Rye High Cross Country
As some of you know, the creation of cross country as a full time sport at Rye was rather sudden, as was my accession as cross country coach. Even though I lived in Rye for a year or two in the early seventies and consider it one of the best places I’ve ever been to run, the suddenness of the change is still bewildering. Partly that’s a reflection of how much I’ve slowed in the nearly thirty years since I ran in the Rye area regularly, and the pleasant haze with which memory tints past experience. As an example, I had remembered Hunter going south as relatively flat. I suppose it is compared to Greenhorn Trail, but if you want to see what flat means in Rye, try Hunter.
The good news is people. Everyone I’ve worked with so far has been helpful and relaxed. Arnald Swift has paved the way with schedules and transportation. Donna Dodge and Dona Maglietto, as well as everyone on the staff, have made it easy to contact kids and have provided helpful insights. Jeff Bailey and Beth Burns have been generous in helping kids run as well as play a team sport. Jim Hale has been an advocate for kids running. Parents have been wonderfully supportive. The kids have done a remarkable job in learning how to deal with a crotchety old coach.
By only only the second meet of their inaugural season, Rye has found significant success in cross country. At Alamosa, September 1, only five runners made the trip but everyone who did ran well and showed promise of improvement. Crystal Berndt reaped some of the reward of regular training all summer. She placed a medal winning 13th in a powerful field in 21:19, third from the Pueblo area. Centennial’s Jenna Bimbi won the meet in 19:15 and her teammate Jessica Driscoll was 8th in 20:40. Jamie Barnes of County was 28th in 22:28. Jessica Lowe and Desiree Dalla Guardia ran together in 24:16 and Holly Main ran her first ever distance race in a wonderful 29:28. Shane Ewing, the only Rye male runner was 20:20.
Three days later at the Hornet Invitational we had seven girls run and finish and we took second of nine teams. Once again Crystal Berndt earned a medal. Though the first eight runners made a wrong turn and ran about a minute less of the course than the other runners, the decision was made to let the results stand because those first eight were so far ahead when they made the wrong turn, but times are about a minute short. Crystal ran the best race of her high school career to finish second behind East’s freshman sensation Heather Loeske, 19:45 to 20:34. More importantly she beat La Junta’s Ashlee Velez, who was third in 3A state last year. Ashlee ran 20:51.
Carrie Hadley got her season debut in a way that surprised even her. She was all dressed up and ready to go to La Veta for a volleyball match when the La Veta coach called and said she only had one team. Rye coach Beth Burns responded by sending her JV south and Carrie was free to run. In spite of orders to run slowly she was actually the second Thunderbolt with less than a mile to go till she faded a little to finish 26th in 26:48. Once again Desiree and Jessica ran together and finished 20th and 21st in 25:52 and 25:57 respectively. Marcella Burg was a little bit sick and dehydrated and a lot scared for her debut. Still she ran a strong 30:06 to finish 46th to insure Rye’s second place team finish. Holly Main, with one meet behind her, tweaked a knee while running but held on for 54th in 32:42. Adrian ran all the way to finish 58th in 34:49. Team scores were Widefield 52, Rye 115, County 126, Rocky Ford 129, Sierra 160, East 189, and Fountain Valley 196.
For me there were several highlights. It’s hard to overstate how exciting I found it that in only the second meet, Rye fielded seven runners. Carrie won’t be with us in every meet, but as long as we stay healthy we should have six for most. Adrian’s running the whole way was a first. She ran a little all summer and is fitter than she probably thinks but yesterday was hot which made it an unlikely race for that to happen. Crystal was a whole highlight reel by herself. She overcame an aversion to heat. She ran with the best runner she’s been close to so far. She beat Ashlee Velez. Each girl contributed to the team placing. It was a thrill.
The boys unfortunately didn’t have seven runners, not even five, but they did provide a positive shock. Jim Hale prodded Brandon Montano into getting permission from football coach Jeff Bailey to run the meet. Just before 3:00 he was still getting a uniform, but Brandon has the kind of toughness that can’t be coached. In his first ever meet he placed 5th in 19:31. I don’t know how often we’ll get to use him this season, but if he can run regionals as well as he ran his first meet, he’ll qualify for state. Shane Ewing finished 58th with a sore Achilles and probably a bit of dehydration.