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Bobcat boys finish 1-2 at home meet

Burcham, Martin pace Ignacio into second
Ignacio freshman Cayson Burcham descends the final hill before the finish line Friday during the IHS-hosted 2023 Ignatius Invitational. Burcham won the high school boys race, held at Jack-a-lope Acres off La Plata County Road 318. (Joel Priest/Special to the Herald)

Taking advantage of somewhat cooler conditions due to overcast skies on Friday morning, Ignacio’s Cayson Burcham and James Martin began pulling away from the boys’ pack relatively quickly during the opening mile, and were ultimately first across the finish line in placing 1-2 at IHS’ 2023 Ignatius Invitational.

No small feat, considering the rocky nature of the course at Jack-a-lope Acres, southwest of town off La Plata County Road 318, and the fact that to most runners – perhaps even some of the Bobcats – the layout was very much unknown.

“Me and James have run it together a couple of times, so we had a little experience with it,” said the freshman Burcham, who clocked a winning time of 19 minutes, 29.95 seconds. “We would run the first mile, and then the second we’d kind of split up and try to get our paces. And then the third … was just giving it the rest we had!”

“There were just a ton of hills … which kind of killed me – I think there’s six or seven,” he noted. “And then all the distance too … it was pretty tough.”

“It was a pretty great feeling,” said Martin (19:51.05), a sophomore, of knowing the only runner ahead of him wore a matching uniform. “Don’t get to feel that often because we usually go to bigger meets, but it was very nice. It was very hilly, so … I’m grateful the sun wasn’t out.”

“They’ve been training hard all summer, putting in the time and it showed out here today,” said IHS head coach Karri McCarter. “I’m very impressed with both of them.”

Rounding out the top five were Pagosa Springs senior Miles Baker (19:51.30), Telluride junior Sean McKillop (20:04.11) and PSHS senior Levi Hinger (20:57.41). Sophomore Trace Crane was Ignacio’s third finisher, placing 11th overall in 21:40.23, and freshman Judah Ashley took 15th in 21:55.35.

Senior Phillip Quintana (22:29.14) came in 17th, freshman Thunder Windy Boy (22:41.26) 19th, sophomore Dillon Brann (22:54.75) 20th, and recently-added sophomore Greg Walker (26:04.15) 26th.

Ignacio sophomore Alyssa Atencio runs during the IHS-hosted Ignatius Invitational's high school girls race on Friday. The event was held at Jack-a-lope Acres off La Plata County Road 318. (Joel Priest/Special to the Herald)

The Ignacio girls got a 14th-place time of 30:56.03 from senior Lauren deKay, plus a 19th-place 35:44.67 from sophomore Alyssa Atencio in her high school cross-country debut.

“The third mile is the hardest, but you’re almost done anyways. And it was cool this morning; I liked that,” deKay said. “And I’m really happy we have Alyssa. The first race you finish, it’s pretty tough because you’ve never run that far, that fast before. But she did great.”

“She’s our basketball star, coming out to get in shape for her season, and she ran super-hard. I couldn’t ask for anything more from her … and all the effort she puts in,” McCarter said. “Lauren actually rolled her ankle out on the course, so to still finish? I’m really impressed. I’m just really proud of my girls.”

“Before I got hurt it was really great, actually; the first two miles were going to be good,” deKay said. “We ran it yesterday to just kind of test it out, and … if you go up (hills) well, you go down pretty well.”

THS sophomore Austin Cook gained an early lead on the field and never lost it to clock a winning 22:45.48. Runner-up Frannie Edelen, a freshman at Del Norte, finished in 25:22.26 and Pagosa Springs freshman Kaiya Lyons (26:14.71) placed third. Telluride sophomores Lana Kenworthy (26:15.56) and Kendal O’Callaghan (26:49.03) filled out the top five, as the Miners totaled an adjusted score-4 winning low of 14 points.

Ignacio senior Lauren deKay focuses upon the finish line Friday during the IHS-hosted Ignatius Invitational's high school girls' race. (Joel Priest/Special to the Herald)

PSHS (26) finished second and Montezuma-Cortez (38) third, led by senior Savannah Haselroth’s sixth-place 26:53.21.

On the boys’ side, Pagosa Springs totaled 21 points in a close win over IHS (28). Paced by junior Ben Hoffman (10th, 21:35.81) M-CHS earned third place by a scratch over Del Norte, 50-51.

Telluride (60) ranked fifth in the boys’ standings.

“It was a last-minute change of the course, last-minute change of everything,” said McCarter, “but we had a great turnout. And I think some great races, fortunately. The atmosphere was great, so super thank-yous to everybody for coming.”

“It was smaller than most meets,” Martin conceded, “but I’m glad we had a lot of people compete and challenge us.”

Ignacio will next head to Española Valley in New Mexico for the Sun Devils’ Del Valdez Memorial Invitational on Sept. 1.

“Going to be a little (more) flat,” Burcham assumed, “so … we can get the speed in that we kind of want.”

“I haven’t received a course map yet, so I’ve no projections,” said McCarter. “We’re just going to run, see how we do.”

Ignacio senior Phillip Quintana descends the final hill before the finish line Friday during the IHS-hosted 2023 Ignatius Invitational. Quintana placed 17th in the high school boys race, held at Jack-a-lope Acres off La Plata County Road 318. (Joel Priest/Special to the Herald)