Buckaroo cross country squads get stellar performances and a life lesson this past week

The Monticello Buckaroos hit the trails twice this past week with the John Thornton Invitational in Blanding on Wednesday, September 22 and the Pagosa Springs Challenge on Saturday, September 25.

The John Thornton Invitational, which began and ended at the Blanding Visitors Center, had its challenges with the runners running on grass, pavement, and sand.

In the end both teams secured team placings, with the boys bringing home the first-place team title and the girls coming home in second place.

Boston Freestone once again led the Buckaroos, finishing the race in fourth place with Curtis Bunker coming in eleven seconds behind in fifth.

Kaden Pehrson was the eighth runner to cross the finish line with Jesse Pettit in 11th, Josh Wheeler in 12th, Jacob Johnson in 18th, and Easton Young in 20th. That put seven MHS runners in the top 20.

Monticello competes in the 1A classification which scores only the first four finishers. There was only a gap of one minute, 13 seconds between the five top Buckaroo finishers in the race.

Also running the Invitational for the Buckaroos were Soren Welch, Aaron Gillette, and Carter Harrod finishing 27th, 29th, and 49th respectively.

The Lady Buckaroos had strong representation with three of the girls medaling in the top ten. Lily Long won the race with a time of 22:31.

Lilli Burton wasn’t far behind in third place, Ayla Carling finished ninth, and Marah Long got 13th. Abigail Crowley and Alexis Bailey came in together in 28th and 29th place.

As a team, the Lady Buckaroos took second, just one point behind the Mancos Lady Panthers.

On Saturday, September 25 the Buckaroo bus departed Monticello at 5:30 a.m. to make it to Pagosa Springs, CO for a 9 a.m. start time at the Pagosa Springs Challenge.

The Pagosa course typifies what a cross country race should be. It’s a two-loop course on a rocky dirt trail with three sets of switchbacks, towering Ponderosa pines overhead, and a finish line on grass overlooking downtown Pagosa, the San Juan Mountains, and the San Juan River.

In the girls race, Lily Long finished second behind Dewa Ilg of Durango. Lilli Burton finished a strong 11th in the race.

Alya Carling and Marah Long battled it out towards the finish line, coming in 26th and 27th with less than a second between them.

Abigail Crowley and Alexis Bailey also ran a close race with only seven second determining 48th and 49th. The Lady Bucks finished in fourth place as a team.

Boston Freestone led the boys team with a strong 11th-place performance. Curtis Bunker finished in 14th and Kaden Pehrson came home 16th.

Josh Wheeler and Jesse Pettit came in 19th and 21st, Jacob Johnson ran to a 25th-place finish, and Easton Young got 28th.

Aaron Gillette finished 33rd with Soren Welch close behind in 34th, and Carter Harrod finished 50th. The Buckaroo boys team brought home the second-place team trophy from the event.

We’re a month into cross country season and all the races this year have been attended by cheering, supportive, and proud parents, grandparents, and siblings of all the athletes.

However, at the Pagosa meet there was one unfamiliar face cheering on the Monticello Buckaroos with enthusiasm. His name is Lyndell Chee.

He’s an alumnus of Monticello High School and ran cross country for the Buckaroos in the 70s guided by Coach Joe Davis. He had a son running in the junior high race and stayed for the additional races to cheer on his alma mater.

He then sought out the teams to find out if any belonged to his old classmates. Sure enough, he found some connections. I was one of those people.

I wish I would have thanked him for introducing himself to me and to the team. He taught us all a great lesson about life, in and out of sports.

At the end of the day, be kind to everyone, cheer for those who are in the thick of it with you and find connections with those around you…even if they don’t wear the same jersey as you.

San Juan Record

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