Basalt boys win regional title; Aspen’s Hoffman is regional champ
On paper, the Basalt boys cross country team had the four fastest runners heading into Saturday’s 3A regional at the Aspen Golf Course.That meant absolutely nothing to Longhorns head coach Ron Lund. To win a regional title, the Longhorns had to prove they were the best team on the five kilometer track of grass and dirt that made up Saturday’s course. Led by senior Collin Stewart’s second-place time of 18 minutes, 17 seconds, the Longhorns did just that. Junior Duncan McDaniel (19:00) and sophomore Casey Weaver (19:02) finished fourth and fifth, respectively. Junior Theo Pulver turned in his best race of the season with an 11th place finish (19:29).
As a team, Basalt finished with just 22 points, 16 better than second-place finisher Aspen (38).”Going in, it was the boys race to lose,” Lund said. “They ran the way they’ve been running and we had a huge race from our fourth guy.”Aspen junior Noah Hoffman was the individual regional champ following a runner-up finish at last year’s race. The junior hardly looked fatigued when he jogged across the finish line, clocking in with a winning time of 17:54.Last year’s regional champ, Garrett Marquardt of Gunnison, finished third behind Stewart with a time of 18:30.”It feels good,” Hoffman said after the win. “I really liked this course and the altitude is an obvious advantage. The course suits me because there’s not a lot of pavement. A lot of gradual hills, which I like a lot. It’s a strength course.”
The win was Hoffman’s second of the season. He won the Holy Family Invite in Denver on Sept. 30. Aspen’s other three runners finished high enough to give the Skiers a 10-point advantage over third-place Gunnison (48).Junior Barton Tofany was ninth in 19:27. Junior Jacob O’Connor finished in 12th place (19:36) and junior Nate Marrs was 16th (19:46).Stewart tried to stick with Hoffman for as long as he could, but could only remain within eyeshot as Hoffman pulled further and further ahead.”He’s been ahead of me all year,” Stewart said after the race. “He always has that leg up on me, especially at altitude. It’s good to have him there because I’m always looking to push myself.”Saturday’s race was run under clear blue skies with the temperature hanging in the low 50s – ideal running conditions for October. Ideal conditions didn’t mean all 42 runners in the field had an ideal race.
A number of runners underestimated the gradual climbs on the course, only to collapse from exhaustion at the finish line. One runner from Grand Valley actually collapsed five feet before the finish line, then crawled the rest of the way after being passed by three runners in the pack.Lund said next week’s state course in Colorado Springs – one of the flattest courses in the state – should be a little easier to complete.”We know it’s going to be a different course and we know there’s going to be a lot more kids,” he said. “That’s going to play into our hands.”Nate Peterson’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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The Aspen High School ski team wrapped up its short and sweet regular season Friday with home races at Highlands. The Skiers hosted both a slalom and giant slalom on Thunderbowl, with an AHS athlete taking three of the wins.