Athletes run Ancient Trails

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

Rachel Demby takes off to an early lead for the Lady Panthers Saturday in the Ancient Trails Invitational cross-country race at the Montezuma County Fairgrounds. Back are Julia Damore (493), Abby Lock, Kia Baikie (476) and Kristin Adams (477).

By Bobby Abplanalp Journal staff writer

It was a sunny Saturday morning with a slight breeze in the upper 60s.

A perfect day for running.

Rachel Demby took advantage of good weather and ran to a fourth-place finish at the eight-school Ancient Trails Invitational cross-country meet at the Montezuma County Fairgrounds.

The speedy sophomore clocked in at 23 minutes, seven seconds.

“I trained really hard over the summer and it just paid off. I’m really happy with how I did,” Demby said. “(I was) just going out everyday in the summer, working hard. Even the days that I don’t want to run. You got to get out there and push yourself.”

Demby was happy to be running at her home course.

“I know this course really well,” said Demby with a laugh.

She led a trio of Montezuma-Cortez High School Lady Panthers in the race. Julia Damore and Abby Lock each finished in 19th and 22nd at 26:02.95 and 26:44.47, respectively.

“She’s among the best in the state. It’s just fun to watch her,” M-CHS coach Paul Koops said about Demby. “She’s running really well right now. She’s doing everything right; working really hard, dedicated, committed, practices hard, everything you want. I think she has a shot at possibly qualifying for state.”

Bayfield’s EvaLou Edwards won the girls race in 19:09.61, which helped her team to the championship with 23 points. Utah’s Monticello and Monument Valley finished second and third.

Koops wasn’t able to field a full Panthers squad due to some injuries. But Dillon Wells (15th), Taylor Wilson (30th) and Brackin Whiteskunk (38th) ran to times of 19:57.54, 22:19.67 and 25:22.75.

“Dillon had a little problem when he got up on the hill up there. He hadn’t used his (asthma) inhaler and kind of ran his battery down a little bit,” Koops said. “His time today was disappointing to him. It wasn’t as well as he can run.”

Mancos made the short bus ride to the fairgrounds.

The Bluejays were led by Ro Paschal in seventh-place and a time of 19:27. He was followed by Brandon McKie (17th) and Asa Kearns (20th) in 20:04 and 20:09. Nic Archuleta sprinted to a 29th-place time of 22:00 in helping his team to a fourth-place finish.

“We ran well in these races on the boys side, considering a usual No. 1 runner has been sick and injured this week,” Mancos coach Brady Archer said. “Brandon McKie and the rest of the team, which is all freshmen, have really had to step up and meet the challenge of being without Justin Burton. They have done a good job of getting better every race and that is great to see, as we head into these last few weeks of the season.”

Trevor Gabbard, of Bayfield, won the boys race in a time of 18:02. Monticello won the boys team championship.

The Lady Bluejays were led by both Kristin Adams (24:42.02) and Kia Baikie (24:42.51) in 11th and 12th.

“The girls continue to learn and get better each week,” Archer said. “It is nice to have Kia and Kristin racing together now. I think they both push each other to get better.”

Dolores ran three girls in the junior varsity race, as the school’s inaugural year of cross-country continues. Kayla Charles (sixth), Regan Umberger (eighth) and Hayley Lee (11th) finished at times of 26:12.28, 27:41.11 and 30:31.22.

“It’s fun. I’ve been kind of easy with them, in terms of mileage. It should really help us down the road,” said coach Nick Kohler, who also coaches the Dolores track and field team. “For the first year, I don’t want to injure anybody and get them scared. But they’ve handled it well. They’re getting better every single week.”

Starting up a new sports program is indeed a work in progress.

“Most places we go, we can’t score as a team because we don’t have enough kids to score,” said Kohler, who had pushed the Dolores school board 10 years to add cross-country to its athletic department. “The kids come out and run, they go home, they go back to school and tell the kids how much fun they had. Hopefully, that will attract a couple more and a couple more, and the next thing you know, we have us a decent sized team.”

Mancos and Dolores will travel to the Eric Wolff Invitational in Monte Vista on Friday at 9 a.m., for the last regular season meet before the Regional Meet in Delta on Wednesday, Oct. 17.

M-CHS will take this week off to prepare for Regionals at Delta’s Connected Lakes Park.

“We’re going to run at home this week to get recharged for Regionals,” Koops said. “We’re going to use this week strictly for practice and fine tune some things before we head to Delta.”

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