Middle Park cross-country readies for season
With the first two days of the school year already behind us high schools sports action is heating up in Middle Park.
The Middle Park High School Cross-Country Team has been busy for the past two weeks preparing for the fall running season. Student athletes from East Grand got back to work on August 14 along with head cross-country coach Scotty Hicks and assistant coach Courtney Lincoln. The team participated in their first event of the year last Thursday in Kremmling at the Grand County Classic East-West Dual. The team’s first official meet of the year will be held on Sept. 9 at Soroco High School in Oak Creek.
This cross-country season will be something of a rebuilding year for the Panthers. The team has seen a modest drop in participation numbers from last season. According to Coach Hicks the Middle Park High team ended the 2016 season with 22 student athletes and currently has 16 athletes on the roster. Coach Hicks said the team lost several seniors at the end of last year and also had a few students who participated on the team last year decide not to go out for cross-country this year.
“We have a smaller team this year than I was anticipating,” Hicks said. “But they are a really good group of kids.”
Noticeably absent from the team this year is homeschool student and junior Tyler (Ty) Scholl, one of the leading runners on last year’s squad. Scholl enrolled in an internship program with the Aurora Fire District this year and will be spending most of his time in the Denver area. As such he was unable to commit to Middle Park’s cross-country season.
Despite the attrition though Coach Hicks says he still expects big things from his student runners.
“I would like to see them defend their league titles from last year,” Hicks said. “I think it will be more difficult this year, but still possible.”
There are several runners to watch this year including four leading lady runners and four leading male runners. The lady Panthers will be led this year by a group four girls who helped propel the squad to last year’s league championship. Seniors Raelee Granger and Sierra Smith will be eyeing late season championship meets along with their fellow female runners juniors Lizzie Barker and Hayley Friesen.
On the boys squad Coach Hicks will be looking to four young men to anchor the team’s efforts this season: Brevik Petersen, Eric Berry, Aaron Sanders and Dylan Cormican.
The team has been officially holding practices since the third week in August but spent most of the summer holding twice weekly trail running sessions at various mountain trails throughout Grand County.
“We do that to keep everyone in shape,” Coach Hicks said. “It also gives us an opportunity to get everyone together, to run together. Most of the students are run on their own, which is great, but it is nice to run with other people. It is more exciting then them just trying to train on their own all the time.”
Grand County locals will be able to catch some of the action in person this year without having to leave the high country when the Middle Park Invitational is held at Snow Mountain Ranch on Sept. 16.
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