Demons, Bears excel at cross country meet in El Jebel |

Demons, Bears excel at cross country meet in El Jebel

Glenwood Springs freshman Claudia Hirons crosses the finish line to win the girls race in the annual Longhorn Invitational cross country meet at Crown Mountain Park in El Jebel.
Dale Strode/The Aspen Times |

EL JEBEL — Second place isn’t too bad. First place is just a little better.

High School cross country teams from Garfield County got a taste of both on Saturday.

Both the girls and boys cross country teams at Glenwood Springs High School earned second-place finishes in the team standings at the Longhorn Invitational meet. To top it off, Glenwood Springs freshman Claudia Hirons was the top runner in the girls race, and Rifle senior Brenden Wagler managed a second-place finish in the event that took place at Crown Mountain Park.

The victory for Hirons, who managed a 16th-place finish in the Cheyenne Mountain Stampede last month in Colorado Springs, was her first as a high school runner.

“This was a lot better than I thought it would be,” Hirons said. “We started off all three girls together. Then, I noticed that they were slowing down a little bit, so I went ahead.”

And finished ahead.

Hirons crossed the line in 20 minutes, 43 seconds. Lauren Cook of Montrose was second and Kelly Coombs of Rifle finished third.

“I just had to try to keep a good pace,” said Hirons, the daughter of Bobby and Cheryl Hirons.

Hirons helped the Demons finish second in the girls team standings with 63 points. Montrose won with 38.

“I don’t think we’ve had girl go under 21 minutes in a long time,” Glenwood Springs coach Mike Schneider said. “I’ll have to look that up.”

Hotchkiss was third in the girls division with 91 points. Rifle was fourth (106).

In the boys race, the Montrose boys totaled 51 for the low score and the division title. Glenwood Springs was second with 102 and Coal Ridge was third (112), with Hotchkiss fourth (145-tiebreaker) and Basalt fifth (145).

Montrose also had the top boys finisher in Ian Meek in the boys 5-kilometer race, reinforcing his standing as one of the premier Class 4A runners in Colorado.

Meek, who won the race in 16:29, wasn’t too far ahead of Wagler, who finished second in 16:40. The two had posted the two fastest Class 4A cross country times thus far this season heading into Saturday, with both setting the standard with their sub 16-minute times at the Delta Invitational on Aug. 29.

Basalt’s Zach Walsh, a leader in the 3A division, was third in 17:06 and first among 3A runners.

“It was a fun race,” Walsh said. “I took it out a lot faster in Delta, but my legs weren’t going to let me stick with them this time.”

Glenwood is off until Friday when the Demons run at the Heritage Invitational. Coal Ridge and Grand Valley will go to the Eagle Valley Invitational on Sept. 13, and Rifle will go to the Gunnison Invitational, which also takes place on Sept. 13.

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