Led by Maley, Basalt girls cross country team wins season-opening home meet
Aspen girls also had strong showing at Crown Mountain Park
Gone but not forgotten, Sierra Bower’s legacy is still making an impact on the Basalt High School cross country team this season. The former state champion is now a freshman at Furman, but her old Longhorn teammates continued to channel her spirit on race day.
“She definitely left a lasting imprint of working hard. We still do her cheer that she used to do with us and all the other girls,” said BHS junior Katelyn Maley, who took over Bower’s throne when she won the state championship herself last fall. “I’m definitely missing Sierra right now. It’s kind of weird without her, not doing the warm-up with her, because we would just do what Sierra did, because we look up to her. So I hope we can be that for someone else.”
Maley and company kickstarted the season on Saturday with their own Longhorn Invitational at Crown Mountain Park in El Jebel. It was Maley’s first time competing in a high school cross country race since winning the state championship as a sophomore, and the team’s first go in a longtime without Bower, who won the 2019 state title as a junior.
All things considered, it was a pretty good start for the Longhorns, who won the girls’ team title on Saturday behind another strong performance by Maley.
“This was just a fact-finding mission today. I’m sure she is going to be pretty focused when the time comes and she needs to be,” longtime Basalt coach Ron Lund said of Maley’s chances at a repeat championship this fall. “We had a couple of freshmen that had a good go today. We didn’t have our full squad, but good first meet. We are really pleased with what we saw out there.”
Maley won the race — the first time in three tries she’s won her home event — in 19 minutes, 10.7 seconds. She finished well clear of runner-up Sophia Connerton-Nevin of Glenwood Springs (19:29.6) and Coal Ridge superstar Mikayla Cheney (third, 20:33.7). BHS junior Ava Lane was next in line for the Longhorns, finishing seventh in 21:11.2. Freshman Juniper Anderson was third among Basalt runners, finishing 19th in 22:58.4.
The Basalt girls finished with 89 points to take the team title over Coal Ridge and Aspen, who each had 113 points. Glenwood Springs was fourth with 147 points.
Photos: Girls cross country race at Crown Mountain
“We’ve all been training hard together, so it’s fun to have a really solid girls team,” Maley said. “I’m really excited for this season. Going in as a team, I’m excited to work with everyone and train with them. I’m feeling strong going in. We had a good summer of training, so I feel good.”
Aspen girls shine behind Weiss, Kenny
The Aspen girls also had a strong first outing on Saturday, with three runners finishing in the top 15 of the race. Juniors Elsie Weiss (fourth, 20:42.1) and Michaela Kenny (fifth, 20:52.4) led that list, while freshman Darienne Kenny was 14th in 22:16.6.
“That was not expected. That was a really good, fun result,” longtime AHS coach Chris Keleher said of the team’s race as a whole. “Michaela and Elsie stepped right in and picked up right where those two left off. That speaks to their leadership and their ability to help lead the squad already. It’s good.”
The two Keleher was referring two are Kylie Kenny and Kendall Clark, team mainstays the past four years before graduating in the spring. Kylie Kenny is set to play lacrosse for the University of Denver, while Clark is running cross country and track at Chapman University.
Much like Basalt with Bower, Aspen is learning to cope without its two anchors from the past four years.
“She was really excited to see how the team did and support everyone before she goes to college,” Michaela Kenny said of her older sister Kylie, who was in attendance for Saturday’s race. Darienne is the youngest of the three Kenny sisters. “It definitely was change, but I think the team is going to be really good without them because they set a really good path for the rest of the team to follow.”
The Aspen girls finished fourth in the Class 3A state championship race last fall, only two points behind third-placed Basalt, and will look to carry on similar success with Weiss and Michaela Kenny leading the charge this season.
Photos: Boys cross country race at Crown Mountain
“We are following in the footsteps of Kendall and Kylie and all of the senior girls who graduated last year,” Weiss said. “It’s going to be awesome. Once we get a few races under our belts and get in the swing of things, I think we are going to do really well.”
Boys were in short supply for both Aspen and Basalt on Saturday, with only one for BHS and two for AHS, so neither squad was able to record a team score. The highlight was Aspen sophomore Edwin Ryerson finishing 14th overall in 19:02.8.
Jonas Graff of Montrose won the boys race in 17:13.3, followed in second by Coal Ridge’s Tyler Parker in 17:28.3. Montrose won the boys team title with 69 points, followed in second by Moffat County’s 87 points and in third by Coal Ridge’s 112 points.
Complete race results can be found here.
The arts scene in Basalt continues to rival its up and down valley counterparts with several new exhibitions on the horizon and artists opening studio spaces and participating in group shows alongside their peers.
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