The Pagosa Springs High School cross country teams began their racing seasons on the right feet, with the girls finishing first and the boys ranking fourth at the Bayfield Invitational Saturday.
With 45 points on the day, the Lady Pirates finished first, ahead of eight teams.
Pagosa’s top finisher on the girls’ side was Emilie Bryant, who came in third place with a time of 22:04 — the fastest time a Lady Pirate has ever recorded on the Bayfield course.
“It’s a blessing and a curse to be that talented,” said head coach Scott Anderson of Bryant, who is currently spreading her talent and time between cross country and volleyball.
Mele Lelievre placed 13th, recording a time of 24:54. Ten seconds behind her, fellow Pirate Danielle Pajak finished 15th with a time of 25:04.
Rounding out the Lady Pirates’ top 20 finishers, Haleigh Zenz crossed the line 18th in 25:17.
Also for the Pagosa varsity, Dana Danielson finished 22nd with a time of 25:24; Tori Strohecker crossed the line 25th in 26:16; and Crystal Purcell ended 26th with a time of 26:19.
“One of the neat things about the team is, particularly, two through seven are really close and ... if somebody doesn’t have a great day, there’s somebody right there to fill in,” Anderson said, adding, “That will be one of our strengths as we move forward.”
On the boys’ side, a team total of 81 points and a tie-breaker situation with Bayfield (scoring the fifth runner for each team) pushed the Pirates to a fourth-place finish out of 10 teams and their first victory over Bayfield in “a long time.”
In their effort, the Pirates were led by a fifth-place finish by Carlos Brinkman, who recorded a time of 19 minutes even.
Next best for the Pirates was Evan Brookens, who placed 21st with a time of 20:26.
Next, Moses Huck crossed the line 24th with a time of 21:08.
Mason Chronowski rounded out the top 30 with a time of 21:10.
Finishing out the varsity was a 36th-place finish by Zach Graveson (21:48); Dylan Kutch placed 46th (22:25); and Tyler Greenly placing 51st (23:14).
“This was the first time we’ve beat Bayfield in a long time, which felt really good,” Anderson said.
A testament to the competitiveness of the younger runners and the possibility of revolving varsity squads for both teams, the girls JV team also finished first at the meet, while the boys JV rang in a second place finish.
Next, the Pirates host the Pagosa Springs Cross Country Classic on Sept. 25, slated for a 9 a.m. start in Town Park. The Classic will again be held in conjunction with the annual Mountain Chile Cha Cha.