The conference meet is in the books. The state race is on the horizon as the Douglas cross country team wraps up a season that almost never was.
The Bearcats hosted the Absaraka Cross Country Championships, with runners from the entire 3A East convening at the notorious Douglas Community Club & Golf Course, known for its challenging hilly terrain.
The team was dealing with some nagging injuries on both the girls’ and boys’ sides, leading to middle-of-the-pack team scores, but still was led by strong performances by its leaders.
Cam Spence was the star of the race for the Bearcats, finishing third overall, despite running on an ankle that was severely sprained just a week prior.
The race between Spence and the top-two finishers came down to a sprint during the final stretch of the course, but Spence fell behind seniors Alex Cahhal of Buffalo and Carson Bock of Newcastle with around 100 yards left.
Cahhal edged out Bock by one second with a final time of 17.47 to win the race, with Spence coming in just seven seconds later at 17.54.
If Spence was 100%, he’s confident he would have won the race.
“It wasn’t pretty,” Spence said. “I was pretty much running on one ankle after hurting it the week before.
“From how the season was going, the two guys that beat me, not that they don’t deserve what they got, but they both know if I’m healthy I’m the best runner on this side of the state.”
Spence said he will focus on getting 100% healthy before the state meet on Oct. 24
“One thing I know about Cam (Spence) is he is going to try and run regardless,” interim head coach Missy Hodgs said. “I hope the pain eases for him but he will be a tough competitor either way.”
Also dealing with injury was Lane Ewing who has been a top-three finisher for the boys all season before missing the final week of the season as well as the conference meet, and Torrynce Rogge who ran at the conference race despite dealing with an injury.
All are expected to compete at the state meet, according to Hodgs.
Freshman Luke Ewing and Brodie Zwetzig were other top performers for the boys, while seniors Jenny Porter and Brynn Zwetzig were joined by junior Lucie Holt in continuing the season’s trend of leading the way for the girls.
Ewing and Brodie were the 13th and 16th placers, but were the third and fifth fastest underclassman, signifying a bright future for the Bearcats.
Of the boy runners Hodgs brought to conference, only Carson Selk will be graduating this year. Selk ran the course in 21.16.
Porter finished off her last home race with a 22.58 time, good for 17th overall.
“Honestly I was kind of disappointed in my time,” Porter said. “I was really hoping for all-conference, but some of the girls I’ve been beating all year had a better race than me.
“I still had a lot of fun, which is important to me for my senior year. My whole family came to support me and were there at almost every turn cheering me on.”
Holt and Brynn came next for the Lady Bearcats with times of 23.41 and 23.51, good for 23rd and 26th place, finishing in a cluster of four girls who finished no faster than six seconds than the girl behind of her during an intense last leg of the race.
Rawlins senior Sydney Thorvaldson dominated the girls side with a time of 16.55, more than three minutes ahead of the second-place finisher, and will be seeking her fourth-straight 3A state title this week, according to wyopreps.com
Overall, Hodgs is happy with the way the team ran considering the injuries they were dealing with.
With the conference meet on a Thursday, and the state meet scheduled for Saturday, the team will have a longer than usual week to get healthy.
The team will be racing on another hilly course for the state meet in Afton at the Valley View Golf Course.
The girls run at 11 a.m., with the boys set to take off at 11:45 a.m.
Cody is the defending state champion for the girls, while Star Valley will try to repeat for the boys.
Star Valley runner Peter Visser will accomplish a three-peat if he can win the individual race this year.
“The kids have come to practice in a great mood and excited and that’s going to be our outlook for our last week,” Hodgs said. “We’re going to have as much fun as we can, go out and give it our best and see how it goes.”