4A Region 1: A Battle In The High Country

Battle Mountain High School served at host of the 4A Region 1 Meet on Thursday. The competition was held on the adjacent properties of Homestake Peak School and the Eagle Vail Par 3 Golf Course, the same course that was used for the Husky (Battle Mountain) Invitational back on Labor Day weekend. Several of the schools that competed that day did so with the intent of previewing the course in preparation for yesterday's Regional.  

Thankfully the weather held out, with snow in the evening forecast, as mostly sunny skies, a light wind at times, and temperatures in the low 50's greeted the runners at this picturesque and challenging cross country course.    

This Regional Meet consists of a few front-range schools, but mostly mountain schools.


Boys Race

First off was the boy's race. The early portion of the race took the runners across and around the athletic fields at the school before heading out onto the golf course. The first 800 to 1000 meters were flat before the racers embarked on the gentle, yet steady climb heading up the Southeast fairways of the course.  Nearly the whole race was contested on soft and manicured golf course grass, which while easy on the body, in combination with the 7400 feet of altitude contributed to slower times. Though it was noted that many runners who had competed here in September typically ran 20-30 seconds faster on Thursday than they did on that day. That's to be expected, though, with increased fitness, tapering, and shorter grass on the course this time of year. 

As with back in September, the Glenwood Springs duo of Henry Barth and Gavin Harden promptly moved to the front, followed closely by Central (Grand Junction) teammates David Cardenas and Tyman Smart, along with Evergreen's Colin Szuch and Grahm Tuohy-Gaydos from Green Mountain. Only Harden would fall out of this group by the finish.

Cardenas, the pre-meet favorite, seemed content to allow the pair from Glenwood to set the pace. That is until Barth, who likes to push the pace, threw in a surge up the first climb. Cardenas, who later stated, "I wasn't worried about time today. I was just racing for the win." Thus with Barth's increased tempo Cardenas surged himself to pull alongside Barth for the remainder of the race. 

A contrast in racing styles was taking place behind the two leaders between virtual co-favorites (based on Colorado Milesplit's final coaches poll) Central and Battle Mountain. Central had most of their scoring five in the top twenty from the gun, while the Huskies moved as a fluid pack throughout from their early positions in the thirties and forties.

Barth and Cardenas continued to match strides until roughly 200 meters from the finish, at which time Cardenas threw down the hammer and triumphantly sprinted towards the finish, arms raised. He'd stop the clock at 16:54. Barth came second at 16:58 and then a long gap back to Smart in third at 17:29. Rounding out the top five were Szuch and Tuohy-Gaydos in 17:35 and 17:48 respectively.

Now that Central had two runners across, the question became had Battle Mountain's calm and collected move through the pack been enough to overcome Central's 1-2 punch? The answer: close but not quite.  Battle Mountain's impressive 1-5 split of 33 seconds was not enough to overcome Central's two low sticks, thus Central took the Region with 72 points to 84 for the Huskies.

The other two team qualifiers for state would be the surprising, and late-season-coming-on squad from Golden, with 106 points and Eagle Valley with 116 points.  

Individual state qualifiers (top 15) included the aforementioned Szuch, Tuohy-Gaydos, and Harden, along with Jeremiah Vaille and Max Bonenberger from Summit, and Sean Sands and Will Toppin from Conifer.

Next Page: Blair The Elder and Battle Mountain Reign...