Palisade's Van Calcar, Montrose's Meeks easily capture Anna Banana titles
Like a bright pink beacon, Greta Van Calcar and her colorful lipstick led the way Saturday, winning the girls cross-country race at the 12th annual Anna Banana Memorial Wildcat Invitational.
The race is named for Anna Janowitz, a former Fruita Monument cross-country runner who died in a car crash.
For Van Calcar, fuchsia lipstick started as superstition and morphed into a signature look. Her bright-colored lips are visible from anywhere on the course, not that her competitors saw her at Connected Lakes State Park.
“It started my freshman year when I thought, ‘Hey, this is a cool color of lipstick,’ and wore it,” she said. “Then everyone started commenting on it. Now, it’s like if I don’t have my lipstick on during a race, I don’t know what do with myself. It’s turned into a superstition where the parents will see me without it and ask about it, and I just have to get it on.
“I’m a very superstitious person. I wear the same lipstick, bra and underwear, shirt, everything when I run a race. I’m really routine about it. It’s all part of getting ready to race.”
Van Calcar finished in 18 minutes, 35 seconds, a time she said was higher than she expected because she “dwindled off in (her) thoughts.” Still, Van Calcar’s time was more than a minute better than the second-place finisher, and she said she enjoys the Western Slope races that still boast a large field of runners.
“It’s not like the Liberty Bell race in Denver with a bunch of huge schools,” Van Calcar said. “I know my time wasn’t great today, but I usually perform better at these types of races. It’s such a nice course.”
Grand Junction’s Taylor Chaffetz finished fourth with a time of 20:34. The Tigers also got a seventh-place finish from Andrea Lielkoks, who finished with a time of 20:45.
Fruita Monument’s Mac- Kennea Broyles was 14 seconds behind Lielkoks and took 13th. Central’s Tianna Farris was 21st.
Eagle Valley took the girls team title, and Grand Junction finished second. Palisade finished third and Fruita Monument was fourth.
Meek wins boys race
Montrose cross-country runner Ian Meek likes to be part of a pack of runners. It gives him something to work toward, and having competition was one of the reasons he was looking forward to the Anna Banana Invitational.
But when Meek glanced to each side early in the race and saw there was no one around him, he chased the pace bike.
Although he fell short of the school’s 5-kilometer record, Meek won by more than 30 seconds with a time of 15:50.
“The last few weeks there hasn’t been a lot of competition,” Meek said. “In Delta, there was a great group of guys at the front, and we flew. I’ve been waiting for a race to go out there and just go at it with a great group of guys, and I thought this one would be it, but that’s not how it worked out today.”
Instead, Meek chased the pace bike with the determination of a farm dog chasing a car.
Still, Montrose cross country coach Brian Simpson said if Meek runs in another highly competitive race this season, the sophomore will likely break the school record of 15:47.
“It’s different when there’s a runner beside you, and you can feel their breath, hear their feet, feel their energy,” Simpson said. “A pack will put him over the top.”
Grand Junction’s Allen Adair finished fourth in 16:35, and Palisade’s Jake Erickson was fifth in 16:37. Central’s Jared Leblow finished 11th with a time of 17:00.
Fruita Monument won the team title, with each of its five scoring runners finishing in the top 25. Nolan Pflug led the charge, placing eighth with a time of 16:49.
Grand Junction finished second, Montrose third, and Central and Palisade tied for fifth.
Wildcats coach Katie Lloyd said it was great to have the boys team win its home meet.
“These guys put so much effort into that race, and it really showed,” Lloyd said. “I don’t know that I’ve seen them run as tightly packed as they did today.
“It’s our home course, and this race is named after a former runner. We just take a lot of pride in winning here.”