Area’s top runners set for Anna Banana

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It’s the fast track in the area for cross country, and it comes with a wild name — Anna Banana.

The Anna Banana Invitational is named for former Fruita runner Anna Janowitz, whose nickname was “Anna Banana.”

Fruita Monument High School hosts the cross country race Saturday at Connected Lakes State Park.

Janowitz was killed in a car accident in 2002 as she was on her way to cross country practice.

A community race, which includes anyone besides competing high schoolers, will take place at 8 a.m.

The boys varsity race is at 10 a.m., followed by the girls varsity race at 10:30. The junior varsity races follow the girls race.

Spectators should carpool and park on the right side of Dike Road only, said Fruita coach Herb Huskey.

“You will be walking a long way because there is very limited parking,” he said.

Huskey expects at least 23 teams to participate, including Central, Grand Junction, Palisade, Telluride, Aspen, Bayfield, Delta, Denver North, Eagle Valley, Greeley West, Hotchkiss, Meeker, Grand Valley, Moffat County, Montrose, Olathe and Paonia.

That will make for just shy of 500 varsity and junior varsity runners, plus 200 participants in the citizen’s race, Huskey said.

The course is primarily flat with asphalt, gravel and pavement, and it winds around the lakes and down the River Front Trail path.

Among the favorites in the boys race are two Grand Junction High School runners, Greg Eccher and Charlie Medina, who placed fourth and fifth, respectively, at last season’s Anna Banana.

“Greg has a lot of natural speed, and he seems to do well with flat courses,” said Grand Junction coach Kim Dobson, who will compete in the community race. “And Charlie had a great race last weekend, going 16:22, so I think they’ll both be right up there, and of course they push each other.”

Telluride’s Rachel Hampton, who won the girls division last season with a time of 18 minutes, 51 seconds, will participate again.

She could be challenged by Hotchkiss’s Natalie Anderson and Jennifer Celis and Delta twins Cleo and Clarissa Whiting. At last season’s Anna Banana, Clarissa broke Delta’s 5-kilometer school record with a 19:04.

“I expect Cleo and Clarissa both to run in the 18:40s,” Delta coach JB Lopez said. “They’re going to do it. They’re prime.”

PALISADE COACH HONORED

IBM, CHSAA and the Denver Broncos this week recognized Palisade High School coach Wendy MacAskill as an IBM High School Hero of the Week.

“For the last 12 years coach MacAskill has had a strong, positive influence on the young ladies that have walked the halls of Palisade High School,” Palisade Athletic Director Mike Krueger said in a news release. “She is an incredible role model for her volleyball players, her own girls, and for our entire athletic department as a whole.”

Rutan settling in at No. 1

Fruita Monument senior Nick Rutan’s 6-2, 7-5 win at No. 1 singles Wednesday over Montrose’s Phurba Sherpa earned him praise from Wildcats boys tennis coach Clint Davis.

“That’s five wins in six matches now for Nick, who has found his game of late,” Davis said. “(No.) 1 singles takes some getting used to, but now that he has some confidence, he has also found success.”

Tigers Impressive in defeat

Although Montrose lit up the scoreboard late in its 5-1 victory over Grand Junction in boys soccer Tuesday, Indians coach Jim Pavlich was impressed by what he saw from the Tigers in a game that was 1-1 at the half.

“Grand Junction played really quality soccer,” Pavlich said. “It’s nice to play a team that wants to possess and finish instead of playing long ball.”

Pavlich also spoke highly of the Tigers’ Josh Murdock, who took seven shots and scored Junction’s goal, an impressive blast from 25 yards out that he sent across the goal mouth.

“He was giving us fits, to be honest,” Pavlich said.

RUNNING BACKS RIDING HIGH

Rifle’s Ryan Moeller isn’t the only area running back putting up big numbers this season.

Hotchkiss senior Jacobe Galley has rushed for 639 yards on 58 carries for Hotchkiss (3-1), including seven touchdowns. He averages 11 yards per carry. Galley, a linebacker, also averages 6.3 tackles per game.

But it’s all that, plus kicking, that really gets the senior tired.

“Last year he had three carries over 50 yards, and he’d kick a PAT, then kick off, then play defense,” Hotchkiss coach Zac Lemon said. “That’s when he got the most tired.”

Galley also punts, returns punts (one for 52 yards) and returns kickoffs (three for 131 yards, including a 99-yard touchdown).

Great games on tap

No. 5 Hotchkiss takes on No. 8 Cedaredge (3-1) in a 1A Western Slope Conference contest that is one of several area games tonight featuring top 10 teams.

Montrose (3-2) hosts No. 3 Monarch (3-1), and the Indians have a prolific running back of their own: Angelo Youngren, who has rushed for 817 yards on 101 carries with 10 touchdowns.

Montrose is coming off a 60-0 victory over Hinkley.

Two of Class 2A’s best are squaring off in Parachute. No. 4 Bayfield (4-0) is at No. 5 Grand Valley (4-0) in what could eventually decide the 2A Western Conference champion.

Bayfield’s new in the league.

GJ PREP BLOG

Did you know Kieran Thompson, Camren Thomas and Valenda Costigan were Fans of the Week on The GJ Prep Blog?

On Thursday, Palisade High soccer scorekeeper Haydon Harrell was featured.

Check out the fans of the week, as well as other happenings in Grand Valley high school sports, at gjprepblog.wordpress.com or “like” the blog on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/GjPrepBlog.


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