by Brian McCabe
Mail News Editor
The Salida High School boys’ cross-country team edged out the girls’ team Saturday at the Joe I. Vigil Invitational race at Alamosa, with the boys finishing sixth and the girls seventh, both in fields of 20 teams.
“Two weeks into our racing season and the pieces are beginning to fall into place,” coach Kenny Wilcox said. “Ahead of our girls in the team standings were two schools from 4A, two from New Mexico and two teams ranked ahead of us in 3A.
“One surprise of the day was that Alamosa bested number ranked TCA by 9 points. Alamosa is traditionally a strong team, and now they have been bolstered by the addition of their two new runners from Alaska, the Castillo sisters.”
Wilcox said Salida junior Lane Baker, who finished 55th with a personal record time of 22 minutes, 21 seconds, was the girls’ breakthrough performance of the race.
“Lane was moving up through the field so fast that she totally flummoxed coach Gun, who was taking splits at the second mile,” Wilcox said. “Gun was so focused on writing down Emerson (Reed’s) 2-mile time that Lane had to snap his attention back to her, the runaway train.
“Lane, when you race with purpose and confidence as you did today, anyone would be a fool to bet against you.”
Junior Quinn Smith led for the second week in a row, finishing 15th with a time of 20:03.
“Through three scorers, Salida was just 8 points behind No. 1-ranked TCA (3A) and 3 points ahead of No. 5-ranked Alamosa (3A),” Wilcox said. “In a loaded field of this caliber this backs up what we, the coaches, have been thinking. This boys’ squad has the makings of something special.
“By most standards, it could be said that the best Salida High School boys’ team was in 2018. That squad won a regional championship on this very course in October 2018, before going on to finish second at the state meet the following week.
“(Senior) Elijah (Wilcox), (freshman) Zeke (Wilcox) and (senior) Kuper (Banghart) would have outpaced the first three from that regional team by an average of 10 seconds.”
The Wilcox brothers led the field for the Spartans, with Elijah finishing sixth with a time of 16:18 and Zeke finishing ninth in 16:59, a new personal record.
Wilcox also called out sophomore Jack Landry for his performance.
“Having watched Jack develop into a physical specimen over the past year, I am not at all surprised to see what he was able to do in his first race of the season,” Wilcox said. “Jack, you are one of the latest examples of someone who is evidence of what will happen when you put in the work week after week and day after day. The guy is almost always one of the last guys to leave the weight room and he oozes with positivity.”
Landry finished 64th with a time of 18:50, a personal record improvement by more than 3 minutes.
The teams will race again Saturday in Gunnison.