Basalt’s Chiara Del Piccolo wins regional |

Basalt’s Chiara Del Piccolo wins regional

Nate PetersonThe Aspen TimesAspen CO, Colorado

DELTA, Colo. Basalt junior Chiara Del Piccolo runs better when she has someone pushing her. That wasn’t a problem at Saturday’s 3A cross-country regional at Delta.In a race that was hers to win, Del Piccolo didn’t disappoint, cruising to a convincing victory with a time of 19 minutes, 6 seconds to earn another trip to the 3A state meet.”It was a good effort for her to get ready for next week,” Longhorns coach Ron Lund said. “She ran well, ran strong. She runs stronger when she has somebody to chase or who is right on her, but that didn’t matter today.” Longhorns sophomore Annette Stenstadvold also earned another trip to state – which moves to Fort Collins this year – with a sixth-place showing (20:12). Basalt didn’t score as a girls team because it was short a finisher. The final Longhorns runner, Lyss Rousseve, finished her season with a 54th (27:01).Joining Del Piccolo and Stenstadvold at state will be all four boys scorers from Saturday after the Longhorns boys nabbed the fourth and final team berth.Connor Roper led the way for the Longhorns, in 10th (17:10), followed by Tyler Wilson (15th, 17:27), Andy Delany (22nd, 17:59) and Giulio Del Piccolo (30th, 18:56).Lund said he knew his boys team would be in the running for the last state berth when he learned that there would be 10 scoring teams in the race. Anything more than nine teams meant four regional berths. If only eight teams had four scoring runners, the number of state berths would have dropped to three.”We knew going in who our competition was,” Lund said. “The top three were pretty solid. We knew it was between us, Coal Ridge, who we beat twice this season and who beat us once by one point, Rifle and Buena Vista. We knew it was going to be tight.”As it turned out, a surge from Delany and Del Piccolo in the final half of the race put Basalt over the top.”At the halfway mark, we weren’t in fourth place,” Lund said. “My third and fourth guys closed the gap and passed a few guys they needed to get. I’m really excited about the way they responded.”In stark contrast, Aspen’s girls team found itself on the other end of a tight race.Hotchkiss edged out the Skiers girls by one point – 75 to Aspen’s 76 – to lock up the last team spot for Saturday’s race Fort Collins.Aspen’s Brianna Morse also missed an individual state berth by one spot, finishing 16th (21:14).”No one ran a particularly strong race,” coach Chris Keleher said. “They kind of picked the wrong weekend to have an off day. It was no one person’s fault.”Aspen’s other female scorers were Brittany Marrs (20th, 21:29), Lindsey Wilkinson (24th, 21:49) and Olivia Porcaro (28th, 22:21). Erika Heaphey – whose finish would have been crucial if Aspen wound up in a tiebreaker scenario – was 34th (22:31).Here’s how close the Skiers girls were: If any one of Aspen’s four scoring runners passed a Hotchkiss runner, the Skiers would have won outright. If any other runner from another scoring team would have passed a Hotchkiss finisher, there would have been a tie, which would have given the Skiers the state berth since Heaphey finished ahead of Hotchkiss’ fifth-place runner.”It’s about as close as you can get without qualifying,” Keleher said. “There’s no complaints. They ran well, but they didn’t run their best. I’d bet if you lined them up tomorrow, though, or even a half hour after the race, there would probably be a completely different result. … It’s just unfortunate that not running their best came on a really important day.”Aspen’s boys team, with three freshman and one senior in the lineup, finished 10th.The upside for Aspen is that the future appears bright.Hayden Joy was the top finisher for the Skiers boys, in 34th (19:02), followed by Bryce Gordon (41st, 19:43), Brett Gordon (45th, 20:12) and Nathan Hanson (55th, 21:22)

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