Lake County’s cross-country teams opened their season at their own invitational last Saturday, Aug. 31. The meet was contested on the trails at Colorado Mountain College and included 18 high-school and eight middle-school teams from across the state.

In the middle-school girls’ race, the Panthers tied with Salida for second place as a team. The girls were led by Keira King and Ella Bullock, who placed ninth and tenth, with times of 16 minutes 26 seconds and 16:36, respectively, on the two-mile course. Clara Kirr placed 16th in 17:19. Indigo Olsen, Brynna Lenhard, Aimee Lenhard and Avery Milne packed together, finishing 35th, 36th, 38th and 41st, respectively, with times of 20:07.4, 20:07.5, 20:13 and 20:23. Susie Bullock, Tal Sheleg and Amara Olsen formed another grouping, running 21:14, 22:04.7 and 22:04.9 respectively, and taking 44th, 46th and 47th.

The middle-school boys’ team also took second place, with four runners earning medals for being in the top 20. Jake Cairns was fifth (14:56), Jaren Peters was seventh (15:06), Josiah Horning was ninth (15:11) and Abel Gonzales was 14th (15:35). Jaime Castillo placed 40th in 18:05. Newcomers Max Fiedler and Jordyn Garcia finished their first cross-country races in 43rd and 54th place, respectively, running 18:14 and 19:38.

Conner Lenhard and Matt Cairns led a strong team of high-school men. Lenhard, a senior, broke into the top 10 of the Lake County Invitational field for the first time in his career by running the five-kilometer course in 19:56 and placing seventh. Cairns, a freshman, took 12th in 20:05. Rounding out the varsity men’s squad were Jace Peters, 22nd in 21:13; James Garrison, 36th in 22:21; and Emmanuel Torres, 51st in 24:16. There were 88 competitors in the men’s race.

As a team, the varsity men finished fourth and were only beaten by schools in higher divisions.

Three other high-school men participated in the junior-varsity competition. Sophomore Desmond Sandoval ran 26:44 for 27th place, and senior rookies Luis Castillo and Jesus Hernandez finished 31st and 38th, in 27:38 and 34:46, respectively.

Freshman Adele Horning led the Lady Panther team. She broke into the top 10 in her first high-school race, placing ninth in 23:30. Dominika Piech had two very strong miles, but then a twisted ankle slowed her down. She ended up 33rd in 27:31. Morgan Holm, Abby Holm and Aurora Marruffo rounded out the team scorers by completing the course in 29:23, 30:27 and 31:45, and placing 43rd, 47th and 53rd, respectively. Hannah Holm finished 59th in 34:32, and Grisel Saucedo ran her first five-kilometer race in 34:50, taking 60th place.

As a team, the Lady Panthers placed sixth.

Lake County’s harriers will travel to Kremmling to compete in the West Grand Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 7.

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