Basalt girls cross country team wins season opener at home, Bower third | AspenTimes.com
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Basalt girls cross country team wins season opener at home, Bower third

Basalt hosted its annual Longhorn Invitational on Saturday at a cold and wet Crown Mountain Park in El Jebel

BHS XC INVITE

GIRLS TOP FIVE

1. Ella Johnson, Glenwood 18:04

2. Sophia Connerton-Nevin, Glenwood 18:07

3. Sierra Bower, Basalt 18:13

4. Katelyn Maley, Basalt 18:32

5. Ava Lane, Basalt 19:46

GIRLS TEAM

1. Basalt 40

2. Aspen 57

3. Battle Mountain 62

BOYS TOP FIVE

1. Porter Middaugh, Battle Mountain 16:59

2. William Brunner, Battle Mountain 17:44

3. Reid Swanson, Glenwood 17:51

4. Noah Allen, Basalt 18:17

5. Quinn MacPherson, Glenwood 18:19

BOYS TEAM

1. Battle Mountain 40

2. Aspen 75

3. Glenwood 83

Considering the cross country season was condensed by two weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic, the first meet of the season meant a lot more this fall than it maybe ever has. And, when your team does well, like it did for coach Ron Lund’s Basalt High School squad, it leaves you feeling pretty optimistic.

“It’s good that we don’t have to spend the usual first two to three weeks getting them race ready — they are race ready now,” Lund said. “I was comparing their times to regionals from last year and almost all the returners ran faster. Which tells me they trained over the summer.”

Basalt hosted its annual Longhorn Invitational on Saturday at a cold and wet Crown Mountain Park in El Jebel. The season’s kickoff included lots of needed rain, as well as a few other oddities resulting from new COVID-19 protocol. For instance, the field for each race was capped at 50 and the athletes had to start in waves of around seven runners.

“Ron did an amazing job of just organizing that whole thing with all the different requirements,” Aspen High School coach Chris Keleher said. “There are so many different things they had to jump through. I was impressed he was able to pull that one off and very thankful we got to race so close to home.”

As they have the past few years, the girls stole the show for the Roaring Fork Valley teams. The Basalt girls defended their home course by winning with 40 points, followed by Aspen in second with 57 and Battle Mountain in third with 62. Throw in a 1-2 finish by a pair of Glenwood Springs High School runners, and the top nine placers all came from the immediate area.

“Basalt is tough. Their girls team is really good, as we knew. They are very deep,” Keleher said. “To put four in the top six to go 3-4-5-6, that was impressive. That was fun to watch. But right after that were three Aspen girls. The Western Slope is set up pretty darn well right now.”

Glenwood junior Ella Johnson was the race winner, finishing in 18 minutes, 4 seconds, while her teammate, sophomore Sophia Connerton-Nevin, was second in 18:07. Johnson finished fifth and Connerton-Nevin 16th in the Class 4A state championship meet last fall.

Coming in third was Basalt senior Sierra Bower with a time of 18:13. Bower is the reigning 3A state champion; prior to the season, she announced her verbal commitment to run for Furman University after her Longhorn career is over with.

Behind Bower, BHS had a trio of sophomores. Finishing fourth was Katelyn Maley (18:32), fifth was Ava Lane (19:46) and in sixth was Sarah Levy (19:51). All three competed in the state meet last season, part of a Basalt girls team that finished third in 3A.

“It doesn’t hurt when you put four in the top six, especially with the field that ran today,” Lund said. “Glenwood’s top two are the real deal and Aspen’s first girl was eighth at state last year and we got four in front of her, so that’s promising.”

Lund was referring to Aspen senior Kylie Kenny, who was seventh on Saturday with a time of 19:55. Fellow AHS senior Kendall Clark was eighth in 20:21 and sophomore Elsie Weiss was ninth in 20:32. AHS returns most of the girls that were part of last year’s fifth-place team at state.

While Basalt was pretty much at full strength on Saturday, Aspen had many key runners missing due to college testing. This was especially noticeable on the boys’ side, even though AHS had a strong showing by finishing second (75 points) to meet champ Battle Mountain (40 points). The Glenwood boys were third with 83 points and Basalt was fourth with 100 points.

“There is potentially more depth in there, we just didn’t have a full squad today,” Keleher said. “It’s a really, really strong team. It’s just a matter of getting them all to the starting line at the same time.”

Battle Mountain went 1-2 in the boys’ race, with Porter Middaugh taking the win in 16:59. His teammate, William Brunner, was second in 17:44 and Glenwood’s Reid Swanson was third in 17:51. Basalt senior Noah Allen was fourth in 18:17.

Basalt’s Talon Carballiera was seventh (18:37) and Ross Barlow was ninth (18:45). Both are actually Roaring Fork High School students and predominantly soccer players, but both came over to run for BHS this fall after the soccer season was pushed to the spring because of COVID-19.

“This was their first cross country race and man, they ran like seasoned veterans. Especially with the wave start where you only got, in this case, seven kids to key off of,” Lund said. “Noah, he caught guys in the first wave. He really ran well considering he had to run pretty much by himself most of the way.”

Aspen’s top result on the boys’ side was a 10th-place finish from George Beck (18:54), a standout mountain biker and ski mountaineering athlete who decided to run cross country after the pandemic essentially canceled the high school mountain bike season this fall. In 11th was Aspen’s Kenton Kowar in 19:06.

Neither Aspen nor Basalt will compete next week before going to two different meets the week after.

“We’ll be able to put in some good, hard work between now and then and hopefully keep the ball rolling, because kids are really running well,” Keleher said.

The regional meet is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 9 in Durango, with the state meet scheduled for Oct. 17 in Colorado Springs, two weeks earlier than originally planned. Because of the adjusted calendar, Aspen’s annual home meet, which this year was scheduled for Oct. 10, had to be canceled.

Basalt will host a junior varsity race in two weeks at Crown Mountain Park, and Glenwood Springs hopes to host a varsity meet sometime next month.

“To me it’s worth it to jump through the hoops,” Lund said of getting to race. “It was fun today. It wasn’t a normal meet, but it actually made the finish a little easier because you didn’t have six or seven boys come in all at once in a pack. It made the backup timing real easy.”

BASALT SOFTBALL SWEEPS GUNNISON, AHS FALLS TWICE

The Basalt High School softball team moved to 3-0 on the season after a pair of wins on Saturday in Gunnison. The Longhorns rolled 20-4 in the first game thanks to an 11-run first inning.

Game 2 was much closer, with BHS holding on for an 8-5 victory.

Basalt, which was a preseason top 10 team in Class 3A, next is scheduled to play Cedaredge on Tuesday.

The Aspen High School softball team fell to 0-3 after falling twice to Montezuma-Cortez on Saturday in Delta. Scores were 23-1 and 22-6.

BHS beat Aspen 29-0 in the season opener last week. The Skiers are off until playing Rifle on Saturday.

acolbert@aspentimes.com


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