punch her first-ever ticket to the state meet.
“I still need to work on my form,” she said, “and my stride. I just have to stay focused. It’s the end of the year and I can’t get burned out. I’m going for it this time. I’m a senior. It’s my last chance.”
Coal Ridge’s Chelyn McCain finished right behind Ross (21:35) in fourth. Grand Valley’s Eryn Paskett was sixth (23:48), while Rifle’s Amanda Stevens finished eighth (24:33).
Glenwood Springs had its junior varsity squad at the meet, and the Demons finished atop the girls team standings.
Individually, Taylor Goodstein (24:53) and Josi Pearson (25:18) took ninth and 10th, respectively. Fellow Glenwood runners Rachel Sobke (11th, 25:26), Savanna Pearson (12th, 25:31) and Kerry Kellogg (13th, 25:34) followed.
Others locals finishing in the top 20 included Grand Valley’s TLC Whiteley (16th, 26:04), Rifle’s Tani Jorgensen (17th, 26:20) and Coal Ridge’s Erika Anderson (20th, 26:50).
Grand Valley placed third in the team standings behind Glenwood and second-place Palisade.
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Down 14-7 with less than 11 minutes left in regulation, Rifle head coach Todd Casebier decided it was time to deviate from his ground-and-pound offense for a bit of an aerial attack.