Anderson finishes XC season strong

Moffat County’s Alfredo Lebron crosses the finish line to win the Class 3A boys state cross country championship at the Arapahoe County Fairgrounds on Saturday.

AURORA — By her own admission, it has been a rough up-and-down cross country season for Hotchkiss High School sophomore Natalie Anderson.

Anderson made a splashy debut last year as a freshman, placing third at the Class 3A state meet and helping the Bulldogs to a second-place team finish. Naturally, Anderson expected more of the same this season, at least until fate intervened in a painful manner.

Limited by a stress fracture in her left foot throughout the summer, Anderson started slowly out of the gate in 2011. However, those pains became a distant memory on Saturday, as Anderson finished in fourth-place during the Class 3A final, helping to lead the Hotchkiss girls to a third-place finish in the team race.

Delta’s Clarissa Whiting was the other local standout, as the junior recorded a ninth-place finish in the Class 4A girls final.

“I’ve had a really rough season, to say the least,” Anderson said. “I just haven’t been where I wanted to be.  All my times have been a minute or 40 seconds slower than last year. I just wanted to get back to where I was. But this was my best race of the season, so I’m really happy with it.”

Although Anderson finished one notch lower than last year’s third-place finish, that drop was not reflected in her time. Running the same course at the Arapahoe County Fairgrounds as last season, Anderson finished with a time of 19:22.07, trimming more than 81⁄2 seconds off her third-place time from 2010.

Hotchkiss made its mark in the team standings thanks to four top-53 finishes, highlighted by a 26th-place mark from Taylor Polson and 50th-place finish from Jenni Celis.

Hotchkiss’ boys team, led by a 26th-place finish from junior Cody Bartlett and a 27th-place mark from Trevor Walters, placed ninth in the 3A boys standings.

“I came in know it was the last race of my season, and I really wanted to do it,” Anderson said. “The first mile, I felt really strong. And I knew the hill on the last mile was going to be the toughest, but I powered up that one like I like to, and I just finished how I wanted to.”

Whiting was a standout in the girls 4A race, placing ninth to help the Delta Panthers to a 17th-place mark in the team standings. Twin sister Cleo Whiting supported Clarissa Whiting’s effort by recording a 38th-place finish. Palisade’s Katy Mueller finished 95th.

Delta senior Jacob Ames placed 15th in the 4A boys final with a time of 17:13.72.

“It was the hardest race I’ve ever run,” Clarissa Whiting said. “I got tired sooner than I thought I was going to. But I had the mental training to do it.

“I don’t know what it was, to be honest. I got mentally tired and it was hard. But I got ninth, and I was ranked 14th. All I wanted was top 15. I didn’t even make it to state last year, so I’ll take it.”

Fruita Monument’s Kyler Brown placed 41st in Class 5A after resting most of the past two weeks with shin splints. Teammate Chuck Bisbee placed 48th.

Grand Junction’s Greg Eccher placed 45th in his first state cross country meet and teammate Charlie Medina finished 68th.

The Tigers’ Trinity Simmons was 99th in the girls race.


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