Lady ’Cats place fifth at Bear Chase 

Ignacio’s Avaleena Nanaeto (95) finished a season-opening 11th overall at Dolores’ Boggy Draw Bear Chase Friday evening, Aug. 20.
Ignacio’s Moriah Ashley (88) finished a season-opening 19th overall at Dolores’ Boggy Draw Bear Chase Friday evening, Aug. 20.
Robert L. Ortiz | The Southern Ute Drum
Robert L. Ortiz | The Southern Ute Drum

11th-place Nanaeto paces Ignacio girls 

 Now-senior Alannah Gomez’s recollection of last year’s Boggy Draw Bear Chase, particularly the atmospheric conditions in which it was held, certainly wasn’t unique amongst her fellow competitors. 

“The heat last year … was so unbearable,” she said Friday evening, Aug. 20, following the Ignacio Lady Bobcats’ return to the Dolores-hosted, season-opening event’s third incarnation.  “It was just dry and … bad last year.  On the uphills it was kind of challenging, and … sometimes (one was) in the heat so it was kind of a killer.” 

But with race-time temperatures barely touching 70 degrees Fahrenheit – or roughly 20 fewer than when the starter’s pistol cracked amidst the forestland in 2020 – despite prevalent sunshine, and with an infrequent, yet pleasant breeze wafting through every now and then, entrants appeared far more relieved to get down to business with Mother Nature in their favor. 

“Absolutely,” agreed head coach Daniel Holley.  “I think as soon as we stepped off the bus, felt how cool it was, saw that the trail was soft – not dusty like it was last year – everybody started to improve … how they felt about the race.” 

Matched at the race in sheer numbers (7) by only 4A Durango, IHS got the 2021 campaign underway with two top-20 efforts and a fifth-place, score-4 tally of 73 points.  The aforementioned Lady Demons, to little surprise, prevailed with a winning low of 21 once non-scoring competitors’ results were excluded, and 1A Monticello, Utah, followed with 48. 

Incredibly able to suit up six runners, the hosting Lady Bears – a program lucky to dress even three individuals last season – racked up a third-place 55, narrowly bettering 2A San Juan Basin League rival Mancos’ 58. 

Senior Avaleena Nanaeto led SJBL’ers Ignacio with an 11th-place time of 26 minutes, 14.32 seconds, and Moriah Ashley crossed the finish line next in 19th with a 27:29.28. 

“I really wasn’t surprised by Moriah.  She had an awesome track season – she was our two-mile and one-mile specialist – so she’s in really good shape,” said Holley.  “And I think she ran about the best that she could for … the first race this season.” 

Sophomore Lauren deKay finished 21st in 27:55.81, and Harmony Reynolds placed 25th in 28:44.86.  Darlyn Lechuga-Mendoza (29:45.92) came in 28th, followed by Gomez (29:46.10) in 29th and Zoey Ashley (30:15.91) in 30th. 

“I was very impressed with Harmony and Darlyn; they really pulled the team together,” Holley said.  “And … .the girls finishing in a pack together?  That was really awesome to see.” 

“Yeah, it wasn’t my best race,” said Gomez, “but I was pushing through … doing my best.  I’ll do better along the way.” 

Durango’s Dewa Ilg won the race in 21:44.22, with Monticello’s Lily Long (22:25.44) her nearest pursuer. 

Up next, Ignacio will travel Friday, Aug. 27, to Cortez’s Parque de Vida for the Montezuma-Cortez Panther Invitational.  Girls’ varsity action is slated to start at 5 p.m., with the boys’ feature to follow. 

“You know, it’s a flat course and it’s in grass,” Gomez noted.  “Last year it was kind of wet, but I feel we can push ourselves and do better.” 

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