Lake County High School’s cross-country team returned to action last Saturday at the Battle Mountain Husky Invitational in Minturn. Out of the 14 schools competing, 10 of them were 4A or larger. Lake County, Buena Vista, Soroco and West Grand represented the 2A division.

The Panthers dealt with hills, varying terrain and hot temperatures on the 5 kilometer course, which was the first high school race for about half the team.

Junior Jace Peters benefitted from his 50-mile per week summer training plan. He mixed it up with some strong 4A runners and was the first 2A athlete to cross the finish line. His time of 18 minutes, 26 seconds earned him 16th place.

Senior Desmond Sandoval contributed experience and steady running to the team, completing the course in 28:19.

For freshmen Matthew Wilson and Sam Missey, Saturday’s race was their first cross-country meet ever. They successfully finished with times of 28:02 and 30:32 respectively, and afterward supported their teammates by passing out water and cheering enthusiastically.

At least five runners were necessary to score as a team, so the Lake County men were one finisher short of counting as a team.

Each of the returning Lady Panthers turned in performances better than their opening times in 2020. Junior Adele Horning led the way with a 17th-place finish and a time of 22:29. Sophomores Keira King and Violet Hill ran 23:46 and 24:44 respectively, taking 28th and 39th places. Freshman Ella Bullock established herself as part of the varsity team by finishing 47th in 25:12. Clara Kirr, a sophomore, turned in her second best time ever, 25:31, and finished 50th. Turning in the 3rd best time of her career, sophomore Brynna Lenhard took 55th in 26:17. After missing the 2020 season because of an injury, senior Morgan Holm returned to competition with a 73rd place finish and a time of 29:54.

The Panther women’s team is so deep this year that some of the ladies had to compete in the JV division. This race was the first high school competition for sophomore Grace Bunch and freshmen Indigo Olsen and Tal Sheleg. Olsen turned in a time of 29:13, Bunch finished in 29:43, and Sheleg crossed the finish line in 32:20.

As a team, the Panther ladies finished 7th, higher than any of the other 2A schools, including Buena Vista, last year’s state champions.

Lake County will host its own invitational at Colorado Mountain College on Saturday, Sept. 4. The meet will begin with a citizens’ race at 8 a.m., open to anyone in the community. The $20 entry fee will go directly to benefit the cross-country teams. Registration will be held on the CMC soccer field, beginning at 7:15 a.m.

The JV girls will kick off the high school action at 9 a.m. JV boys will follow at 9:40 a.m. Varsity girls will race at 10:20 a.m., and the varsity boys will start at 11 a.m. The middle school girls will start at 11:45 a.m., and the middle school boys at 12:15 p.m.

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