Cross country: Middle Park tunes up for Regionals at Metro meet |

Cross country: Middle Park tunes up for Regionals at Metro meet

by Will Bublitz
Sky-Hi Daily News
Middle Park's Ryndi Zastrow leads a pack of runners through the forest near Aspen during competition earlier this month. The team faces a tough test this week at regionals, which is their only chance to qualify for State on Oct. 27.

Middle Park High’s top cross country runner, freshman Samantha Berggren, has raced to victory once again, this time winning the 2007 Metro League Championship title.

Racing at Viele Lake near Boulder last Friday, Berggren took an early lead and outraced the field of 43 in the girls varsity race. She crossed the finish line in a time of 19:46, which was the first time she broke 20 minutes in a 5-kilometer race this season.

As she has done in five other races this season, Berggren sprinted immediately to the front of the pack of racers after leaving the starting line and then never gave up the lead. She finished 1 minute, 15 seconds ahead of her closest rival, Kate Hopkins of Peak to Peak.

“Sam led from the start and kept adding to her lead,” coach Jim “Cajun” Courville said. “At the start, there was about a 100-meter sprint area, and by the Sam reached it, she already had a sizable lead. That’s the way she’s run all her races this season. It was really fun to watch.”

In addition to being named Metro League Champion, Berggren received the additional honor of being named to the Metro League First Team. Her win at the league meet was her fifth of the 2007 season. The only race that she did not win was at Steamboat Springs where she finished as the runner-up, only seven seconds behind the winner.

Berggren’s win helped boost the Panther girls to a third-place finish in the Metro League championships. Peak to Peak won the team title in the competition that saw eight of the 10 teams earning finish times.

Helping the team earn the third-place finish was Ryndi Zastrow who took 18th place in a time of 23:09. She also was named to the Metro League Honorable Mention Team for her efforts.

Supporting the team effort were two runners who ran the whole race together. Samantha Miyauchi finished in 20th place in a time of 23:17 while Hannah Garcia took 21st place in 23:24. Rounding out the varsity team’s results was Jessica Bondi who placed 35th in 25:43.

Good results were also earned by two Panther runners in the girls open 5K. Sarah Williams raced to 19th place in a time of 24:51 while Kelly Little took 23rd in 25:36. Both had their best races of the season at the league meet.

In the Metro League Championships’ varsity boys 5K, Middle Park’s boys turned in solid results. In the 44-runner field, Nathanial Ziegler raced to 22nd place in 19:45, followed by Matt Curran in 24th place in 19:59 and Jared Cooper in 33rd place in 21:01. Matt Naschak rounded out the team’s performance with a 34th-place finish in 21:11.

“These were the best times of the year for all of the boys,” Courville said.

The Panther boys finished seventh in the nine-team competition.

Middle Park’s cross country runners will face a critical test this week. On Thursday, they will race in the regional championships, which is the qualifier for the 2007 Colorado High School Cross Country Championships in Colorado Springs on Saturday, Oct. 27.

“Everyone will have to run better than they have,” coach Jim “Cajun” Courville said. “The important thing at the regionals for our runners is to do all in their power to qualify for state. It’s the one and only time that they can.”

For this Thursday’s regional championships, the Panther runners will be returning to Viele Lake. The varsity girls race starts at 4 p.m., followed by the varsity boys at 4:30 p.m. The regionals will also hold a boys open race at 5 p.m. with the girls open race at 5:10 p.m.

Nineteen teams are expected to compete in Thursday’s races in Boulder.

“We will be racing against a much larger field at the regionals,” Courville said. “We have an advantage because we raced the course last Friday and we know it. But anything can happen in a cross country race.”

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