It was the kind of race Zeb Shields could build momentum with before Bayfield High School hosts the regional cross-country championship next week.
The Bayfield High School senior was victorious Saturday at the Chicken Creek Challenge in Mancos with a 5-kilometer run time of 17 minutes, 22 seconds. He was 32 seconds in front of Montezuma-Cortez senior John Whyte to earn the victory in the boys race.
“It was a big race for him,” BHS head coach Josh Walton said. “Really, a big confidence-booster for everyone today; almost everyone set a season-best on a course that is not designed for season-bests. Zeb didn’t, but he was 10 seconds from it. So to me, he’s ready for next weekend at regionals.”
It was also a strong day for meet host Mancos. Though the Bluejays did not have enough to compete for a team score, juniors Edgar Hernandez and Connor Sehnert finished third and fourth, respectively. Hernandez crossed the line in 18:37, while Sehnert finished in 19:23. Michael Brafford of Dolores was fifth, as the sophomore finished in 19:40.
Bayfield High School’s boys would win the team title. Freshman Preston Gomez placed ninth in 20:31. Royce Hinojosa, a junior, was 12th in 20:48, and junior Michael Everett placed 20th in 21:40. Tristan Sager, a freshman, added a 23rd-place finish in 22:20, and Liam Smith, a junior, rounded out the Wolverines in 31st in 23:39.
“Royce and Preston both PR’d for the season –by like 30 seconds – again, on a very hard course,” Walton said. “Michael ran well, and Tristan and Liam both season-PR’d. I’m really happy with that.”
BHS scored 48 points as a team. Durango High School’s junior varsity placed second with 52 points, and Montezuma-Cortez was third with 62. Ignacio High School was fourth with 75 points, and Dolores was fifth with 92.
DHS senior Evan Bastin led the Demons with a sixth-place finish in 20:22. Nathaniel Ellis, a freshman, was 10th in 20:40. Also for DHS, freshman Micah Zastrocky was 15th in 21:12, and Thomas Pope, a junior, placed 16th in 21:14. William McFarlane, a freshman, was 25th in 22:40. DHS senior Wiley Corra continued his strong comeback from a traumatic brain injury, as he finished in 23:24 to place 20th.
Ignacio’s boys were led by Dylan LaBarthe. The senior placed seventh in 20:29. Sophomore Eppie Quintana was 18th in 21:24, and Phillip Quintana, a freshman, was 19th in 21:32. Also for IHS, Gabe Tucson placed 27th, as the junior finished in 23:11. Freshman Trajan Garcia was 28th in 23:18.
Durango High’s junior varsity won the girls race with 38 points, while Ignacio was second with 54, 10 points ahead of third-place Pagosa Springs. Mancos was fourth with 78 points, and Montezuma-Cortez was fifth with 105.
Pagosa Springs senior Megan Greenley placed first in 22:33. That was seven seconds in front of Durango junior Bailey Freeman. Grace Manning of Mancos was third, as the senior finished in 22:43.
Maci Barnes, an Ignacio freshman, was fourth in 23:02, while senior teammate Charlize Valdez was fifth in 23:07. Also for the Bobcats, junior Avaleena Nanaeto placed 13th in 24:33, freshman Moriah Ashley was 14th in 25:03 and senior Vanessa Gonzalez was 18th in 25:58.
Durango’s Mason Turner, a junior, was sixth in 23:56, while Montezuma-Cortez senior Ridley Dennison led her team with a seventh-place result in 24:03.
Also for DHS, sophomore Seneca Wilson was ninth in 24:06, and freshman Zoelle Frazer placed 10th in 24:08.
All of the teams will compete at regionals next week with the chance to qualify for state. BHS will host the 3A Region 1 meet at 9 a.m. Friday at Hillcrest Golf Club in Durango.
“We’re just looking forward to next week for regionals,” Walton said. “We’re primed to host it, and it’s going to be fun to have 12 teams from throughout the state. It’s exciting to run on a course like this and run as well as they did, so for next week I feel like they’re going to be ready.”
Joel Priest contributed to this report.[email protected]