While Paonia is only in its second season as a cross country team, this Friday's Class 2A Region 4 cross country meet will be the 28th high school 5000-meter race for Paonia senior Taylor Polson. Polson is a three-time state qualifier who ran her freshman and sophomore years for Hotchkiss, before the two teams split in 2012.
Last year she placed fifth in the region and led the Paonia girls to a fourth-place finish at state.
This year, Paonia is ranked second in the region in team standings, behind Hotchkiss, and well ahead of Mancos and Crested Butte Community School. In its second season, the girls' team attracted 14 runners. Sophomore Chelsea Meilner and senior Braiden Clement, also a two-year runner for Hotchkiss, are returning state qualifiers, and are ranked in the top 10 in the region. Alicia Wilmore and Noelle Helmer are in the top 15.
The Paonia boys' team is running a close fourth in MileSplit rankings.It is ranked just two points behind third-ranked Mancos High School. Only the top three teams, as well as the top 15 individual placers, qualify for state.
In 2012, the first year the school had a cross country team, junior Jason Sturgis was the sole men's state qualifier after placing ninth at regionals. His sophomore year at Hotchkiss, he placed 17th and ran with the team at state. Tim Helmer, Eli Etter, Zach Milner, Bo Pipher and Jesse Reed will also run for Paonia.
Runners representing 10 Western Slope teams will compete at the 2A regional meet. Races are held at Confluence Park and begin at 12:30 p.m., starting with the 2A boys' race. At approximately 1 p.m. the girls' race will begin. Class 3A and 4A races will follow on a rolling time schedule.blog comments powered by Disqus