Edwards no stranger to the big stage

Bayfield High School junior Eva-Lou Edwards will lead a band of Wolverines into the CHSAA Class 3A Cross Country State Championships on Saturday in Colorado Springs. Edwards is a favorite in the girls field, while sophomore Caleb Sapa, senior Jonathan Rudolph, sophomore Luke Webb, seniors Joey Webb and Joe Hetrick, and sophomores Trevor Gabbard and John Fisher will compete for a boys title. Enlarge photo

Steve Lewis/Durango Herald

Bayfield High School junior Eva-Lou Edwards will lead a band of Wolverines into the CHSAA Class 3A Cross Country State Championships on Saturday in Colorado Springs. Edwards is a favorite in the girls field, while sophomore Caleb Sapa, senior Jonathan Rudolph, sophomore Luke Webb, seniors Joey Webb and Joe Hetrick, and sophomores Trevor Gabbard and John Fisher will compete for a boys title.

One more time.

Eva-Lou Edwards and the Bayfield High School cross country team are preparing for one more run.

Edwards, who won the regional championship at Delta last weekend, will take her undefeated season to the CHSAA Class 3A Cross Country State Championships on Saturday in Colorado Springs.

The Bayfield boys cross country team, a balanced bunch from start to finish, also won a regional title last week and earned a team trip to the Norris Penrose Event Center for the state finals.

“The kids are prepared. They’re ready for Saturday,” Bayfield head coach Pat Vaughn said after a light workout Wednesday.

“Eva-Lou is intensely competitive and obviously very talented,” Vaughn said of the BHS junior who has met every racing challenge this season.

Edwards won the season-opening Pre-State Invitational and never looked back. Along the way she won titles at the Joe Vigil Invitational in Alamosa, the Southwest Cross Country Challenge in Durango and regionals, among others.

“She goes by feel during a race,” Vaughn said. “She’ll be nervous before the race like I want her to be.”

But he said Edwards has the rare ability to focus at a higher level before a cross country race – or a tennis match.

Edwards plays No. 1 singles for the Durango High School tennis team because the Wolverines don’t have a tennis program. Edwards, who has played in numerous national age-group tournaments, also has played in the CHSAA Class 4A Girls Tennis State Championships twice.

“I haven’t seen an athlete as focused as she is before a race,” Vaughn said. “At big events she is able to minimize the noise around her. She’s a hard-working young woman, and she wants to be successful.

“At the same time,” Vaughn said, “she is humble.”

To bolster her workouts, Vaughn said the Wolverines’ coaches opted to have Edwards train with the BHS boys.

“She had to work hard,” Vaughn said.

Bayfield also added bigger meets with tougher competition this year.

“We ran the bigger meets this year for a reason. You need that test continually to improve,” he said, citing the BHS boys as an example.

After just missing a trip to state last year, the BHS boys ensured their place at the state starting line by winning last week’s regional title at Confluence Park in Delta.

“We have a really good core of guys,” Vaughn said. “It’s basically the same group as last year except this year they are sophomores and seniors.”

Trevor Gabbard, a sophomore, led the way for the BHS boys with a sprint finish to win the 5-kilometer, 3.1-mile regional race.

“No. 1, Trevor was healthy all summer,” Vaughn said.

A year earlier, his summer training was obliterated by a broken ankle.

“The second thing is he gained confidence with each race,” Vaughn said.

Steady Luke Webb “improved dramatically,” according to his coach. Add Joey Webb, Joe Hetrick, Caleb Sapa and John Fisher and the Wolverines will test the depth of the 3A field.

They are scheduled to race at 10 a.m. Saturday. The Class 3A girls will start at noon.

“The boys know they ran fast. They know they won a regional championship,” Vaughn said. “And they are proud of that.”

The state meet will be a chance for them to show what they can do, Bayfield’s veteran head coach said.

In Class 3A, teams will enter six runners, with the top four scoring points toward the team total.

Edwards will run solo in the girls race, with her BHS teammates on hand to cheer her on at the state course, staged at an equestrian center.

The races Saturday will finish in the main rodeo arena at the Norris Penrose Event Center.

“Eva-Lou is the type of individual who puts everything into it, whether it’s tennis or her studies or cross country,” Vaughn said. “She is incredibly focused.”

Bayfield’s last individual state cross country championship came in 2005 when Steve Flint won the 3A boys race and led the BHS boys to the state team title.

Edwards will see if she can spark some of Flint’s magic.

dstrode@durangoherald.com

To bolster Eva-Lou Edwards’ workouts this year, Bayfield High School cross country coach Pat Vaughn said the Wolverines’ coaches opted to have Edwards train with the BHS boys. “She had to work hard,” said Vaughn, who gave the Wolverines a light workout Wednesday before Saturday’s state meet. Enlarge photo

Steve Lewis/Durango Herald

To bolster Eva-Lou Edwards’ workouts this year, Bayfield High School cross country coach Pat Vaughn said the Wolverines’ coaches opted to have Edwards train with the BHS boys. “She had to work hard,” said Vaughn, who gave the Wolverines a light workout Wednesday before Saturday’s state meet.

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