Cross country runners take advantage of extra training

Two weeks ago, high school cross country runners sprinted across the finish line in regional meets, hoping their time was good enough to run at the state cross country meet.

The Fruita Monument boys team, Grand Junction’s Kelsey Slauson and Palisade’s Kevin Martinez were all good enough to run in the state meet Oct. 31.

That is, until Colorado was hit with one of the biggest October snowstorms in recent memory. The course at Fossil Ridge High School had 18 inches of snow dumped on it, and the state cross country meet was pushed back a full week.

“It was almost kind of good,” Fruita Monument coach Herb Huskey said. “It gives us an extra week to work.”

In most sports, athletes wouldn’t want a longer break between events at this point in the season. If an athlete is on a hot streak, they usually are trying to get onto the playing field as much as they can. An exception might be cross country runners.

“We had some kids still recovering from injury, so the rest has been key,” Huskey said.

As far as a change in training, the Wildcats made the mid-week adjustment once they knew the race wasn’t going to happen as planned.

“Last week we were tapering down,” Huskey said. “Once we saw it was canceled, we got a couple more long runs in to prepare.”

Martinez’s coach, Josh Duval, said they also made a few adjustments in their training. Martinez had been on a training regiment that had him prepared to run his fastest time on Oct. 31. The change in date caused a changed in training.

“We had him working on a time table,” Duval said. “We had to make some changes there and had to ease his anxiety because he was ready to go last week.”

Duval said he has no doubts Martinez will be just as excited by the time Saturday rolls around.

“He’s more excited now because it won’t be as cold,” Duval said. “Seeing the weather change, I know he’s happy about that.”

The forecast is clear for the Saturday’s race, but the course at Fossil Ridge High School still has snow on it, Fossil Ridge Athletic Director Ken Denning said.

“Will there be some spots of snow or mud? Maybe,” Denning said. “But if we get some good sun these next couple of days we are feeling like it will be ready.”

Even if the course is a little damp on race day, it will be tested by the eight races, beginning with the Class 2A girls at 9:30 a.m. The Class 5A boys are the last group to run, at 1 p.m.

Martinez will run at 11 a.m. in the 4A boys race, which will be followed by Slauson in the 5A girls race at 11:30 a.m.

Huskey said the Wildcats won’t mind if the course is a little beat up by the time they run.

“They would probably enjoy it because they are used to running in the desert,” Huskey said. “They like the muddy, hiking part, so I don’t think it would hinder our kids at all.”


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