Entering the season with one senior and a plethora of underclassmen, Mancos High School’s boys and girls cross-country teams are less experienced and less intimidating than they’ve been in recent years.
Head coach Brady Archer is confident that his runners will improve as they gain experience, however, and after his team’s first two meets of the season, he was pleased.
“We have so many young runners and new runners, so it was nice to finally get out and run some races and see where everyone was as a runner,” Archer said. “Every race at this point in the season is a great learning opportunity on how to pace, how to race, and just giving them a baseline to grow from.”
The Bluejays’ first opportunity came at the Aztec Invitational on Aug. 30 and was highlighted by the performance of sophomore Grace Manning, who placed first with a time of 25:13.
Zoey Steele finished fifth (30:12), and Aspen Baumgarner placed 15th (32:29). The team did not have enough runners to qualify for the team standings.
Leading the Mancos boys at the Aztec Invitational was Edgar Hernandez, who placed eighth overall (23:25). James Ayers crossed the line in 10th place (24:16), and Stephen Knezek finished 11th (24:28). William Small placed 36th (43:27).
The Bluejays’ next opportunity to race came at the Lloyd’s Lake Classic in Monticello on Aug. 31. The boys were led by junior John Lund, who placed 26th (19:52.00). Hernandez finished 29th (20:02.40), Ayers finished 37th (20:43.10), and Knezek placed 49th (21:37.00).
The girls were led by Manning, who finished ninth (22:13.90). Steele, Guiles and Thomas competed in the junior varsity race and placed seventh, 12th and 14th, respectively.
Next up for both Mancos teams will be the Joe Vigil Open, in Alamosa on Sept. 8.