Sprint to the finish nets win for Grand Junction’s Nick Duncan at Bulldog Invitational
Grand Junction High School’s Nick Duncan overcame a large deficit in the final half-mile Friday at the Bulldog Invitational cross-country meet, sprinting past Central senior Jared Leblow to win by two seconds.
Duncan, a senior, won in 16 minutes, 58.12 seconds on the course at Riverbend Park in Palisade, which featured plenty of flat trails to go with its many gradual inclines.
Leblow had a sizeable lead in the final half mile — leading teammate Tyman Smart by 20 yards, with Duncan a little farther back. When Leblow slowed his pace, Duncan took advantage, sprinting to the finish line to pick up the win.
Duncan, who finished fourth at last weekend’s Warrior Invitational, earned his first race victory since the Grand Junction Invitational on Oct. 16 of his junior year.
Smart finished third in 17:05.55, with Grand Junction’s Jed Wilson fourth in 17:07.31. The Tigers won the team title in the three-team race.
Central’s Karla DeLaCruz won the girls race, crossing the finish line in 21:08.28 to win for the second consecutive meet. Teammate Ivory Espinoza (21:32.18) and Palisade’s Christina Chatfield (22:20.99) finished second and third, respectively.
The meet drew only District 51 teams and Rifle, with many teams opting to run at the Delta Pantherfest meet at Confluence Park in Delta, the site of the all-classification regional meet.
Delta sophomore John Ames won the individual title in a 75-runner field, finishing in 16:52.43. Delta freshman Garrison Paniagua was second in 17:02.93. Steamboat Springs freshman Maggi Condon easily won the girls race in 18:58.17. The best finish by an area athlete came from Kaily Firor of Hotchkiss, who was sixth in 20:21.92.
Grand Junction put together a second-half comeback attempt at Greeley West, but the Tigers remained winless in 2016 after their 27-17 loss to the Spartans.
Grand Junction (0-6, 0-1 Longs Peak Conference) trailed 20-7 after three quarters and 14-7 at halftime.
Rifle 52, Battle Mountain 6: The Bears won their Class 3A Western Slope Conference opener emphatically at Bears Stadium. With the victory, Rifle (5-1, 1-0) improved to 36-3 in conference play since the beginning of the 2011 season.
Meeker 52, Grand Valley 6: Jonathan Pena’s touchdown run in the third quarter wasn’t enough for the Cardinals (4-2, 1-1 1A WSC) in a lopsided loss to the unbeaten Cowboys (6-0, 2-0).
Central finished a third consecutive undefeated season in Southwestern League play with its doubleheader sweep at Durango. The Warriors (16-2-1, 8-0 SWL) beat the Demons 23-0 and 21-0 to finish the regular season.
Paonia (13-1, 8-0 2A/1A Western Slope League), the top-ranked team in 2A, rolled to a 25-6, 25-8, 25-16 home victory against Hotchkiss, getting 13 kills and four blocks from McKenna Hartigan.