The Buena Vista track teams both qualified for the state meet for the fifth consecutive time Friday at Rocky Ford.
The Lady Demons won by 1 point over Centauri for their third straight team trophy, led by three Top 5 finishes.
“This is a great reminder that in cross country every runner counts, every surge, every move and every pass can be the difference between one and two,” coach Julia Fuller said.
Zaila Smith defended her individual championship at the same course she won at last year, running to a personal best 18 minutes, 37.5 seconds. She finished more than 2 1/2 minutes over the race runnerup, Jocelyn Jarvies of Centauri’s 21:11.10.
“Going into this regional weekend we knew that Zaila would be running on her own and pushing herself, and that she did,” Fuller said. “She pushed her limits like we haven’t seen before and went on to set a new PR of 18:37. We’re excited to see how that determination and grit can come into play this weekend at state when she’ll be racing against some other great competitors.”
Centuari’s Tayte Hostetter took this with 21:15.11. Molly McMurry was right behind her to take fourth for BV in 21:20:60 and Kadance Kelso took fifth with 21:46.10
Carly Feuss set a PR with 22;45.4 to take 12th in the 56 racer field.
Audrey Johnson was 14th with 22:48.9 and Ella Coates 15th with 23:05.9.
Nate Potner returned to lead the Demons to a fourth-place team qualifier for state by finishing seventh in 17.40, Ben Lague was 19th with 18-17.7 and Zach Dylan set a new PR 18:47.80, then competed in the state mountain bike race in Durango Saturday.
“It’s incredible the way this team has grown over the last 6 years and while we know next year will be a bit smaller group (with 10 runners graduating) we also know that all that they’ve put into building the culture of family and hard work will not be going anywhere,” Fuller said. “They show up each and every day ready to support each other and push each other to be their best on and off the trails.”
Fuller said it was up to the teammates to push and pull each other heading into the state race Oct. 30 at Norris-Penrose Event Center in Colorado Springs.
“While we can count the miles and minutes, hours and days of hard workouts, long-runs, classroom discussions, and morning workouts, a lot of the successes of this team come down to them being a team above all else,” she said. “There’s always hiccups in that, but it will always be the biggest focus in my eyes. If they want to achieve something, they’re going to have to lean into each other to make it happen. They’re all making each other better, and when things get hard or injury happens, they’re still there to lift each other up.
“When we’re at this point in the season we know there’s nothing we can look back and change about our training, but that we simply have the opportunity now to be a team above all else and show up as our best selves on race day,” she said.
This season BV has 10 seniors graduating, three of whom are hoping to continue running at the collegiate level – Zaila Smith, Mallory Salazar and first year runner Ben Lague.
“I have never had such a large group of seniors and it has been a joy to have them. Mallory Salazar, Molly McMurry, Jack Helmke, Sammy Starr and Chris Hutchings are all 4-time XC runners for BVHS,” Fuller said. “It’s always so fun to see how individuals progress through their high school career not only as athletes, but as students and leaders.
“Each of our seniors brings their own qualities to this team that I know will be carried on for seasons to come. I am grateful for this whole group and all they’ve done for this team, and even more excited to see what they’ll do next.”