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RANGELY I The Anna Banana Wildcat Invitational is a fun and fast race hosted by Fruita Monument to honor the life of Anna Lee Janowitz, who tragically died in automobile accident during her junior year of high school. A booth that provides pictures and other memories of Anna’s life reminds athletes that there is more to life than sports but when competing you better give it your all. Which is what all the Panther athletes did at this race, each one setting personal bests.
With 20 schools represented at the event, the boys’ team knocked down a 10th place award and finished as the highest placing 2A school at the race. The race got off to a precarious start as sophomore Dale Nielsen took a nose dive into the dirt about 50 yards from the starting line. The fall left some nice gashes on his back and blisters on his hands but also gave him a boost of adrenaline. After ducking to avoid another runner falling over him, Nielsen jumped back up and finished the race with a new best time of 18 minutes. Trying to stay out of trouble himself, William Scoggins worked his way toward the front of the pack and finished the course in a time of 17:04 and in 11th place. Tanner Nielson finished just a few short yards behind his brother in the 5K race in a time of 18:03 and managed to stay on his feet the entire race. Freshman Ethan Allred broke 20 minutes for the first time by finishing the course in a time of 19:59. Mitchell Webber had a great race and knocked 13 seconds off his best time ever by completing the 5K in a time of 21:01. Alexis Silva continued to show improvement as a first year runner and finished the course in a personal best time of 30:32 in the girls’ race.
All of the runners continue to show improvement and are looking forward to this Saturday’s race in Aspen. They will run on what is considered to be one of the most challenging and hilly courses in the state. Including the Aspen Invitational, there are just two meets left in the season before the state qualifying regional meet. The boys’ team continues to work hard toward the goal of taking a full team to state and are now ranked fourth in the state. Unfortunately, two of the schools ahead of them are in the same region, including the returning state champion team from Telluride.