4A Region 1: A Battle In The High Country

Joslin Blair was the runaway victor.

Girls Race

The girl's race featured some of the state's fastest girls, regardless of classification.  Heading directly to the front from the gun were the sisters Blair, Joslin Blair and Samantha Blair, from Eagle Valley and freshman-phenom Lanie Szuch of Evergreen. Also in tow was Maggi Congdon of Steamboat Springs, who won here back in September.

Battle Mountain, the host, pre-meet favorite, defending state champion, and reigning 3rd place NXN team, also was prominently situated with their five scorers staked out near the front.

Joslin Blair, who stated post-race, that her strategy behind pushing the early pace was to, "take the kick out of the others." Thus, on the downhill fairway just before the mile mark she began to achieve separation from Szuch, and the other freshman-phenom in the race, her sister Samantha.  

Coming back into view after a half-mile jaunt on the far West end of the course, Joslin Blair was alone in the front, Samantha Blair was second, Szuch and Congdon and fallen off, but Battle Mountain's Naomi Harding was charging hard. In fact, it looked like she might be able to gather in the leader heading back into the hills approaching the two-mile mark.

Blair regrouped on the downhill heading back out to the isolated West end of the course. She maintained her lead coming back into view for the final 800 meters. Thus the race was for second between Samantha Blair and Harding.  

Joslin Blair was victorious in a time of 19:30. The final 100 meters saw Harding ahead of Samantha Blair, then Samantha appeared to pull ahead 20 meters out. However a photo-finish lean gave second place to Harding, 19:39.10 - 19:39.20. 

Following those three, the Battle Mountain onslaught was on, as Lizzy Harding and Grace Johnson placed fourth and fifth, along with  Elliot Pribramsky in eighth and Emma Reeder in eleventh to complete their scoring at a paltry 30 points.

In a critical and crucial late race turn of events, Condon fought her way back into the thick of things passing a few runners in the final leg. Most importantly, however, was her sprint past Szuch for sixth place in the last twenty meters. More on that in a moment.

Green Mountain, led by Kasey Klocek's ninth place finish, ended up in second with 98 points. Eagle Valley, led by the Blair sisters and Avery Doan in tenth, took third with 110. Congdon's dramatic finish ultimately was a two-point swing and provided the Sailors with a mere one point margin (124-125) over Szuch's Evergreen squad, thus qualifying Steamboat for the State Meet.

With Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley's up front dominance, only three girls qualified individually. Lanie Szuch, of course, along with Rachel Goodrich of Golden and Abbey Putz from Conifer.