Fri Sep 2nd, 2016
Special to the Drum
Garcia, Jr., breaks 20 mins. in debut
Friday morning, August 26, the I-25/Cimarron Street interchange in Colorado Springs was already chaotic enough given its destroyed look, presence of massive construction machinery and winding cone zones, lane shifts, speed decreases for traffic approaching from the west or south.
With competitors and spectators from all over attending that day’s Cheyenne Mountain Stampede, and the general route to the Norris-Penrose Event Center requiring a turn onto a street paralleling the interstate, the situation certainly didn’t decrease drivers’ stress levels much.
But as a passenger riding with his Bayfield Cross-Country teammates, Ignacio’s Elco Garcia, Jr., had his mind set on only the 2016 season’s first race and getting advance knowledge of the route the Class 3A State Championships will follow in late October.
One of three Bobcats running for BHS this fall, Garcia – a freshman – impressed immediately by debuting as the boys’ No. 2, finishing the all-terrain course 38th in 19 minutes, 18.4 seconds. IHS senior Bryan Gram took 112th in 22:48.5 as Bayfield finished 12th in the team standings with 311 points.
Classmate Rachel Cooper was the fourth Lady Wolverine crossing the finish line, clocking 25:51.7, and BHS’ girls took tenth after amassing 244. Coming down from Class 4A this season, Elizabeth H.S. won the Stampede’s team title with the low score of 58, while Alamosa – with four cracking the top-ten – won the 3A boys’ championship with 34 points (second-place Arvada Faith Christian wasn’t close with its 100).
“The kids performed very well – the weather was much better here than it was four years ago – and we had some good things happen,” head coach Josh Walton said. “Sloan (Mazur, a junior) ran an 18:59 – I was very happy with that – and Elco came in about 20 seconds after. We had three kids under 20!”
“Overall it was just a good day.”
Challenges at even higher altitudes await the squad next, starting with the September 3 (9 a.m. start) Lake County Invitational in Leadville, and the 23rd Annual Joe I. Vigil Open at Cattails Golf Course in Alamosa on the 10th (high-school boys’ feature to start 9:20 a.m., girls’ at 10:25).
“Next week’s going to be more of a ‘training’ run,” Walton said, referring to the LCHS Invite. “We want the kids to run really well, but we also realize they’re going to be running at ten thousand feet! It’s going to be more of a … run to prepare them for future races.”
Competing in the Stampede’s Class 2A – odd, given its enrollment of better than 625 – races was Whittier Christian High School from La Habra, California.
With any team’s top three finishers scoring for team purposes (Classes 3A-5A scored crews’ top five), the Heralds placed fifth in the girls’ feature, trailing winners Telluride, and took sixth in the boys’ run – one place behind the Miners, but five behind winners Fort Collins Heritage Christian Academy.