Running: Wagler’s win gives him an early start on senior cross country season
CHEATIN WOODCHUCK CHASE
Top 25 Individuals
1. Brendan Wagler, 27:10; 2. Josh Hejtmanek, 27:43; 3. John Coombs, 29:00; 4. Zach Robinson, 29:54; 5. Candelario DeLuera, 32:00; 6. Eddie Murray, 32:02; 7. Colby Rennie, 33:11; 8. Alex Tapia, 34:03; 9. Brad Palmer, 34:12; 10. Kelly Coombs*, 35:10; 11. Jeff Crow, 37:58; 12. Jesus Chavez, 38:06; 13. Chuck Mattson, 38:53; 14. Kelly Sarno*, 38:59; 15. Daniel LeMoine, 39:07; 16. Jeanie Grooms*, 39:14; 17. Carrie Rousseau*, 39:48; 18. Johnny Utah, 39:56; 19. Tyler Cronkite, 39:59; 20. Eileen Wysocki*, 40:08; 21. Lisa Jones*, 41:21; 22. Kim Potter*, 41:33; 23. Laura Bahr*, 42:57; 24. Erin Alfstad*, 43:12; 25. Ian Robinson, 43:57.
* — denotes female.
RIFLE — Following a bumpy bus ride to the starting line at the top of Rifle Mountain Park, and a moment of silence and reflection for fellow runner and friend Bob Willey, who passed away on Thursday morning after his bout with cancer, runners ambled on a scenic, downhill glide, 5 miles away to the finish line at the Rifle State Fish Hatchery.
The race is the 23rd annual Cheatin’ Woodchuck Chase.The picturesque course, which is run among towering pines and sprawling rock formations, serves as the sixth and final stop on the Colorado River Charity Race Series.
The blue-sky day belonged to a young man who will be wearing the blue and gold of the Rifle Bears when fall cross country running season opens in a few short weeks.
Senior-to-be Brendan Wagler, who has been logging some lengthy miles since the end of June in preparation for the upcoming season, came into Saturday’s race fit and ready to go fast.
“I’ve been training pretty hard for the season. I just wanted to see how fast I could go today, and I ended up averaging under 5:30 miles the entire way,” said Wagler, who qualified for the state cross country meet in 2013. “I was always keeping an eye on Josh though, he was about 30 or 40 yards behind me.”
Wagler’s winning time was a blistering 27 minutes, 10 seconds. The pursuer Wagler was speaking of is Josh Hejtmanek, who has dominated most area races in 2014. On this day, he wasn’t quite able to chase down his younger counterpart.
“Youth prevails again,” said a smiling Hejtmanek, whose other losses in the series came to 13-year-old Tyler Scholl in the Hogback Hustle 5K and the Grand River Gallop in Rifle in March.
“Today was a little bittersweet for me for a couple of reasons,” the second-place finisher from New Castle continued. “Everyone here misses Bob, and it’s the end of the race series. The main reason I come is because of these people. I really enjoy seeing them.”
Third place overall with a time of 29:00 was Rifle resident John Coombs.
On the ladies side of the competition, another Rifle Bear kept the school colors flying proudly as Kelly Coombs ran to the finish line first with a nice time of 35:10.
As is the case with Wagler, Coombs will be a senior runner for the Bears and she too, is anxious for the start of fall practice.
“I’m working on qualifying for state this season. I felt good out there. It did seem like a long race since I ran by myself most of the way. I just wanted to get a feel as to what kind of physical condition I’m in,” Coombs said.
Second in the women’s bracket was Glenwood’s Kelly Sarno with a time of 38:59. Sarno was followed by Jeanie Grooms of Grand Junction, who finished in 39:14.
The creator of the CRVCRS is assistant Rifle Recreation Director Wayne Edgeton. He also serves as the race guru for the Woodchuck Chase, which is a benefit for the Sunlight Winter Sports Bus.
Edgeton, following the race’s conclusion, was thrilled to report that close to $11,000 will be donated to charities this year through the CRVCRS.
“I enjoy seeing people get out and do things,” said Edgeton, who is thinking about putting together more local races for next year. “We don’t have a lot of longer races in the area. They’re mostly 5K’s. We might add some longer events next year.”
The Woodchuck Chase 5-miler and its shorter 2.3 mile fun race, which is primarily for walkers, drew 65 participants.
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The Glenwood Springs-Rifle sports rivalry goes way back for GSHS baseball coach and former Demons multi-sport student-athlete Eric Nieslanik.