Cross country runners are a different breed of athlete. Running a 5k race isn't for everyone. There is a certain strategy for a variety of variables. Speed and endurance, obviously, are key opponents. Those two traits will create success.
Conditioning is another matter. To place or win, in the top 15 of a 5k race, demands discipline that allows an athlete to tolerate hours of preparing for the total race.
Weather, including extreme temperatures, requires a perserverance which accompanies a distance runner.
For Delta High School cross country coach JB Lopez, the challenge of putting together a team remains the same each year. Find the "will within" each athlete to build confidence.
"Early season time trials are nothing more than a way to get the team into a race-mode thought process," noted Lopez.
Some of the better timed trials came from John Ames (17:49), Andrew Toole (23:38), Aubree Andre and Beki Atchley (23:51) and Jack Jones (26:57).
Ames will pursue a trip to state for the boys with several other members of the boys team also in the running for a berth. "Ames will qualify this year and if Shad Lewis and Isaac Vader can make top 20 at regionals they should also have a chance," noted Lopez.
Andre and Atchley lead the way for potential berths for Delta girls state qualifiers later in the year.
There's not much depth on Delta's girls team this season. Lopez would love to be surprised by his team with multiple qualifiers. Lopez sees Hana Hollenbeck and Abby Williams as two runners who could make the qualifying list.
Lopez noted there are good kids out and "we have more freshmen than usual out this year and that helps us in the future."
Of the 23 athletes listed on a team roster, 15 are female which equates to one of, if not the largest, contingent of female runners Lopez has had out for cross country.
Lopez's roster includes eight seniors; four girls (Amanda Fuller, Melanie Osteen, Ahna Richards and Lucy Streich) and four boys (Greyson McCullough, Thomas Neil, Isaac Vader and Julian Varela).
This year's junior contingent includes two girls (Beki Atchley and Abby Williams) and three boys (John Ames, Syni Lujan and Andrew Toole).
Three of the five sophomores are girls (Hana Hollenbeck, Maddie Sandridge and Shosanna Vigil). The two boys are Jack Jones and Shad Lewis.
Four of the five freshmen are girls (Aubree Andre, Emma Corbasson, Grace Hall and Zoey Williams. Doyle Young is the lone freshman boy on the team's roster.
The two toughest courses, according to Lopez, are Devil's Thumb and Battle Mountain. The Panthers run at Devil's Thumb on Sept. 1 at 10 a.m. and travel to Battle Mountain on Sept. 2 at 10 a.m.
CC at Matchett
A schedule change had the Panthers running at Matchett Park (Grand Mesa race cancelled) in Grand Junction last Saturday.
John Ames was Delta's top runner in the boys' division with a second-place finish and a time of 17:29. Central High School's Tyman Smart ran a 16:36.5 to win the event.
Sophomore Shad Lewis finished 20th with a time of 18:51.3.
Delta freshman Aubree Andre placed fourth in the girls' division with her time of 21:57.9.
Central's Ivory Espinoza dominated the girl's race with a winning time of 18:57.1. Delta's Beki Atchley had a time of 24:06.2 in the race to place 12th.
Two fatal accidents occurred in Delta County within a two-day span last week.
Casey Gillenwater, 25, of Delta was killed the afternoon of Wednesday, Sept. 13, in a single-vehicle rollover on Highway 133 outside of Hotchkiss.