Ignacio sophomore Alyssa Atencio (16) runs during the first mile of Mancos' 2023 Chicken Creek Challenge Saturday, Sept. 30. She placed 43rd in the high-school girls' race.
Ignacio freshman Thunder Windy Boy (97) runs during the second mile of Mancos' 2023 Chicken Creek Challenge Saturday, Sept. 30. He placed 48th in the high-school boys' race; the Bobcats would finish third as a team.
Photo Credit: Joel Priest | Special to Drum
Photo Credit: Joel Priest | Special to Drum
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Chicken Creek Challenge tests IHS harriers

Burcham third in Mancos-hosted boys’ race 

Narrow as the Chicken Creek Challenge’s ridge-like home stretch is, three runners began their kick towards the finish-line funnel almost at the same time early Saturday afternoon, Sept. 30. 

Two of them – one wearing an Ignacio uniform – made for a most dramatic finish. 

Emerging into the sunny clearing to fans’ enthusiastic cheers, Blanding (Utah) San Juan senior Edward Lyman expanded his stride enough to separate and clock a winning time of 18 minutes, 56.62 seconds. And though younger brother Abram couldn’t keep pace, the Bronco junior was more concerned with IHS freshman Cayson Burcham, attempting to place as high up as possible. 

Having run out front and alongside the elder, lengthy Lyman for the majority of the race, Burcham very nearly finished second but lost out by one long step as Abram Lyman posted a 19:03.24 to edge Burcham’s even 19:04. 

“Cayson ran really strong,” said IHS head coach Karri McCarter. “And that was his goal, to run with Edward – when they came past me, in the last part of the race, they were shoulder-to-shoulder for the most part. But Edward’s strength, his height and his hard work – for four years – paid off; he pulled away from Cayson and his brother.” 

Bucham’s effort led the Bobcats to an adjusted score-4 total of 50 points, and third place in the event’s team standings. Aided by sophomore Noah Begay’s fourth-place 19:21.65, SJHS totaled a winning low of 14 points while Monticello (Utah) – led by senior Jesse Pettit’s fifth-place 19:30.24 – accumulated a runner-up 47. Bayfield (61) and Dolores (75) rounded out the top five. 

Ignacio’s second runner in, sophomore James Martin finished 14th overall in 20:07.06, and senior Phillip Quintana clocked 20:34.99 and took 20th. Sophomore Trace Crane (20:49.26) and freshman Judah Ashley (20:51.22) soon crossed consecutively, placing 22nd and 23rd, and senior Corey Gomez (21:04.39) came in 26th. 

“That little pack, James to Judah, they’re starting to run really tight,” McCarter said. “Everybody had a really good race.” 

Sophomore Dillon Brann (22:00.71) placed 38th, freshman Thunder Windy Boy (23:07.95) 48th, and sophomore Greg Walker (24:46.51) 61st out of 82 finishers. 

In the preceding high-school girls’ feature, which counted 49 finishers, Ignacio senior Lauren deKay finished 24th in 29:00.28, while sophomore Alyssa Atencio took 43rd in 34:08.58. 

“Lauren’s struggled the past two years with ankle injuries, so she does really well out on the course with, at times, severe ankle strains. But she continues to run!” beamed McCarter. “And Alyssa’s goal, again, is to be in really good shape for basketball season – and she’s getting into fantastic shape. Both those girls are running really well.” 

Powered by the 1-2-3 finish of juniors Marah Long (22:49.51), Lilli Burton (23:03.72) and Ayla Carling (23:27.86), Monticello captured first place with a winning low of 22 points. Led by freshman Brittany Jensen, fifth overall in 23:50.88, San Juan followed with 41 points, and meet-hosting Mancos earned third with 59 – one point better than Dolores (60). 

Junior Teagan Archer was the Lady Jays’ top finisher; she placed fourth in 23:37.84. 

“We’ve had kind of a tough season, with some injuries and other things that have come up. So to finish third today…was nice to see,” said MHS head coach Brady Archer. “We talked about how our home meet is always special to us, so in just trying to go out and put on a good show for the crowd that was here…they did an excellent job.” 

“Sometimes we have smaller meets, but this year’s ended up being a little larger than what we’re used to,” he noted. “And that was…just incredible, that turnout, coming to a small-school meet like this up in the mountains. Schools that come back every year…just love this area – I think that’s special for all of us in Mancos.” 

Up next, IHS will journey east to Colorado Springs for Class 5A Air Academy’s Kadet Invitational on Friday, October 6. At present, the ’Cats are scheduled to then have a week off in order to best prepare for the 10/20 2A-Region IV Championships – to be held on Dolores’ Boggy Draw course, with Telluride the designated ‘host’ school. 

Which made the Challenge, run upon similar forested ground, a prime opportunity to gain a physical preview. 

“I think that’s all we’re building towards now,” Archer said. “We’ve got one more regular-season meet – in Blanding – and then we’re going to go run Boggy Draw…as many times as we can before that regional. We know that the more we see it, the better we do on that course.” 

“I guess I can’t think of anything better than to go run in the mountains,” said McCarter, “to train for a mountain regional!” 




1.Monticello 22, 2.San Juan 41, 3.Mancos 59, 4.Dolores 60, 5.Whitehorse 64, 6.Montezuma-Cortez 76, 7.Bayfield 92, 8.Shiprock Northwest 114. (Monument Valley, Utah, and Ignacio also had runners entered, but not enough to qualify for team scoring.) 

BOYS’ TEAM RESULTS: 1.San Juan 14, 2.Monticello 47, 3.IGNACIO 50, 4.Bayfield 61, 5.Dolores 75, 6.Whitehorse 75, 7.Montezuma-Cortez 84, 8.Shiprock Northwest 122. (Monument Valley, Utah, and Mancos also had runners entered, but not enough to qualify for team scoring.) 

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