‘Cats sweep cross country titles
After pushing his teams hard all season, Fruita Monument High School cross country coach Herb Huskey looked at Thursday’s District 51 Championship races at Palisade’s Riverbend Park a bit differently.
“We’ve been hard on these kids,” Huskey said. “They’ll tell you, we’ve never hit the hills so quick and the hard stuff so quick.
“Now we’re at the tail end of the season, we’ve got a great course, it’s so beautiful here, where they can let it ride and have fun with it and know that all their hard work paid off.”
Although the Wildcats had plenty of fun, the payoff also came in trophy form.
Sophomore Chuck Bisbee won the boys race by nearly 15 seconds and both the Fruita boys and girls won the team titles.
In the boys race, Bisbee took the lead early and never let up. He finished in 16 minutes, 12.9 second, ahead of Grand Junction’s Charlie Medina, who finished in 16:27.14.
Bisbee said he was optimistic entering the race, which lacked familiar competition, including teammates Kyler Brown, Alex Rico, and Grand Junction’s Greg Eccher, all of whom were resting injuries.
“My goal in the race, at the beginning of the week, was to win it,” Bisbee said. “I knew a couple of guys on my team were hurt, a guy from Junction (Eccher) was hurt, so I knew I had a really good chance coming out here to win it.”
Huskey said the race forced Bisbee to step out of his comfort zone.
“I was impressed with Chuck because he’s never led a race, he’s always just tailed off of Kyler, so that was a big step for him to actually go out and lead a race,” he said.
Palisade’s Anders Van Calcar beat Fruita’s Blaine Wood for third place by .28 second after a sprint to the finish line. Van Calcar finished in 17:09.11, Wood in 17:09.39
Fruita had four runners in the top 10 and scored 36 points. Palisade took second with 46 and Grand Junction had 56 for third. Central took fourth with 149.
Palisade sophomore Katie Mueller trailed early but won the girls championship in 19:48.
“The girl that was in front of me (Fruita’s Michaela Hoffman) was way faster than me at the beginning,” Mueller said. “She was really good, she got me off to a really good start.”
Once Mueller took the lead, it was the runner behind her, Grand Junction’s Trinity Simmons, who had her concerned.
Simmons stayed on Mueller’s heels until the end, when Mueller broke free on a sprint to the finish line.
“I was trying to catch up to her,” Simmons said. “I was like, ‘I can catch her, I can catch her,’ and then at the very end I realized I can’t sprint as fast as she can.”
Simmons finished in 19:55, a personal best, and was followed by teammate Samantha Melchor at 20:20.
Fruita’s top finishers were Hoffman, who took fourth in 20:43 and fifth-place finisher Karen Rico in 20:51. Central’s Emily Stull took sixth.
The Wildcats won the team title with 40 points. Grand Junction finished second with 46 and Palisade took third with 71.
Central had only four runners, one short of qualifying in team standings.