Hotchkiss girls look for repeat at state XC

The four Hotchkiss runners who placed in the top 11 last fall at the Class 2A girls cross-country state meet are back.

That means the defending champion rightfully is heavily favored to repeat as champ.

Bulldogs coach Kelly Cowan accepts that, but he said his runners understand this: They still have to run their best races today at the Norris-Penrose Event Center in Colorado Springs to claim the crown.

“That’s a nice feeling to have, knowing you have your team back, but every year you have to go and do your best,” Cowan said. “Other teams change, and teams improve.”

Two Hotchkiss seniors lead the way: Natalie Anderson and Jennifer Celis, who finished third and fourth, respectively, last year at state when the Bulldogs scored 16 points (top three runners are scored).

Sophomores Sophia Schelle, Mae Anderson and Katy Parsons round out the team. Schelle placed 10th and Mae Anderson 11th at state last year.

Celis has been the team’s No. 2 runner all season, but Mae Anderson found another gear at the regional meet a week ago and finished second in 19 minutes, 45.4 seconds, trailing only Natalie Anderson (19:05.6).

“Mae, at the regional, came through and ran her best race ever,” Cowan said.

Placing its three scorers in the top 10 last year was amazing, Cowan said, and he added, “I hope we can do that again.”

Hotchkiss has run all season with the defending-champion target, and Cowan said, “I’ve been happy with the way they’ve run all year.”

Bulldog boys healthy for state

The Hotchkiss boys team also returns to 2A state, where the Bulldogs placed fourth last fall.

Andrew Tiedemann placed 10th at state last year, and the junior leads the way again despite an illness slowing him down for a stretch. Cowan said Tiedemann got sick about a month ago and “just now is getting back to running well.”

Tiedemann showed that at the regional, placing third.

Two other runners are back from last year’s state team: juniors Tyrell Clock and Bryce Homme, the Bulldogs’ Nos. 2 and 3 runners this year.

Paonia boys meet challenge

He didn’t take anything for granted, but Paonia coach Richard Hypio expected his girls team to qualify for the 2A state meet. And they did it easily. Led by senior Taylor Polson, a four-time state qualifier who finished third in the region, the Eagles ran a strong second behind Hotchkiss at the regional.

His boys team, however, had a greater challenge. Conceding Crested Butte, Telluride and Hotchkiss would take the top three spots, the Eagles needed to finish fourth in the 10-team region, and Ouray and Mancos had eyes on the same prize.

“Our goal for boys was just to get there,” Hypio said of state. “The boys, pretty much everyone had to run a PR to get there, and they did. It was great.”

Paonia finished with 45 points, one ahead of Ouray and two ahead of Mancos.

Jason Sturgis led the way, finishing sixth individually, and Hypio believes Sturgis can crack the top 10 at state. After Sturgis, Tim Helmer, Jesse Reed and Zach Milner placed 19th, 20th and 21st, respectively, with Helmer finishing five seconds ahead of Milner. Their performance was the key to getting the team to state, Hypio said.


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