Eccher paces Tigers to title in Anna Banana Memorial
In a sense, he prepared for Saturday’s Anna Banana Memorial cross country race on Friday night, helping tug a chariot across the Stocker Stadium turf.
“I was like a horse, I guess,” Greg Eccher said.
The five Grand Junction High School juniors, which included Eccher, lost to the seniors in that homecoming event during halftime of the Grand Junction football game. But on Saturday, Eccher placed third in the boys 5-kilometer race to help the Tigers win the boys division.
He was no longer pulling a chariot. Quite the opposite. He was cruising solo on one of the flattest cross-country courses of the high school season at Connected Lakes State Park.
Eccher finished in 16 minutes, 13.1 seconds, and teammate Charlie Medina took fifth place in 16:26.6. Rangely’s William Scoggins won the race with a 16:03.2. Fruita Monument’s Chuck Bisbee took second, running a personal record 16:11.9.
Grand Junction placed five runners in the top 50 — Sam Videlock took 20th (17:09.7), Joseph Crawford 43rd (17:55.5) and Parker Davis-McDougal 50th (17:59.6).
Meanwhile, Grand Junction head coach Kim Dobson won the women’s division of the citizen race, also a 5K, in 17:41.2. She placed seventh overall.
“This all supports the hard work they’ve done to improve,” Dobson said, “and it shows the pain they’ve endured is paying off.”
Dobson hopes the Tigers’ times peak for their regional Oct. 18 at Clement Park in Littleton.
And Bisbee is starting to peak as well. He said he hadn’t had the best races lately, but his 16:11.9 is a boost.
For Bisbee, as it is with many runners, it’s been a matter of being mentally confident.
“It’s OK to feel pain,” Bisbee said. “That’s the hardest thing to learn in running. It’s OK to hurt. ... It only hurts so bad, and then it doesn’t get any worse.”
Greeley West won the girls division with 99 points, winning a tiebreaker over Battle Mountain.
Hotchkiss placed third as Natalie Anderson (19:02.2) took eighth, Jennifer Celis 11th (19:42.6) and Mae Anderson 21st (20:25.3).
Delta twins Clarissa and Cleo Whiting placed in the top five. Clarissa took second in 18:37.5. Cleo placed fifth in 18:53.4.
The twins decided beforehand, however, that Clarissa would let Cleo win. But with one caveat — if Clarissa was feeling it, she was free to pull away. So she did.
“It didn’t make me feel bad,” Cleo told Clarissa, “because if you’re up, I don’t want you to think about it.”
Bayfield’s EvaLou Edwards won the girls race in 17:48.3.
Twenty-three teams and about 400 junior varsity and varsity runners participated in the 10th anniversary of the tournament that was named for Anna Lee Janowitz, who in 2002 as a junior at Fruita Monument High School died in an automobile accident.
The $25 fees from the citizen’s race went toward the Anna Lee Foundation (http://www.annaleefoundation.org), which gives District 51 high school cross-country and track and field athletes opportunities for college scholarships.
Race volunteers also sold turquoise Anna Banana T-shirts. On the back was an outline symbolic of Anna Lee Janowitz, an angel fused with a banana, hair pulled up.
“She always wore it up,” said Diana Janowitz, mother of Anna Lee, “because she didn’t have to fix it. It was the easiest place for it to go.”