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Ignacio XC hoping to benefit immediately

’Cats getting regional glimpse at ’23 opener
Now-senior Lauren deKay of Ignacio runs in the 2021 Boggy Draw Bear Chase in Dolores. IHS will begin the 2023 season at the BDBC on Saturday. (Joel Priest/Special to the Herald)

Though many of her returning runners are familiar with features like ‘Yogi Hill’ and ‘Boo Boo Hill’ on the rugged, forested race route geographically north of, and topographically situated above Dolores, Karri McCarter admitted she’s in the dark about the challenge posed by DHS’ season-opening fifth annual Boggy Draw Bear Chase.

But you can bet your bottom dollar that Ignacio cross-country’s head coach will be taking plenty of physical and mental notes during the Bobcats’ walk-through on Saturday, and then during all the off-road excitement of the meet – not the Four Corners’ largest, but always one of its heartiest.

In 2023, there’s an added benefit for IHS and all the 2A San Juan Basin League teams attending.

“I believe it’s going to be the course for our regional this year,” McCarter said. “We’ll be able to get out on our regional course, and our freshmen … they’ll be able to run on a 5K course. We missed last year’s (Chase), in my first season, so I’m personally excited to run there.”

Now-senior Phillip Quintana of Ignacio races the 2021 Boggy Draw Bear Chase in Dolores. IHS will begin the 2023 season at the BDBC on Saturday. (Joel Priest/Special to the Herald)

This year’s Chase will get underway with middle school races at 9 a.m., followed by the high school girls at 10 and boys at 10:30.

Even more exciting to the boss is the fact that she’ll have several returning runners seeing their first action this fall. Five individuals return to the boys’ team, led by seniors Phillip Quintana and Corey Gomez.

“Corey’s been working hard since track season, and has taken significant numbers off all his times,” McCarter said. “I also have two returning freshmen (from 2022) in Dillon Brann and Trace Crane, and I have another sophomore – who did not run (cross-country, but did track-and-field) for us last year … and his name is James Martin.”

Incoming freshmen Cayson Burcham, Judah Ashley and Thunder Windy Boy presently round out the gents’ roster, and all come in with extensive middle-school experience – certain to help in filling a vacancy left by sophomore Aven Bourriague, who elected to suit up for IHS Football this fall.

Ravaged by injury in ’22, the Bobcat girls will begin the new season just three in number, led by senior Lauren deKay.

“Lauren, she’s looking great, looking really strong. She’s also been out all summer working on different things – like also trying to improve her pole vault,” McCarter said. “And I have (senior) Moriah Ashley, who again is having some foot issues; I don’t know if she’ll run this weekend. And I have a brand-new sophomore in Alyssa Atencio.”

If it seems like someone’s missing, however, a certain senior is.

“Maci Barnes is going to be a superstar on the volleyball team, and then we’ll see her again in the track season,” McCarter said. “Actually, Maci’s been out all summer running with us, she’s also been jumping with Jordan Lanning in our jump sessions – Maci’s an exceptional jumper – and she’s been doing a couple runs a week just to stay in shape. She can go into track season really strong, and that’s super exciting.”

Following the BDBC, providing a sneak peek at the 2A-Region IV Championships, IHS will host the Bobcat Invitational on Aug. 25.

“This year, I put a home meet together! It’s on the 25th … and unfortunately pre-state (the Cheyenne Mountain Stampede in Colorado Springs) decided to move up to that weekend too,” McCarter said. “We’re not going like everybody else, and I hope we can try to attract some of the New Mexico teams who don’t have a ‘pre-state.’ There’s tough runners in northern New Mexico.”

The ’Cats will see many of those New Mexico runners on Sept. 1 when they hit Española Valley’s Del Valdez Memorial Invitational.

“Most of our team has been out since June putting in some sort of training,” she continued, alluding to not only Ignacio’s cross-country runners but also some eager track athletes. “We had things going on this summer – Jordan Lanning was out helping us with jumps – and since we’re a small school, kids cross over and not just run cross-country. Since June it’s been pretty fun.”