Running under overcast skies on a course known for its large hill and stunning views of Mesa Verde, Dolores teammates Philip Hufman and Brennan Hite finished first and second, respectively, at the Ancient Trails Invitational in Cortez on Oct. 5.
The senior teammates, who ran times of 18:26 and 18:28, left little doubt as to their status as the top male competitors in the six-team meet, which also hosted runners from Mancos, Cortez, Bayfield, Durango and Pagosa Springs.
“I went out hard and kept a hard pace to try to burn off the competition,” said the senior, who also won a meet in Bayfield earlier this season. There’s one really bad hill, and you have to recover for a while before you get your wind back. The times on this course are always a bit slower, but I felt like I did well.”
Joining Hufman and Hite in the top three was Montezuma-Cortez High School sophomore John Whyte, who ran with the Dolores tandem for the first half of the race and finished third overall (19:26).
M-CHS teammates Davian Robinson and Wes Atcitty finished seventh (20:17) and 16th (21:33), respectively. Jadon Elliott placed 24th (24:40), and Josh Hughes finished 26th (25:13) for the hometown Panthers.
“I felt really great hanging with the Dolores people,” Whyte said. The course is really fun. You get to see the mesa a little bit and run trails. Our team has been running together and doing more springs. I’m hoping to qualify for state.”
Also running well in the meet were Mancos freshman Edgar Hernandez, who placed fifth overall (20:01), and Mancos junior John Lund, who crossed the line in sixth place (20:07). James Ayers placed 14th (21:05), Stephen Knezek finished 15th (21:24), and William Small crossed the line in 28th place (29:10) for the Bluejays.
“The challenging part of this course is that hill,” Hernandez said. “Getting on top of that mesa isn’t easy.”
Because Dolores and Bayfield did not have at least five runners, neither team qualified for the team standings. Pagosa Springs finished first overall, Mancos finished second, Durango’s junior varsity finished third, and M-CHS finished fourth in the team standings.
Mancos runners will return to competition at the Eric Wolff Invitational in Monte Vista on Oct. 12, while M-CHS runners will take a week off and practice in preparation for their Class 3A Regional meet in Aspen on Oct. 19. Dolores runners will compete in Monticello on Oct. 12.