Two Mustangs earn slots in state cross country race
Luna, James qualify with strong regional performances
West Grand cross country runners Allura Luna and Brayden James both qualified for the Class 2A State Cross Country Championship with stellar performances in the regional race on Oct. 22 at Confluence Park in Delta.
At regionals, Luna finished seventh overall at 21 minutes, 12 seconds, which was good enough to punch her ticket to run in the Class 2A Cross Country Championships this Saturday at the Norris Penrose Event Center in Colorado Springs.
A homeschooled student, Luna has been a star with the Mustangs cross country team over the past four years. The Mustangs’ senior runner started out as the team’s “secret weapon” when she was injured and not able to do much her freshmen year.
However, it didn’t take long after that to solidify her place among the top runners in the league.
“She has made incredible strides over her four years, and had it not been for an injury the last few weeks, I fully believe that she could have challenged for regional runner up, if not outright regional champion,” coach Ryan Tripicchio said. “Allura is an extremely smart and dedicated individual. She has absolutely earned the right to be on the state championship line this Saturday.”
Meanwhile, James is out for his first year of cross country, and the Mustangs only wish that he had joined the squad sooner.
“His infectious happy energy makes practice great, and he has always been incredibly supportive of all on the team,” Tripicchio said. “It’s just a bonus that (James) is as fast and gifted as he is.”
James broke the school’s cross country record on Oct. 1 by posting an 18:45 at the Pantherfest Invite in Delta. However, he then developed some hip pain and couldn’t run in the Whistle Pig Invite in Craig.
However, James came back to set a new school record during the Colorado 2A Region 4 Championships by finishing the course in 18:18.
“We are just so glad that Brayden came out for the team with his personality,” Tripicchio said. “We just got lucky that we got an amazing runner in the process.”
Galen Wilkinson (18th, 18:32), Henry Westfahl (36th, 19:55), Alejo Aguilar-Pineiro (38th, 20:00) Dean Ratcliff (39th, 20:02), Esteban Aguilar-Pineiro (66th, 22:27) and Wyatt Guthrie (67th, 22:30) rounded out the Mustang boys at the regional meet.
In the girls race, West Grand’s Lillie Steinle finished 53rd at 25:33, followed by teammates Sara Lechman (59th, 25:54) and Louisa Parmenter (68th, 31:28).
There will be a state sendoff for James and Luna. Anyone who wants to cheer the Mustang runners on is encouraged to line US Highway 40 in Kremmling at noon today.
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