Basalt’s Sierra Bower wins regional cross country meet; AHS qualifies both teams
1. Gunnison (50)
2. Moffat (86)
3. Aspen (118)
4. Pagosa Springs (130)
1. Colton Spice, Gunnison 16:40.8
2. Alex Baca, Gunnison 16:57.9
3. Wyatt Mortenson, Moffat 17:10.6
4. John Ames, Delta 17:20.6
5. Everett Olson, Aspen 17:28.9
1. Pagosa Springs (43)
2. Moffat (53)
3. Aspen (67)
4. Gunnison (88)
1. Sierra Bower, Basalt 20:03.5
2. Sierra Liverett, Pagosa Springs 20:25.8
3. Kylie Kenny, Aspen 20:31.8
4. Ivy Pelletier, Gunnison 20:34.9
5. Megan Greenly, Pagosa Springs 20:38.7Complete meet results can be found at co.milesplit.com.
A summer injury delayed the start of Sierra Bower’s cross country season. But the Basalt High School sophomore is certainly trying to make the best of the finish.
Friday at Aspen Golf Club, Bower won the girls Class 3A Region 1 meet with a time of 20 minutes, 3.5 seconds to secure herself a spot in the state meet next weekend.
“She was really smart about her comeback and is rounding into form at the right time,” said BHS coach Ron Lund. “Her training has really been coming together. She had a race plan and executed it pretty well, so I’m looking forward to what she can do next week. I think she can mix it up with them.”
The regional meet, hosted by Aspen High School, was prove-it time for the runners. The top four teams qualified for state, allowing them to send a team of seven to the Norris Penrose Event Center in Colorado Springs for the Oct. 27 finale. Anyone to finish in the top 15 who did not run for any those four teams also qualified.
Pagosa Springs won the girls team title with 43 points, followed by Moffat County (53), Aspen (67) and Gunnison (88). Basalt was fifth with 134 points and on the outside looking in. Bower’s win makes her the lone Longhorn, boy or girl, headed to state. Junior teammate Lily Gillis finished 18th, three spots shy of qualifying.
“I really like running on golf courses, so this is definitely one of my favorite courses,” Bower said of regionals. “I went out feeling pretty fast and I just kind of stuck with that pace and tried not to slow down too much and that was my strategy going into the race.”
Bower pretty much led the race start to finish, beating runner up Sierra Liverett, a Pagosa Springs freshman, by more than 22 seconds. Aspen sophomore Kylie Kenny was third in 20:31.8, while her Skier teammate, sophomore Kendall Clark, was ninth in 21:03.
Bower finished fifth at regionals last fall as a freshman, earning a spot at the state meet alongside senior teammate Carly Robinson. Bower ended up 35th overall at state in 2017, while Robinson was 54th.
“I didn’t really have the best performance there last year, so I’m excited to go back and try to do better,” Bower said. “I had an injury early season and wasn’t able to race in the first meet and kind of had to slowly recover, so this was really nice having a win here.”
Skiers sending everyone to state
While the Aspen girls qualified as a team with their third-place finish, they had four that would have made it as individuals regardless with a top-15 finish. With Kenny and Clark leading the way, sophomores Macy Hopkinson (13th) and Edie Sherlock (14th) also put in a strong performance. Aspen sophomore Bronwyn Chesner was next in 28th, with Basalt sophomore Sophia Moon at 29th.
The AHS girls also qualified as a team last fall, where they ended up taking 12th at state.
“They just ran super well,” AHS coach Chris Keleher said. “They really, really stepped up, especially the three and four girls. They really drove hard in the middle of the race.”
The Aspen boys also finished third and will go to state as a team. Gunnison took top honors on the boys side with 50 points, followed by Moffat County’s 86 points and the Skiers’ 118 points. Basalt was 11th out of 14 teams.
Aspen, which didn’t qualify any boys to the state meet a year ago, had two finish top 10 on Friday. Senior Everett Olson was fifth overall in 17:28.9, while senior Nicholas Galambos was ninth in 18:05.5. Gunnison went 1-2 in the boys race, with senior Colton Stice winning in 16:40.8 and sophomore teammate Alex Baca coming in with a time of 16:57.9 for second.
“It’s been a while for the boys,” Keleher said of finally getting the boys back to the state meet. “That was super fun to watch. Those guys have worked really hard. They are a testament to hard work throughout the summer.”
Basalt’s top finisher in the boys race was senior Leighton Albright, who was 24th. Aspen senior Colt Whitley was third for the Skiers in 27th.
The 24-year-old progressed from 49th in the 2019 GS ranking to 28th in 2021 and 15th last year. His two early-season sixth-place marks were a prelude to his breakthrough fourth-place finish in Beijing, where he just missed the podium.