It’s easy to look to the past, but runners need to concentrate on the road ahead. Whether they’re fighting through an injury, battling a new course or looking to set a new personal record, the Douglas High School cross country runners have fought on.
They had their second opportunity of the season Oct. 18 to show off their hard work at home for the 3A East Absaraka Conference meet. Starting at the 18th hole of the Douglas Golf Course, the Bearcats got to put in work with their friends and family cheering them on.
“This is a group that doesn’t complain. Even last week they were like, ‘We know Douglas has a hard hill, can we go train on that hill to prepare?’” head coach Rachel Carlson said.
During the race itself, Carlson saw all of her runners pass at least one other runner on the 400 meter hill. For senior RayAnne Deluna, hearing her friends and family cheer on gave her the energy to push through that tough hill in particular.
The entire field of DHS boys was led by sophomore Cameryn Spence. He finished the course in 17:22.19 — less than one second off of a new course record. Going into State, Spence wants to improve his times and get better, but not for himself.
“Rachel hasn’t had a top-10 finisher boys-wise, I’m top-20 right now in the state so I’m trying to get All-State for her and for me,” he said.
Travis Tigert in 20th was the second Bearcat to cross the finish line for the team. His 18:49.43 was three seconds slower than the 19th finisher and three faster than the runner in 21st. Next came Lane Ewing, who finished neck-and-neck with his opponent from Pine Bluffs before pulling ahead and finishing in 19:05.53.
Bryndon Wagner’s 19:18.03 earned him 30th place, just 0.5 seconds faster than the next closest runner. Carson Selk pulled in to the finish line in 19:50.40, making him the 37th boy to complete the 5k course. The last DHS runners for the boys came in back-to-back in 42nd and 43rd. Andrew Gifford bested the course in 20:31.07, with Chance Himle coming in right behind him at 20:31.36.
The Douglas boys finished in fifth as a team out of the seven schools.
Before the boys took on the course, it was up to the Douglas High School girls to kick off the day. Along with the energy of being at home, the Lady Cats had additional motivation from one of their competitors.
Rawlins’ Sydney Thorvaldson finished in first for the girls — and 15 seconds faster than Spence. Carlson said that facing off with a runner of her caliber pushed the DHS squad and drove them to do their best. Deluna came in first for the Bearcat girls, finishing in 11th with a time of 20:58.90.
“Over the past three weeks I haven’t been doing too good, and this week was like my rebound. I did really good and set a PR,” Deluna said.
Deluna’s projected time has her finishing in 11th at State, but she hopes to beat that time and potentially move into the top 10, earning All-State honors. The second Bearcat to complete the race was Brynn Zwetzig in 22nd place after running a 22:18.62 5K.
Jenny Porter came in just a few seconds later at 22:36.98, earning herself 25th out of the 46 runners. Lucie Holt finished two spots later in 27th after stopping the clock at 22:48.85. Finishing in 33rd with a time of 23:51.08 was Mayce Himle.
Brianna Hansel, the 44th place finisher with a final time of 27:09.08, rounded out team placings.
After the races, the competition in Douglas was done. All that’s left is the State Championship next weekend. In addition to the difficulties with the course, and the presence of all the best runners in the state, the Bearcats will have to deal with the weather at the course in Afton.
As of Monday, according to Carlson, the course had six inches of snow on it. The weather forecast as of Oct. 22 predicts that it will be 50 degrees and sunny on Oct. 26, the day of the race. Every runner reacts differently to weather conditions, but at least one Bearcat is hoping for cooler temperatures.
“I’m a bigger fan of running in snow than in extreme heat,” Deluna said. She then laughed. “When I run, my face gets bright red and, like, I look more attractive in the cold.”