Buck boys win Pagosa Springs Challenge, girls get second place
by Haley Burton
The bus transporting the Monticello High School cross country team left dark and early at 5:30 a.m. on Saturday, September 23 on its way to Pagosa Springs, CO in plenty of time for a day of racing.
The Pagosa Springs Challenge, hosted by the Pirates, is located in the ponderosa mountainous hills just above the famous Pagosa hot springs. Stepping up to the starting line there was cool fall air, the smell of sulfur from the hot springs, and race day anticipation.
The course is comprised of two loops entirely on dirt trails. The 3.2 mile dirt trail course is part of a frisbee golf course situated on Reservoir Hill.
There is a section of switchbacks that, according to MHS runner Lilli Burton, “came straight from the devil himself.” The hilly course weaves in and out of pondarosa pines and up and down rocky hillsides.
The rough terrain tends to produce slower times compared to some of the more flat courses run by the Buckaroos during the season.
Still the Monticello athletes had an impressive race with the boys teams bringing home another first-place team finish and the girls snagging second place for the team.
Jesse Pettit ran a competitive time of 19:59 securing third place overall. Kaden Pehrson and Kooper Nielson completed the course 12 seconds apart at 20:36 and 20:48, placing Pehrson in eighth and Nielson 11th.
Soren Welch crossed the finish line in 21:33 for 19th place and Curtis Bunker was 22nd in 21:46. Their separation of only 13 seconds once again displayed their strength in the consistency of running close together.
Marah Long held the lead for the duration of the girls race and managed to take the win with a time of 22:22 – an outstanding 42 seconds ahead of the second-place runner.
Duo Lilli Burton and Ayla Carling finished fifth and sixth with times of 23:30 and 23:37. Alexis Bailey scored the 25th spot in the race with a time of 27:24. Newcomer, senior Kahryme Alvarado, finished 42nd, helping to secure the second-place trophy for the Lady Buckaroos.
The Monticello harriers have a packed schedule with two races this week. They’ll run in the hot desert sun at the Moab Golf Course at the Red Rock Invitational on Wednesday, September 27.
Saturday, September 30 they head for cooler weather as the Mancos, CO Bluejays host the annual Chicken Creek Challenge in the San Juan National Forest.