Demons dominate Basalt XC meet, Aspen girls take second
The Aspen Times
1. Glenwood, 20
2. Rifle, 63
3. Basalt, 73
4. Coal Ridge, 94
5. Grand Valley, 119
1. Glenwood, 25
2. Aspen, 58
3. Soroco, 87
4. Basalt, 120
5. Rifle, 135
1. Henry Barth, Glenwood 16:14
2. Gavin Harden, Glenwood 16:45
3. Jonny Hernandez, Rifle 18:39
4. Will Berkheimer, Glenwood 18:44
5. Patrick Whitt, Rifle 18:59
1. Ella Johnson, Glenwood 19:33
2. Chloe Veilleux, Soroco 20:10
3. Sophia Vigil, Glenwood 21:08
4. Kendall Clark, Aspen 21:25
5. Kylie Kenny, Aspen 21:25
Aspen High School cross country coach Chris Keleher isn’t putting any pressure on his young squad, in particular standouts Kylie Kenny and Kendall Clark. It seems the two sophomores can handle that themselves.
“A lot of that is internal and just their own expectations. They like to compete,” Keleher said following Saturday’s season-opening meet. “The girls’ side was about what I expected, especially for early season. The girls ran well. They were really nervous. Coming off such a good season last year, I guess it was the self-imposed pressure.”
Nervous or not, the AHS girls put on a good showing by taking second as a team at the Longhorn Invitational, hosted by Basalt High School at Crown Mountain Park in El Jebel. Their 58 points were bested by only Glenwood Springs and its 25 points. Soroco was third in the girls’ race with 87 points, while Basalt was fourth with 120.
“The ones that ran today in the first meet, that extra week of practice obviously helped,” BHS coach and race organizer Ron Lund said. “I’m pleased with the way the kids ran and I’m pleased with the turnout and the way the meet ran.”
Basalt competed without what is expected to be its top two boys and girls. Sophia Moon was 10th in the girls’ race to lead the Longhorns, with teammate Lily Gillis coming in a spot back in 11th. Missing was standout sophomore Sierra Bower, the team’s lone returning state qualifier from a season ago. Bower, who finished 35th in Class 3A last fall, is recovering from a stress fracture in her foot.
“She is cleared to run, but we are not going to race her for a while,” Lund said. “We are going to be real conservative about bringing her back. Probably another couple two to three weeks before she races.”
Clark finished fourth and Kenny fifth for the Skiers, each coming in with a time of 21 minutes, 25 seconds. Sophomore teammates Macy Hopkinson (13th), Edie Sherlock (21st) and Maggie Woodrow (23rd) all had a solid showing as well for Aspen.
Aspen sent a full compliment of seven girls to the state meet a season ago, with five of them having been freshmen. Kenny turned in the best performance, taking 29th in her first state meet. Clark was 37th.
Winning the girls’ race on Saturday was Glenwood Springs freshman Ella Johnson in 19:33, while Soroco senior Chloe Veilleux, who won the 2A state championship as a sophomore (she was sixth as a junior), was second in 20:10. Glenwood’s Sophia Vigil was third in 21:08.
“She is definitely an experienced runner, but even so she kind of blew us away. We weren’t expecting her to run that fast, so a lot of potential for her this season. It’s going to be fun watching her,” second-year GSHS coach Justin Baum said of Johnson. “We are a young team, so it was really awesome to see them out there and do really well in their very first meet.”
DEMONS GO 1-2 IN BOYS’ RACE
While the young Glenwood girls’ team isn’t entering the season with much in the way of expectations, its boys are. Seniors Henry Barth (16:14) and Gavin Harden (16:45) easily finished first and second in Saturday’s race, paving the way for an easy team victory.
The GSHS boys scored 20 points for the meet win, followed by Rifle’s 63 and Basalt’s 73. Coal Ridge was fourth with 94.
“Gavin and Henry had a really good first race,” Baum said. “We just wanted them to go 1-2 and get a good effort in and they were able to do it. Really good time on a pretty tough course to start out the season.”
Rifle’s Jonny Hernandez was third in 18:39, with another Glenwood runner — Will Berkheimer — coming in fourth. Glenwood had five of the top seven finishers in the boys’ race. Basalt’s Leighton Albright was ninth in 19:18 to lead his team, while Tucker Bruce was 11th and Noah Allen was 14th.
Basalt raced without William Luckett, who is expected to be its top runner. He is recovering from a knee injury. Aspen also missed a couple of key names, including top returner Everett Olson, who was already away because of experiential education. Freshman Brenon Reed, who Keleher is excited about, led the Skier boys by taking 15th.
Basalt won’t race again until Sept. 8 when it competes in the Liberty Bell Invitational on the Front Range. AHS plans to race again Saturday at Battle Mountain, although without a handful of athletes because of Ex-Ed.
With so much state experience returning on the girls’ side, Aspen certainly has the makings of a strong team this fall. Key to that success could be them getting to host their Class 3A regional meet this season, scheduled for Oct. 19 at the Aspen Golf Club. Teams alphabetically rotate hosting the regional meet each fall, meaning it can be a decade-plus between opportunities.
“You just don’t have to travel. You are sleeping in your own bed,” Keleher said of getting to host regionals. “You know the course. You get more fans. It’s going to be exciting, especially for the valley. I think it’s going to be fun.”
Keleher said the team hasn’t competed on the golf course since it last hosted regionals, which was before some of the current team members could walk.
“I took the kids out on it last year at the end of the season just to show them,” he said. “It’s a good course. It’s very fair. It’s very wide open. It’s very easy to pass and move up.”
The Skiers also host its annual Chris Severy Invitational Oct. 6 on the AHS campus.
Basalt, which will host the 3A regional meet next year, also likes the idea of being close to home for regionals. Despite the loss of graduate Carly Robinson, their only other state qualifier a season ago, and Bower’s lingering injury, the Longhorns have hopes of getting a few of the girls back to state.
“We’ve got some real talent on that, we just need to keep everybody healthy and have it come together,” Lund said. “We like the idea of having regionals be in our backyard up in Aspen. I think that’ll help a little bit, too.”
Glenwood’s 4A regional, which is considered one of the toughest in the classification, will be hosted by Battle Mountain this fall.