Aspen, Basalt harriers hitting their stride
Forget the location. Friday’s boys cross-country race at the Holy Family Invite in Denver was all about Aspen and Basalt.With a win from senior Noah Hoffman and the best performance of the season from sophomore Scott Lacy, the Skiers boys staved off Basalt by one point. Aspen recorded a 1-7-9-16 finish to pick up the win with 33 points, with Basalt just one point off with a 4-6-10-14 finish. Friday marked the first time this season that Basalt raced with a full boys team, which, needless to say, left Basalt head coach Ron Lund shocked by how well his team ran. Behind Hoffman, the defending regional champion, Aspen is a favorite to win the regional title this year after Basalt took the title last year.Both teams will meet again Saturday at the Chris Severy Invitational at the Aspen Golf Course – the lone home meet for the Skiers this season. The meet is somewhat of a home meet for the Longhorns as well, since they don’t host a meet this year.Hoffman, as usual, ran way out in front of the pack in Denver, and easily won in 17 minutes, 7 seconds. Seventy-two runners from 11 schools ran in the race. Hoffman was followed by senior Barton Tofany (seventh, 18:30), Lacy (ninth, 18:39) and senior Jacob O’Connor (16th, 19:10). Senior Nate Marrs, typically one of Aspen’s top four, didn’t score after finishing 17th in 19:13.Basalt was led by junior Brennan Roper, who returned from an ankle injury to finish fourth (18:07).Senior Duncan McDaniel was sixth (18:28), sophomore Tyler Wilson was 10th (18:41) and junior Casey Weaver, in his first race of the season, was 14th (18:59).Lund was glad to have McDaniel, Weaver and Roper in the lineup. McDaniel also plays on Basalt’s soccer team but didn’t have a game Friday, which allowed him to race. Weaver didn’t start practicing until a few weeks ago.”It was tough to figure out who was going to win,” Aspen coach Chris Keleher said. “We knew it was going to be really close. A finish like that makes for some anxious moments when you’re trying to figure out scores.””I knew it was going to be close when they went by me about a quarter mile away from the finish,” Lund said.The key to Aspen’s win was Lacy, Keleher said.”It’s really a team event, but obviously Scott had an incredible race,” he said. “Nate had been sick all week and Jake didn’t have a very good race. He was the one who basically kept us in it.”Lund doesn’t expect his boys team to run as well Saturday. McDaniel will again be absent because of a soccer game, and Lund plans to hold out Roper to preserve his sore ankle for the regional meet in Delta on Oct. 21.In the girls race, senior Amy Lund win in 20:41 propelled Basalt to a second-place finish. The victory is the first ever in the history of the program, Ron Lund said.”She’s been second or third a bunch of times, and last year, Collin Stewart was second a bunch,” Lund said of his daughter. “Obviously she was very happy. She understands that it’s always a function of which teams are at a particular meet. She ran really well Saturday.”Basalt’s other points came from junior Nuala Del Piccolo (ninth, 22:16), freshman Chiara Del Piccolo (13th, 23:11) and junior Annie Tempest (17th, 23:37).Holy Family won on its home course with 23 points, followed by Basalt with 40 and Aspen with 47.”We had beaten [Holy Family] at [the Liberty Bell Invitational] two weeks ago, so I was a little surprised that they ran as strong as they did,” Lund said.Tempest, who is fighting a calf injury, isn’t expected to run Saturday at Aspen.For the Skiers, junior Natalie Obermeyer continued her impressive streak of finishes with a third-place showing in 21:39. Sophomore Lindsey Wilkinson was seventh (22:06), followed by senior Laura Hatanaka (18th, 23:38) and sophomore Brittany Marrs (19th, 23:43). Senior Haylen Gregory didn’t score, but finished just behind Marrs in 20th (23:44).”The goal this weekend is to try to close the gap with the Basalt girls,” Keleher said. “With both the boys and girls, it continues to be a good rivalry [between us and Basalt]. It’s a very friendly rivalry. The kids like running against the Basalt kids. [For the boys], that was a big step forward to beat them, after losing to them last year. It’s sort of a turnaround. It gives us a lot of positive momentum heading into this week.”Nate Peterson’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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Aspen Skiing Co. will delay the opening of Aspen Highlands until Dec. 18 due to lack of a base and scant snow in the forecast.