Burton leads Mancos with 1st cross-country title

Justin Burton runs at the Pagosa Springs Cross-Country Classic on Saturday. He won the boys race in 19 minutes, 23 seconds for his first career win. Enlargephoto

Photo courtesy of Brenda Burton

Justin Burton runs at the Pagosa Springs Cross-Country Classic on Saturday. He won the boys race in 19 minutes, 23 seconds for his first career win.

Justin Burton ran hard last Saturday.

The Mancos runner was so fast, he crossed the finish-line first, and 13 seconds ahead of the second-place finisher at the Pagosa Springs Cross-Country Classic.

Burton clocked in at 19 minutes, 23 seconds. The Mancos Bluejays placed fourth as a team.

“Justin Burton has worked very hard this season to make himself a better runner and a team leader. He consistently pushes himself in practice and he is a smart runner,” Mancos coach Brady Archer said. “I am happy for him and I hope this win is something that helps him see how good he can be as the season moves along.”

Over the course of two days, the Mancos cross-country team competed in meets in Ridgway last Friday and in Pagosa Springs. Both races saw a number of successes for Mancos, including the first career cross-country victory for Burton.

On Friday afternoon, Mancos made the trek over Lizard Head Pass to the Ramble at the Reservoir, hosted by Ouray High School inside Ridgway State Park. The meet attracted many local schools, including Montezuma-Cortez High School, but also included Cheyenne Mountain High School from the Front Range.

In the boys’ varsity race, the Bluejays were led by Brandon McKie, who finished the demanding course in 21:42, which was good for 23rd-place. He was followed by Asa Kearns in 31st and a time of 22:33, and Vincent Grego in 44th and a time of 24:54. The varsity boys’ champion was Chuck Bisbee from Fruita-Monument in 19:10. Mancos finished in eighth as a team. The team champion was Cheyenne Mountain, which took first on the girls side as well. The M-CHS boys took seventh.

Dillon Wells grabbed 21st in 21:40 to lead the Panthers. Noteworthy for the Panthers, also, was the emergence of sophomore Chandler Dee and junior Taylor Wilson. Dee showed his love for the hills, powering to his best performance of the season (30th) in 22:33. Wilson finished 43rd in 25:05; he was followed by junior Jonathan Bloedel (45th) in 25:53 and junior Brackin Whiteskunk (47th) in 28:17.

Rachel Demby led the Lady Panther with a 17th-place finish in 25:21. Sophomore Elana Cope had her best race of the season, finishing in 28:09. Junior Abby Lock (47th), freshman Julia Damore (50th) and Amanda Haukeness (67th) rounded out the Lady Panthers finishers. First-timer Sydney Getz showed promise with a 69th-place effort. She was followed by Kelly Abrams, Sage Kramer, and Selena LaPaz. In team scoring, the M-CHS girls totaled 106 points for seventh-place.

“When I saw the hill the runners faced in the race, I was glad that we’ve been putting in some quality hill training this season,” M-CHS coach Paul Koops said. “I’m especially hopeful about the progress and attitudes of some our young talent. Runners like Dee, Demby, Cope and Damore make the future look promising for our team.”

On Saturday morning, only Mancos travelled to Pagosa Springs. Seven teams competed in the annual event that switchbacks its way up a hillside in Pagosa Springs.

The Mancos Lady Bluejays were led by the duo of Kristin Adams and Kia Baikie. They finished in fifth and sixth, and times of 24:32 and 24:33, respectively. They were followed by Maya Bonde, who finished in 28th-place and a time of 32:42. The individual champion was Emily Bryant from Pagosa Springs in a time of 22:05. The team champions were the Pagosa Springs Pirates.

The Mancos boys were led by Burton who, greatly distanced himself from second-place finisher Sumner Erhard (19:36) from Del Norte. Ro Paschal was next across the line for Mancos in 22nd-place at 21:31. He was followed by Nic Archuleta in 31st-place and a time of 23:08, and Zane Goodell in 39th-place with a time of 24:40. The Mancos boys finished in fourth-place behind team champion Pagosa Springs.

“This was a tough weekend from our runners. Both of these courses are notoriously rough,” Archer said. “The Ridgway course included switchbacks going up a hillside and the runners had to climb a set of stairs on the trail before heading back down the hillside. There were cacti along a narrow course, also. The competition was great, though. Brandon had his best looking race of the season. Asa and Vincent were racing in their first varsity competition and really held their own. We only ran part of our team since we had two meets so close together.”

Archer further added.

“At Pagosa, our girls really ran well. One runners, unfortunately, took a wrong turn on the course and had to backtrack a ways to get back on course,” he said. “Our boys had three freshmen running varsity for the first time. Ro, Nic and Zane did a great job pushing themselves on a tough course.”

On Saturday, Mancos High School will host the 15th running of the Chicken Creek Challenge. Mancos expects teams from Utah, New Mexico and Colorado, including M-CHS and Dolores. The event is held at the Chicken Creek Cross-Country Ski Area up County Road 40 near Mancos. The middle school races start at 9 a.m., JV races at 10 and varsity races at 11.

Mancos runners Kristin Adams, Maya Bonde and Kia Baikie take off after the starting gun sounds Saturday at the Pagosa Springs Cross-Country Classic. Enlargephoto

Photo courtesy of Brenda Burton

Mancos runners Kristin Adams, Maya Bonde and Kia Baikie take off after the starting gun sounds Saturday at the Pagosa Springs Cross-Country Classic.

The Mancos cross-country team stands Saturday in Pagosa Springs. From left, Andie Paschal, coach Brady Archer, Zane Willburn, Kia Baikie, Kristin Adams, Maya Bonde, Ro Paschal, Anthony Reiners, Justin Burton and Brandon McKie. Enlargephoto

Photo courtesy of Brenda Burton

The Mancos cross-country team stands Saturday in Pagosa Springs. From left, Andie Paschal, coach Brady Archer, Zane Willburn, Kia Baikie, Kristin Adams, Maya Bonde, Ro Paschal, Anthony Reiners, Justin Burton and Brandon McKie.