Wildcats benefit from running as a pack in varsity cross country
For the Fruita Monument High School boys cross country team, making it into the seven varsity spots is not an easy task.
The Wildcats have six seniors and one sophomore filling the varsity roster spots, and on any given outing, any of the seven could be leading the pack.
“They have put in the work, and every time they practice they impress us as coaches,” Fruita Monument coach Herb Huskey said. “These guys are good because they put in the work.”
At the front is senior Woody Seagren, who finished 90th at the state meet last year. Seagren is surrounded by talented upperclassmen like James Mauch, John Zamora, John Kolb, Tyler McDermott, Keenan Widhammer and Alex Rico.
But, Huskey said, the options don’t drop off after that.
“I can go 10-12 guys deep,” Huskey said. “I have guys chomping at their heels, and there is maybe 30 seconds difference between the number eight, nine and 10 guys.”
Huskey said the competition among the seven varsity runners helps keep the times low.
“They keep pushing each other, and the times are very impressive throughout,” Huskey said.
“There are guys who want to be a part of that crew, so you can imagine personnel-wise that they are a great group.”
The excitement is there, and the goals have been set. Huskey said he sees it as a realistic goal for the group to finish in the top 10 during the state championship race at the end of October.
“They want to be somewhere in the top 10 at state,” Huskey said. “With us running as deep as we are, I think they will be able to achieve it.”
The Wildcats run today at the Pre-State Invitational in Fort Collins.
“We can get sized up right away on what our abilities are,” Huskey said. “It’s a good way to see everyone right off the bat.”
The Wildcats girls team will be led by Olivia Daniels and Kasey Mortensen. Jenn Campbell and Shelby Mixon will provide solid depth to the team.
“One of their goals is they want to place high in a lot of the local races,” Huskey said. “It’s been a while since they have made it over the hump, and they want to get back to state.”
The other three cross country teams in the valley have the potential to be strong, beginning with Grand Junction. The Tigers are tough at the top on both the girls and boys teams. Wyatt Colloty and Kevin Martin will lead the boys team with Kelsey Slauson and Margeaux Prinster setting the pace for the girls.
Both Central and Palisade have new coaches this fall, with Josh Duval taking over the Bulldogs’ program.
Numbers are up for Palisade, and Duval said he has enough runners to be able to score as a team. Kevin Martinez emerged early as the leader on the boys team, with Auelicia Guzman leading the girls.
Palisade runs with Grand Junction at today’s Delta Invitational.
Central’s new coach is Megan Mertes, and its top runners are Daniel Russell for the boys and Emma Beckstead for the girls.