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GCHS cross country teams sweep at Cañon City

Published 9/28/2012


CAÑON CITY, Colo. — It has reportedly been millions of years since glaciers cut a swath through the Arkansas River area of central Colorado, creating what is now the Royal Gorge.

On Thursday, though, the Garden City Buffaloes boys and girls cross country teams cut their own swaths through the Gorge, capturing respective team titles at the 40th Canon City Invitational.

The Buffaloes’ boys team captured its first overall title of the season with 33 points, outdistancing runner-up Lamar, Colo., which had 61 points.

The all-senior boys squad was paced by second-place finisher Jalen Rowland, with a personal best finish in a time of 18:01 over the demanding 5-kilometer layout that traversed the edge of the Royal Gorge and then finished the final quarter mile over the suspension bridge, 1,000 feet above the Arkansas River.

On the girls side, the Lady Buffs continued their impressive fall season by scoring 21 points, while host Cañon City was second with 45 points.

“It was just a great day for all the kids,” an elated head coach Krista Linenberger said. “The boys ran the best they’ve run all year, and it’s something I knew they had in them, and the girls just continue to work hard, run well. We really enjoy coming to Colorado and running, and I think the kids were all just relaxed and enjoyed themselves.”

Rowland led a Buffaloes onslaught in the top 20, as Jacob Thomas was right behind in third (18:03), Chris Resley was sixth (18:19), Heath Winkelman was 10th (18:29), Aaron Peters 12th (18:31), Cody Nagel 17th (18:51) and Dalton Skipton 21st (19:04).

“This was a way tougher run, especially the start up the hill,” Rowland said. “That first mile was so hard, but oh man, we just tried to be patient and decided not to take out too fast.”

Rowland said the run at the Gorge was difficult but also exciting.

“It feels amazing,” he said. “When I got to the bridge, I was excited to see how I was finishing.”

Lamar’s Josh Davis garnered the boys individual title with a time of 16:48.

The race began at about 6,500 feet, climbed to about 6,800 feet and then came back down hill, finishing at the bridge at about 6,300 feet.

“It’s just the best scenery and one of the most fun races we’ve had,” Rowland said.

Linenberger was especially pleased with the team’s packing time, where it was only 1:03 between Rowland and Skipton, something she has stressed to the team all year.

“This shows what we can do and I think it is a big confidence boost for the boys,” Linenberger said.

On the girls side, junior Alex Miller continued to the be lead runner for the Lady Buffs, as they also had to contend with the full 5-kilometer layout, a full kilometer longer than they run in Kansas.

Her third-place finish came in a time of 20:29, well back of individual winner Aubrey Till of Canon City, at 19:31. Second went to Pueblo Central’s Lucero Kimberly.

In order behind Miller came Chelsea Jackson (4th, 20:43), Kayla Doll (5th, 20:52), Katy Doll (6th, 21:31), Maria Rodriguez (8th, 21:59), Neysa Harman (14th, 22:44) and Savannah Peters (16th, 23:05).

“It was difficult, but we like coming to Colorado to run,” Miller said. “You can’t beat this (Royal Gorge). We all just like it a lot. By far, it’s the coolest place we run. It’s just awesome.”

The team was happy with the way it packed, too, with the placings being between 3rd and 16th for the seven runners.

“The first mile was a lot slower than normal,” Kayla Doll said of the uphill, into-the-wind start. “We were a little worried about that, but at the second mile turnaround, things went smoother. You never see a place like this in Kansas. We just like being here.”

For the younger Doll sister, Katy, it was another strong team effort that left an impression.

“I liked running here, and when I got to the bridge, I looked up and thought it looked so far across,” Katy Doll said.

For Jackson, not losing patience as a group was critical to the team effort.

“We were really running well as a pack at first so when we got to that first mile, I don’t think we panicked,” Jackson said. “But crossing that finish line with so many teammates close, it was a great feeling.”

Harman perhaps had the most gutsy performance of all, battling asthma and losing her inhaler in the middle part of the race. She had to stop, find it and then get back into the race.

“Might have cost me five or so seconds and several girls passed me by,” Harman said. “But I’m happy I was able to finish. Taking the inhaler made me slow down. Sometimes I hold my breath when I’m running and I know that’s not good.”

Rodriguez, too, shared the sentiment of the team after the race.

“Everything was good, the temperature was nice, the course was amazing,” Rodriguez said.

See results in Scoreboard, Page B2.
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