Steve Lewis/Durango Herald file photo
Area high school cross country runners will take their final steps toward the state championships this afternoon at the annual CHSAA Regional Championships in Delta.
The Bayfield and Durango cross country teams will line up at Confluence Park in Delta for the state-qualifying races.
Bayfield will compete in the Class 3A races; Durango will race in the Class 4A competition.
“We’re as healthy as we can be at this point,” Bayfield cross country coach Pat Vaughn said.
The Bayfield boys will race at 2:30 p.m. today. The BHS girls will race in the 3A regional at 3 p.m.
“We’re primed. We’ve had some fantastic workouts. ... I think we’re ready,” Durango cross country coach David McMillan said.
The DHS boys are scheduled to start at 3:30 p.m. today. The DHS girls will conclude today’s races at Delta with a 4 p.m. start time.
The top five teams from each regional race will qualify for the CHSAA Cross Country State Championships on Oct. 27 in Colorado Springs.
“Our kids should be really comfortable (at Delta),” Vaughn said of the Wolverines. “We’ve raced there before. They like the course. It’s flat and pretty fast.”
Eva-Lou Edwards will lead the Wolverines as she chases her sixth consecutive victory of the season and seventh overall. She won the Pre-State Invitational, and she also won the Southwest Cross Country Challenge in Durango earlier this season.
“Last year, our guys missed going to state by one spot,” Vaughn said. “I’d really like to see both teams qualify this year.
Likewise for McMillan and the Demons.
“We are ready physically, ready emotionally,” McMillan said. “They raced there last year; they know the course.”
The Demons will be led by Joe and Shannon Maloney, both of whom have recorded some of the top times in the state this season.
McMillan said the Demons will face some stern challenges from the 4A field of Battle Mountain (Vail), Delta, Eagle Valley, Glenwood Springs, Montezuma-Ciortez, Montrose, Palisade, Rifle, Steamboat Springs and Summit.
Bayfield’s competition is Aspen, Basalt, Centauri, Coal Ridge, Grand Valley, Gunnison, Lake County (Leadville), Middle Park (Granby), Moffat County (Craig), Monte Vista, Olathe and Pagosa Springs.
McMillan said the Demons will take their entire squad to Delta, including the junior varsity runners,
“They’re all part of our team, and we’re taking them (to Delta),” said McMillan, who added the Durango JV team closed its racing season at the Backcountry Experience Chili 5K last weekend. The race helped raise money for the Durango cross country team.
River Weiss led the DHS JV runners with a third-overall finish in the 5K, running the 3.2 miles in 22 minutes, 22 seconds. .
Madeigh Winsor, a DHS state qualifier in cross country and track, returned from a fractured ankle and won the girls race in 27:02. She finished 19th overall.
For the DHS boys, Keenan Skelly was fourth, Parker Norvell seventh, Ande Lloyd eighth, Zach Mickelson ninth, Dillon Anthony 10th and Tom Pannell 11th.
Hope Hay was second for the DHS girls in 23rd overall. Alle McKown was third for the Demons. Also competing were Shi Thompson, Rachel Rossi, Sydney McMunn, Raquel Hyatt and Bella Bussian.
Other DHS runners who competed: Parker Buccowich, Isaac Ducker, Johnathan Middleton, Kohler McInnis, Jordan Helms, Edgar Arias, Kai Meyer and Josh Thompson.
DHS assistant coach Parker Mildenhall won the men’s 5K last weekend in 20:13.
“I am very proud of the way the varsity runners supported the JV team, running stride-by-stride along the entire course with the JV athletes,” McMillan said. “It was a true testament to the strength of this team.”
The Demons are ready to test that strength in Delta.