2016 Colorado State XC 4A Girls: Battle Mountain Rises Highest

In complete command of the race with 200 meters to go, Maria Mettler heads toward home. Photos by Alan Versaw.

For the longest time this season, it appeared that 4A Girls would end up as another triumph for the Air Academy girls, fresh off the school's first cross country team title in 2015. The Kadets had a solid influx of freshman talent, and early season indicators pointed solidly in their direction.

But the Battle Mountain team refused to fold. Quite the contrary, the Huskies seemed to get better with every meet. The return of Naomi Harding following a preseason injury dumped fuel on the Battle Mountain fire.

By the time of the final coaches poll of the season, the Huskies had made believers of quite a few coaches around the state.

But, there was still that little matter of getting past Air Academy. Nobody in 4A had done that all season. And, most especially, nobody had done it while losing one of their top runners in the middle of the race.

Lizzy Harding, who has been a mainstay for Battle Mountain all season, succumbed to an illness that had plagued her all season, collapsed, and dropped out of the race with about a quarter mile to go. She had been running in the top ten throughout the first half of the race.

Never mind all that, Battle Mountain had enough in reserves to push their way through to the top. Elizabeth Constien and Naomi Harding got things going with a 2-3 finish. Alex Raichart was next in 17th. Freshman Grace Johnson was next in 46th, while Kaela Fahrney closed out the scoring in 50th (42 team points). 

And, although Battle Mountain bled some points along the way of the 5000 meter circuit, nobody was ever near close enough to make the Huskies pay for it. It was a solid piece of domination that might easily have been bigger even than it was.

The six standing Battle Mountain girls paraded the trophy to where medical personnel were attending to Lizzie Harding, just to make sure she got in on the celebration a little as well.

For Air Academy, Maria Mettler took the individual title, but 18:31, 28 seconds ahead of Constien. But, the good news more or less hit the brakes after that. The next Kadets to finish were Ella Urschel and Mackenzie Moss in 37th and 38th. Tatum Miller, who has been nipping at Mettler's heels all season, finished fifth in the Kadet order.

The final tally left Air Academy with 130 points and Battle Mountain with 98. Palmer Ridge had 132. Pine Creek, running without injured varsity regular Sarah Bassett, would end up fourth at 133. How much did the Eagles feel the loss of Bassett? If you project Bassett into her usual place in the Pine Creek order, the Eagles win the state meet. That's how much.

Sport is all about breaks--good and bad--and how you respond to them. On this day, Battle Mountain's response to the breaks was the best.

The freshmen who had been lighting up the 4A scene all season long took a bit of a back seat to the more experienced girls on Saturday. There were still four freshmen in the top ten, led by Thompson Valley's Kenadi Krueger in fourth, and six in the top 14, but the biggest stories of the day belonged to those who had run this course before.

Maria Mettler Interview

Naomi Harding and Val Constien Interview


Get all of MileSplit's hottest content delivered to your email inbox! 

Don't miss any breaking news, rankings, feature stories, event updates, or more. Sign up for the MileSplit mailing list today!