Anderson, Fruita duo use distinct approaches to win Tiger Invite
Two strikingly different strategies led Hotchkiss sophomore Natalie Anderson and Fruita junior Kyler Brown to individual titles at Friday’s Tiger Invitational cross country meet at Canyon View Park.
Anderson viewed her race as “running against time.” Brown joined forces with second-place finisher and teammate Chuck Bisbee to pace the field.
Anderson, who claimed her second individual title in as many weeks, led the girls 5,000-meter race nearly from start to finish. She clocked in at 19 minutes, 46 seconds for her fastest time of the season.
“I knew I had to stay focused,” Anderson said. “I was running against time, and I was trying to remind myself that no matter how big the gap is, it’s a close enough gap that they can still close it. That kind of helps.”
Anderson managed to stick to her race plan despite a fast start by the rest of the field.
“There were four girls who took off pretty fast,” Anderson said. “Lately I’ve been trying to run my race, not everyone else’s, so I stayed a little bit behind them. Once they got around the corner, they kind of slowed down, so I just went ahead and slowly picked it up.
“On the back side when I hit the dirt, I picked it up even more because it felt so much faster than the grass. I maneuvered and worked my way in.”
Hotchkiss placed four girls in the top five as second-place Taylor Polson (20:37) joined fourth-place Jenny Celis (20:50) and fifth-place Chelsy Reed (20:53) to lead the Bulldogs. Palisade’s Katy Mueller took third in 20:50 to round out the top five.
“I think we’re all really strong,” Anderson said of her Hotchkiss team. “We keep each other up. We know we’re all right there and we can run strong together. We just use each other to keep going. Taylor Polson has really improved and is doing really good this year.”
On the boys side, Brown, who won the 5,000-meter race in 16:08, and Bisbee (16:20) led Fruita Monument’s charge with strength in numbers. It resulted in personal best times for nearly all of the Wildcat runners.
“Chuck, (Alex) Rico and I have all been training together this week,” Brown said. “Chuck and I had a thing worked out where we’d pace each other, and that’s what we did. I was planning on trying to hit 5:20 miles. (Bisbee) is a year younger than me and that really got in my head when I hit the second mile, so I really dug it in the last mile.”
Behind Brown and Bisbee, Fruita had three more runners finish in the top 10. Rico (17:00) took fifth, Blaine Wood (17:17) was eighth and Victor Zamora (17:21) finished 10th.
Grand Junction’s Greg Eccher (16:32) was third and Charlie Medina (16:33) fourth.
Fruita coach Herb Huskey was pleased with his runners’ success, noting their hard work is paying off.
“Their training has been a little bit more intense this year,” Huskey said. “How could they not P.R., basically? They’re just realizing now that the payoff is coming. Hopefully they’ll see some more.. As a whole, boys and girls, I think they all (set personal records) today.
“We pulled (Brown and Bisbee) aside at the beginning of the year and told them that they would be leaders.
“I’m glad they’re getting it done this year so next year, and by the end of the year, they’ll have a better idea of how to lead a race, because that’s a hard thing to do.
“You’re always looking over your shoulder. These two guys are competitive with each other. Kyler is trying to hold Chuck off, and Chuck is coming after him, so that just pushes Kyler even harder. They train together. They work hard together.”