Mavs’ Skarda finally beats dad to finish line in Pre-RMAC invite

ALEXIS SKARDA TRIED OUT THE COURSE for the RMAC Championships during the Pre-RMAC Invitational on Saturday. The freshman finished second and beat her father, Dan, for the first time in a race longer than a mile.

Alexis Skarda had a memorable first collegiate cross country race, but not necessarily because of her time.

It was memorable because the Mesa State College freshman beat her dad to the finish line Saturday in the Mesa State Pre-RMAC Invitational on a desert course north of Grand Junction.

Skarda finished the 6K second in 22 minutes, 24 seconds. Dan Skarda placed fourth in 23:38.

“It’s been my goal my whole life,” Alexis Skarda said with a little laugh.

No other college teams accepted Mesa State’s invitation to the meet, which coach Gig Leadbetter thought would attract some RMAC teams to get a look at the course for the conference championships next month.

So, the Mavericks invited area runners, and the Mesa Monument Striders — and Skarda’s father — joined them for the run.

Skarda’s been running with her dad for years now, but Dan Skarda, a former U.S. Olympic Trials qualifier, has managed to stay ahead of her — until now.

“She recently passed me up,” Dan Skarda said. “This killed me. She’s beat me in the mile, but this is the first time in a 5K to 6K.”

Alexis led the Mavericks with her second-place finish, 19 seconds behind the winner, Scott Olson.

“There is a hard hill in the beginning,” Alexis Skarda said. “I took it slow. After that, it gradually goes down. I tried to pick up the pace and keep it on the flat part of the course. I wanted to catch (Olson).

“It’s a tough course. It’s challenging, but it’s a good advantage to train on it for the RMAC Championships.”

The Mavericks host the RMAC Championships on Oct. 25.

“We found out this is a challenging, tough course,” Mesa State coach Gig Leadbetter said. “It has a good hill and a lot of windy up-and-down sections. There was also a little wind the runners had to run into.

“The Striders thought it was challenging. They loved it. They were so fantastic. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate them. They are so passionate about running.”

Olson, a Mesa State College student and Grand Junction High School graduate, took first in 22:05.

“I heard about it from the Monument Striders newsletter,” Olson said. “I thought it would be good to get some speed work in and cheer on the Mesa State team.”

Olson is preparing for the Golden Leaf Half Marathon next weekend in Aspen.

Mesa State junior Esmeralda Martinez-Ramos finished third in 23:27 despite battling a cold. Paula Bruzewski placed fifth in 23:50. Ali Poppe took eighth and Samantha Hentosh was ninth.

“I like that,” Leadbetter said. “It shows good depth. (Freshmen) Cecilia Garcia and Kelsey Follett would’ve been in there with our top four runners.”

Garcia and Follett didn’t run because of injuries.

Leadbetter hopes Garcia and Follett will be able to run in the Mavericks’ next meet, the CU Shootout in Boulder, in two weeks.

Follett and Skarda are looking forward to seeing how they measure up against some of the best competition in the region.

“I’m excited to race against other teams,” Skarda said. “I still had pre-race jitters. Everyone ran so good.

We’ll definitely make it to nationals. A couple of the girls are sick, so we can do even better.”


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