Battle Mountain runs away with Aspen cross country title
The Aspen Times
When it comes to high school cross country running, everyone is chasing Battle Mountain.
At least everyone was chasing Battle Mountain runners on Saturday at the annual Chris Severy Invitational in Aspen.
The Huskies raced away with team titles in all of the high school divisions, dominating one of the largest fields in the history of the Severy memorial cross country races.
The Battle Mountain boys, led by Cameron Moore’s individual runner-up finish, placed three runners in the top seven. They totaled a low of 42 points to win the boys first-place trophy.
The Vanguard School from Colorado Springs was second with 121 team points followed by Fruita Monument (128), Ouray (203) and Glenwood Springs (211).
Battle Mountain’s girls totaled 50 points to take their division over second-place Kent Denver (90).
Palisade, paced by individual champion Greta Van Calcar, was third among the girls (113).
Fruita Monument (146) was fourth with Glenwood Springs (161) fifth.
Nineteen schools were represented at Saturday’s Chris Severy Invitational, coming from as far away as Denver, Colorado Springs, Summit County, Kremmling, Rangely, Meeker, Grand Junction, Fruita, Crested Butte, Ouray and Telluride.
Telluride native Jack Plantz won the boys 5-kilometer trail race through the trees and along the trails adjacent to Aspen High School, where Nordic ski trails take over the winter landscape. The Telluride High School junior finished in 18 minutes, 47 seconds.
The aforementioned Moore was second with Basalt standout Zach Walsh third, in spite of racing for just the first time in a month.
Battle Mountain, a high school in Edwards serving the greater Vail area, was bolstered by Alexis Aguirre in fourth and Ethan Pence in seventh.
“I took the lead right after the first hill when there’s that (first) downhill,” Plantz said. “We’ve been training a bunch of uphill/downhill repeats in Telluride. So, I got used to running fast down hill.”
He said the team preps for the upcoming State Cross Country Championships at the Penrose Equestrian Center in Colorado Springs with uphills and downhills … “the state meet in Colorado Springs has a lot of hills.”
“That was my strategy: Press the downhills and keep up with people on the uphills,” said Plantz, the son of Melissa and Mark Plantz.
But he was pressed to the end by Battle Mountain’s Moore.
“I could hear him back there,” Plantz said.
Similarly, in the girls high school varsity race, a threesome broke from the pack early.
Palisade’s Van Calcar, who won the annual Anna Banana Invitational in Fruita last weekend, pulled into the lead.
Julia Jaschke of Kent Denver settled into second with Basalt’s Hailey Swirbul, the defending champion in the Aspen race, right behind in third.
The trio extended their lead over the field; Van Calcar extended her lead over Jaschke and Swirbul, a national champion cross country ski racer.
They powered through the hilly course and finished in the same 1-2-3 order.
Rosa Gutierrez of Denver North was fourth.
“Most of that first mile feels like it’s downhill and you are just flying,” said Van Calcar, a Palisade junior. “Then that first big hill wasn’t too bad.”
But, she said, on the final uphill part of the final loop, she hit the wall.
“Coming up that very last loop … I don’t know if it was the altitude or what. But it hit me,” Van Calcar said. “I’ve never felt … like it was that hard to breathe, and I’ve never had a stomach ache. But I had the worst stomach ache.”
And still finished first in 22 minutes, 3 seconds.
“I was hoping to finish a lot stronger than I did. But the first part, I felt great,” she said. “My legs felt fine. It’s all in my stomach and my head.”
She also admitted to less-than-prime nutritional preparation for Saturday’s race in Aspen.
“Yesterday, I ate like half a pound of brownies,” she said, immediately switching gears when she heard that Swirbul, the third-place runner from Basalt, is a national cross country skiing champion.
“Oh that is so cool,” said Van Calcar, the daughter of Heidi and Karl Van Calcar. “I’ve always wanted to cross country ski. Maybe she could teach me.”
Battle Mountain’s teams, loaded with more cross country skiers, not only dominated the varsity races Saturday but the Huskies also ruled the junior varsity ranks, winning the boys divison with 23 points and the girls division with 25 points.
The Aspen High School girls JV team finished second with Kent Denver third.
The Vangaard School was second in the boys JV standings with Fruita Monument third.
Telluride won both of the middle school divisions over Summit Ridge Middle School of Littleton and Summit Middle School from Summit County. Henry Barth and Sophia Vigil, both from Glenwood Springs Middle School, were the individual race winners.
They added to a record field of middle school runners for the Severy Invitational. Summit Ridge Middle School brought 85 middle school runners to the races in Aspen on Saturday.
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American riders invited to compete in X Games from Jan. 29-31, who have continuously tested negative while in mandatory quarantine in Austria, are expected to compete at the event later this month in Aspen.