Friendly rivals: Krieg beats Anderson at Anna Banana Invitational

Photo by Gretel Daugherty—Moffat County’s Chris Zirkle, right, crosses the tape to finish first in 15 minutes, 52 seconds, a few steps ahead of his teammate Alfredo Lebron during the boys cross country race at the Anna Banana Invitational held Saturday at Connected Lakes State Park.

Grand Valley’s Brandi Krieg, center, and Hotchkiss’ Natalie Anderson, right, were once again the pacesetters, finishing first and second, respectively, Saturday at the Anna Banana Invitational at Connected Lakes State Park.

When the girls cross-country teams from Hotchkiss and Grand Valley high schools are in the same race, it goes without saying who’s going to be setting the pace.

Grand Valley senior Brandi Krieg and Hotchkiss freshman Natalie Anderson have traded victories this season, and Saturday at the Anna Banana Invitational at Connected Lakes State Park, the Cardinals’ Krieg got the best of Anderson, finishing first in 18 minutes, 31 seconds.

Anderson was second in 18:54.

“(Natalie) is a really strong runner for a freshman, and I was planning on letting her set the pace,” Krieg said. “Almost every meet we’ve had, she’s been there.”

Krieg finished sixth in last year’s Class 3A state meet, and said it’s been exciting being pushed by Anderson this season.

“It’s hard to (get a personal record) when you are running by yourself,” Krieg said. “But when you have someone you can pace with it, it makes it better.”

Anderson defeated Krieg at last weekend’s Hotchkiss Invitational, and said Krieg hinted both runners would have a good day at Connected Lakes.

“She said we were both going to break 19 (minutes) and we did that,” Anderson said. “I’ve been trying to break 19 minutes for the last year and a half so I’m excited I did today.”

The competition has brought out the best in each other. Anderson said they usually stay together for the first half of the race.

“We stick together for the first mile or mile and a half and from there it’s whoever is doing the best that day,” Anderson said. “I love running with Brandi because it’s always back and forth and we are pushing each other.”

Krieg and Anderson will see one another Oct. 16 at the Montrose relays before meeting again Oct. 23 at the regional meet in Cortez.

“Having her to race with has been really motivating,” Anderson said. “It’s helped me because I know there is going to be someone pushing me.”

Grand Junction’s Kelsey Slauson was the top finisher of the District 51 schools, finishing ninth in 20:19.

Slauson said her season’s been going well, and she’s worked on not worrying about the results.

“I have to learn how to not get caught up in the final results,” Slauson said. “I’ve been working on letting it go and shooting for a personal best instead of trying to worry about what the others are doing.”

Palisade’s Katie Muellen finished 17th in 21:03. Right behind her was Fruita Monument’s Sarah Horen, who came in 18th in 21:06.

Central’s top runner was Emma Beckstead, who finished 37th in 21:53.

Hotchkiss finished atop the girls team scores with 90 points.

On the boys side, Moffat County’s Chris Zirkle and Alfredo Lebron finished first and second, respectively, to propel the Bulldogs to the title with 81 points.

Both runners turned in sub-16-minute times, with Zirkle finishing in 15:52 and Lebron in 15:53.

“The course was really fast,” Zirkle said. “I was really happy with what I got.”

Fruita’s Kyler Brown finished sixth in 16:54.

Brown, a sophomore, had a personal record of 30 seconds better than his previous top time.

“I knew the course and really wanted to break it,” Brown said. “I wanted to get 17 (minutes) and that’s what was going on in my mind.”

The Wildcats’ Alex Rico finished 11th in 17:07 and Greg Eccher was Grand Junction’s top runner at 17:09, good for 12th overall.

Greg Tarman led Palisade with a time of 18:25, 37th overall, and Central’s Erik Newhouse finished 40th in 18:29.


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