Teams run as a group at District 51 ChampionshipsNew Cal 2 column format

Grand Junction’s Charlie Medina, left, and Greg Eccher hold hands Thursday as they cross the finish line together at the District 51 Championships at Riverbend Park. Medina was awarded the win.

Palisade’s Greta Van Calcar won the girls race, but was frustrated that the Grand Junction and Fruita teams ran together.

About two miles into the course, Palisade’s Greta Van Calcar finally looked behind.

There was teammate Katy Moeller, a few paces back.

She turned a corner, then looked again. A little farther back, Grand Junction was lined up together, followed by a group of Fruita Monument runners.

What was going on?

“It was kind of frustrating,” said Van Calcar, a freshman. “Like, ‘Come on, this is a race, not team jogging.’ “

She pushed ahead anyway, winning the District 51 Championships cross country girls race at Palisade’s Riverbend Park with a time of 20 minutes, 22.48 seconds on the 5-kilometer course. Moeller was second in 21:04.47.

More than one minute behind were Grand Junction’s top five runners, taking third through seventh, led by Sam Melchor in third (22:27.15).

Fruita Monument, with the exception of Palisade’s Kyauna Martinez, who placed ninth, took the eighth through 14th spots.

Running in groups and sometimes not going 100 percent was a strategy some used to save energy for the Class 4A regional Wednesday at Confluence Park in Delta or the Class 5A regional Thursday at Clement Park in Littleton.

Grand Junction won the boys and girls races Thursday.

Palisade placed three runners in the top nine, but because it had only four runners, it could not qualify as a team — five are needed. Likewise, the Central girls fielded two runners.

“It’s not possible to give 100 percent mentally and physically every single week,” Tigers coach Kim Dobson said. “It’s just too much. I think just giving 90 percent today set them up well for regionals.”

The boys race also featured more brotherly love than competition. Coming into the final stretch, Grand Junction’s Charlie Medina and Greg Eccher were side by side.

But their faces were not balled-up in exertion. Maybe thirty yards from the finish line, neither pulled away from the other. Then a shock: A few paces before the finish-line tape, they held hands, raised them up into a “V” and crossed the finish line simultaneously.

Palisade coach Tim Reetz said he asked Medina and Eccher who finished first.

“They said they didn’t know,” Reetz said.

And so in random fashion, Medina was given the first-place spot with a time of 17:00.89 and Eccher second with 17:01.09.

Perhaps it was the way it should have been. Eccher, a junior, said the two are like brothers, and this being Medina’s senior season and final local race, they wanted to finish together.

“We’re like best friends, and we do everything together, especially in track,” Eccher said.

But Medina was not emotional about his final in-town race.

“Not really,” he said. “I’m not an emotional guy.”

The course featured a pair of obstacles. First, about a half-mile in, runners had to leap over a log stretched across the path.

About one mile later, runners had to jump over a row of hay bales.

“I barely got over it,” Eccher said. “I scraped it with my foot.”

“I hit it with the tip of my shoe,” Medina said.

But Eccher and Medina managed to remain side by side, outlasting teammate Sam Videlock, who placed third in 17:59.92, as well as Fruita Monument’s Kenton Brown, who took fourth place in 18:02.29, and Chuck Bisbee, who finished fifth in 18:02.96.


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