Running Mount Garfield gets Palisade XC team ready for rigors of season
Aside from peaches, it’s an overwhelming part of Palisade’s identity — Mount Garfield.
To some it’s majestic, maybe a bit plain to others, but the first quarter of the mountain has provided the Palisade High School cross country team with the perfect training grounds.
The three trails the team uses on the south face gain about 2,000 feet of elevation in two miles. Running 50- to 200-meter repetitions on different parts of the mountain is how the Bulldogs built up strength for the first half of the season.
And now Palisade’s boys team is the first boys or girls cross country team to qualify for state in at least 16 years, according to Palisade Athletic Director Mike Krueger.
Thanks to you, Mount Garfield,
“We run to it, run it and run back down from it,” Palisade coach Tim Reetz said. “I’d say eight of 10 runners say it’s their best workout.”
As Palisade’s runners prepare for the Class 4A state cross country meet Saturday at the Norris Penrose Event Center in Colorado Springs, here’s what the Bulldogs had to say about the mountain:
■ Junior Daniel Ness said the worst experience he’s had on the mountain was “running it.” And the best? “Finishing it.”
Ness, who took 31st at the regional meet, is in Palisade football coach John Arledge’s first-hour weights class, too.
“I remember years back they hardly had anybody go out for the team,” Arledge said. “I think the community feels the cross country kids do a great job and want them to do well.”
■ “It’s a pretty intense workout,” senior Ryan Schoeber said. “Every time we run it, it pushes us.”
■ Senior Justin Ray said it’s the worst hill you’ll ever run. “So any race they have,” he said, “is nothing in comparison.”
■ “I like finishing the workout,” sophomore Monty Metzler said. “I don’t like the workout. It feels like somebody set your legs on fire.”
■ Sophomore Gary Honda said Palisade has an advantage on hills races, thanks to Mount Garfield.
“Because whenever you do a hill race,” he said, “you picture Mount Garfield, and it makes it a lot easier.”
■ Anders Van Calcar, who placed 12th at regionals and was the Bulldogs’ highest regional placer, began hopping up and down when asked about the 6,765-foot elevation mountain. “I freaking love Mount Garfield,” said Van Calcar, a junior. “It’s my all-time favorite workout.”
And it all goes back to Coach Reetz pushing his team.
“And he pushed us to get better in the offseason,” senior Shane Sarnac said. “He told us to just get together and run and have the team-bonding experience.”
Forget peaches and cream.
Around here, it’s peaches and Garfield.
“It symbolizes who we are,” Sarnac said. “Peaches and Mount Garfield.”
The Palisade boys will have company from two Bulldogs girls runners. Freshman Greta Van Calcar finished seventh at the regional, and sophomore Katy Mueller was 14th, earning state berths, which go to the top five teams and top 15 individuals from each region.
Montrose, whose boys and girls teams each placed fifth at regionals to qualify for the 4A state meet, have an early season strength-training site, too — the Flat Top trail systems and the Cerro Summit, just east of Montrose.
“We go out and run the old railroad bed,” Montrose coach Brian Simpson said.
The work paid off. Simpson said Dana Shellhorn’s time of 19 minutes, 11 seconds at the regional meet, where she placed 10th, was the fastest girls time in school history.
He said the old record was 19:14, set by Teresa Haggard in 1983.