“What is sport?” the French theorist asks in a documentary on sports. “Sport answers this question by another question: who is best?”
That is the same question the Pagosa boys’ cross country team asked themselves on Saturday as they raced in the state meet. They weren’t alone; 128 fellow high school male runners were asking the question as well.
“It went well, overall,” coach Scott Anderson said, then added, “Reality can bite sometimes.”
The reality which faced the Pirates last Saturday was the answer to, “Who is best?” Coming in eighth place out of 19 teams, the Pirates might not have been the best, but they were good and performed better than the rest of the teams they had competed against during the season.
“The guys did well ... they did what they could and didn’t underperform,” Anderson said. “They gave us what they had that day.”
The Classical Academy, which Anderson calls the “800-pound gorilla,” took first place, running well ahead of the pack. “No one was going to touch them,” Anderson commented.
While cross country runners compete as a team, it is with individuals that the meet is to be lost or won. With each pounding stride echoing in the runner’s mind, the athlete must push to go on, to be faster. Looking to the side, hearing the closing beats of the herd behind, the individual runner must know their body, and they alone have the power to push it to its limits.
Senior Carlos Brinkmann placed in the top 10, a seventh-place finish with a time of 17 minutes and four seconds. A time fast enough to make All State.
“He ran a good race,” Anderson said. Brinkmann had dealt with a minor injury and a cold during this season. “He overcame a fair amount of adversity and dealt with senior year pressure.”
Each year during his time on the team, Brinkmann worked toward being named All-State (a designation bestowed on the top 10 runners in the field), and on his last shot, he made it.
The next Pirate to finish was senior Evan Brookens at 18:36, a time that got him 57th place. Anderson explains that this is the average time for most of the state qualifying runners.
“A lot of people will fit in ten seconds, maybe twenty to thirty kids,” Anderson said. While in the top 10, only a few runners will fill a 10 to 15 second gap.
Sophomore Mason Chronowski came in 65th, at 18:43.9, with senior Moses Huck taking 67th, at 18:46.
The Pirate girls, while not represented as a team, did have two state-qualifying runners competing. Sophomore Emily Bryant placed 19th with a time of 20:48. Senior Brooke Hampton took 27th with a time of 21:10.
“Emily had a good race. Nineteenth is not bad,” Anderson said of Bryant.
“Brooke ran a solid race. She started the race at 40th and 50th; and throughout the whole race kept moving up and moving up. As a senior, going out, she had her best race,” Anderson said.
Speaking of his two teams this season, Anderson noted that they did not have much big meet experience.
“I thought we could coach through that,” Anderson said. “But, when reality hits, and you look around and see how fast everyone is, it can affect you.”
All in all, though, at state, the Pirates ran with everything they had, and in that, ran a good race.
Looking to next year, Anderson said the team has a solid base from which to build a strong effort.