The high school cross country season has been over for a little more than a month as I write, but the National Junior Olympic meet in Reno, Nevada is still ahead, December 9, 2000. Crystal Berndt and Kyle Reno are the only club and County High runners still in the chase.
The high school season ended at the regional meet in Alamosa October 20 for all but three members of the Hornet teams. Going into that meet I thought the boys had a chance to qualify for state as a team and that at least three individuals would qualify by placing in the top seven individuals not on qualifying teams.
The girls team ran first with four very nervous freshman girls acting like they were running the first meet of their lives with execution awaiting unsatisfactory performances. Crystal Berndt ran strongly early and faded somewhat. She finished 12th in 21:41, the third individual qualifier. Jessica Lower ran scared and placed 33rd in 24:10. Tiffany Reno was 44th in 25:14, 3:27 faster than her Alamosa debut. Just as at City Emily Gogarty and Adrian Martinez ran together nearly the whole way and Em pulled away by 3 seconds at the end. Emily was 56th in 32:27 and Adrian 57th in 32:30.
The women’s team scores were 1, South 51, 2 Cañon City 65, 3 Centennial 67, 4 Widefield 84, 5 Fountain 135, 6 Alamosa 162, 7 Pueblo County 200, 8 Mesa Ridge 205, 9 Pueblo West 249. East and Central did not have full teams.
The top ten women were 1 Jenna Bimbi CB 19:08, 2 Stephanie Bylander FFC 19:53, 3 Breanna Berry CC 20:16, 4 Jenna Dorsey-Spitz S 20:41, 5 Renee Opferman S 20:56, 6 Beth Alfonso CW 21:09, 7 Angela Hicks CC 21:19, 8 Heather Birch S 21:20, 9 Burchard CW 21:32, 10 Sarah French W (no official time estimated 21:35). The individual qualifiers were 1 Bylander, 2 Alfonso , 3 Berndt, 4 Danforth Ala 22:11, 5 Grage MR 22:15, 6 Fisher FFC 22:43, 7 Leipply MR 23:32.
The men made an honest run at qualifying but Centennial was very good and beat us by 44 points. Steve Kirkendall had an exceptional race, especially considering his lack of running training. He and Chad Stapleton ran strongly near the front most of the way. Steve finished 11th in 18:02. Chad was 15th in 18:14, Brad Winn was 24th in 19:07, Kyle Reno was 40th in 19:58, Adam Arellano was 47th in 20:42. Jon Todd was 55th in 21:28 and Eusabio Maes, also displaying some frosh nervousness was 66th in 27:19.
The team scores were 1 Fountain-Fort Carson 66, 2 Cañon City 68, 3 South 68, 4 Centennial 93, 5 Widefield 136, 6 County 137. Mesa Ridge 190, Central 205. Pueblo West, East and Alamosa did not have full teams.
The top ten were 1 James Sandoval W 16:44, 2 Aaron Rubalcaba-Lopez S 16:59, 3 Shaun Borton S 17:04, 4 Luna FFC 17:20, 5 Lane FFC 17:31, 6 Blea CC 17:45, 7 Ryan Dorsey-Spitz S 17:45, 8 Kalin Mellars W 17:54, 9 Javernick CC 17:54, 10 David Duran CB 17:56. The individual qualifiers were 1 Sandoval, 2 Mellars, 3 Kirkendall 18:02, 4 Stapleton 18:14, 5 Case CW 18:24, 6 Whitmore MR 18:41, Nolan PW 19:05.
At the state meet the next week Steve finished 22nd in 17:34 behind Aaron Rubalcaba-Lopez 11th. Chad was about 62nd in 18:17. Crystal had a time that was slow for her, 23:11, for 116th.
St. Charles Peak Trail
A couple of other things seem worth mentioning. The first was our run on the St. Charles Peak trail on October 14. All but two members of the team showed up for the run and two parents. Mike Lowe and Diana Reno started with the team. Student/mother/coach Diana had to run around early to work on an English paper. Pat Berndt and son Aaron, who were late because of Cassie’s soccer match, did a big chunk of trail as well.
Kyle, Chad and Brad led the assault but waited near the top for their slow old coach. Mike Lowe was next up, closely followed by Crystal Berndt, Jessica Lowe, Adam Arellano and Eusabio Maes.
In order to get everyone down reasonably close together and over to Davenport Picnic Ground for the barbecue, I turned the remaining runners before the summit. It was a brisk, beautiful day and once we got the grill going the hamburgers weren’t too bad either.
Cross Country Meet at Roncalli
Another highlight of a different kind came a few days later, October 19 when five sixth grade boys from Craver Middle School showed up at Roncalli for a cross country meet. Aaron Berndt had earlier run in the District 60 middle school meet at City Park and decided they needed a team of five for the Roncalli meet. They persuaded their PE teacher, Gunny Pagnotta, to have a trial race in class earlier that day and the survivors, Chris Graham, Levi Henson and Jace Kirkland, came to Roncalli.
The boys started slowly. Fortunately, I didn’t give any advice. Gradually they began to move through the field as the two mile race went on. Logan out sprinted a competitor at the end to get second over all, first sixth grader in 13:33. Aaron was 10th, third sixth grader in 15:08. Two other guys finished together in 17:55 and one by himself in 17:35 or so but since I’d just met the guys a few minutes before the race, I’m not sure who goes with which time.
Region X Junior Olympics
Two of those boys ran at the Region X Junior Olympics meet in Glendale, Arizona November 19. In the 4K race Aaron placed 32nd in 17:46. The top twenty finishers qualified for Nationals in Reno to be held December 9. In his third ever race, not including the trial run that Aaron and Logan talked coach Gunny Pagnotta into having in his PE class, Levi placed 46th in 19:01.
Crystal had a sensational race. She moved up steadily and finished 16th in a PR 20:25. This is the fastest 5K time ever run by a Rye High girl.