Acknowledging his own impressed condition regarding his boys’ performances in the 2019 season’s first two meets, Bayfield cross-country head coach Josh Walton also indirectly issued something of a challenge to his unquestioned front-runners at the schedule’s third stop.
“Elco and Jonas, they have future goals about going on and possibly running at the collegiate level,” Walton said Wednesday night, speaking of seniors Elco Garcia, Jr. and Jonas Nanaeto. “So, they would like to have ‘that time’ they can start advertising to get their names out there in the mix of recruits.
Walton said the two had good times at the season-opening Cheyenne Mountain Stampede, considered the state preview event, but he knows they can bring them down a little more. They’ll certainly have the chance to do so Saturday at the Adams State University/Alamosa High School-hosted Joe Vigil Open, competing for the first time on consistent golf-course grass rather than variable terrain of the routes about both the Norris-Penrose Event Center in Colorado Springs and last weekend at Colorado Mountain College in Leadville.
“It’ll be on a fast course at Cattails,” said Walton. “We’re obviously going against Alamosa and most of the IML, but we also have a powerhouse from our region, Gunnison, coming; we really want to see how we stack up against them. And then Durango will be there, Classical Academy, one of the top-ranked schools in the state in 3A, will be there, so it’s going to be a very competitive race.”
The high-school boys’ varsity 5K is set to go off at 9:20 a.m., with a cut-off of 27 minutes for all entrants, able to finish or not. With a time limit of 32 minutes, the varsity girls’ 5K is slated for a 10:25 start, and the Wolverines, though likely minus one regular, will look to continue earning their proverbial stripes.
“Paige Porter came up with an injury, and we’re hopeful she’ll make it back, but she’s kind of moving into our manager position for a little bit,” Walton said. “She’s really motivated, she wants to run, so that hurt a little.”
Freshman Abria Thayer was BHS’ leading lady at the Lake County Invite, placing 49th in 31:05.4, with sophomore Emaliah Sawyer 56th (32:50.7) and freshman Tatumn Millward 61st (35:35.6) trying to keep a fairly-tight pack which should gain an extra gear on the speedier San Luis Valley course.
“Abria has a lot of room to grow; I think she could be a very good runner in the future,” said Walton. “Emaliah is working hard in practice and could end up being one of our leaders, and then we have Tatumm only in her second year running, so she’slearning the whole process of running cross-country still.”
The boys will again battle for at least two quality finishes rounding out Bayfield’s scoring quintet at the Open.
Garcia was BHS’ best at the LCI, clocking a third-place 18:49.2, while junior Zeb Shields recorded an eyebrow-raising fourth-place 19:10.7 and Nanaeto a sixth-place 19:39.7. But in pressuring 4A schools Green Mountain and Longmont for the title (ultimately won by Green Mountain), the third-place Wolverines’ regular No. 4 and surprise No. 5, Rylan Ross and Royce Hinojosa, respectively, came in 32nd and 41st.
“Xander Hovenstine, Royce, Shane Moore, James Chenowith, I think it really depends on the day. We could have any combination of how they finish,” Walton said. “Four runners that are literally 30 seconds apart. ... It’s going to vary on the type of course and what they bring each day.
“Elco, Jonas and Zeb all ran really well this last weekend. And to come in that way against Longmont and Green Mountain was extremely impressive; we weren’t that far behind.”
Having most recently competed at the Aug. 29 Aztec Invitational, centered around the Tiger Sports Complex, Ignacio’s second-year girls’ XC crew, led by first-year boss Daniel Holley, will next see action at the Sept. 14 Bayfield Invitational.