The strong tradition of talented cross-country runners in Durango will continue for years to come if the middle school state championships were any indication of what Durango High School can expect in coming years.
It wasn’t a usual running season for middle school cross-country runners in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic limited the schedule, and coach Chad MacCluskey took a year away from the program to tend to family matters. In stepped and handful of volunteers, the Durango Nordic Ski Club and famed fitness guru Steve Ilg to help lead the team with races held in Ouray, Ridgway and Delta.
After four regional races, three Durango girls traveled to the Colorado Middle School State Cross Country Championship held Oct. 24 at Fehringer Ranch Park in Denver.
Running in the girls 3,500-meter finals of the blue girls open classification, Durango’s Bryn Aggeler, who runs for Escalante Middle School, placed third in a time of 14 minutes, 30 seconds. Right behind her was fellow eighth grader Dewachen Ilg, a St. Columba School student who was fourth in 14:47.
Seventh grade runner Ayumi Lambert of Miller Middle School added a sixth-place finish in 15:42.
“Relegated to a one-minute start behind the ‘seeded teams’ from the Front Range, these fantastic three dropped their wave and bridged to the first wave,” coach Ilg said. “
Because the Durango contingent did not have enough runners to score as a team, the runners all ran unattached, and Ilg was not given access to the course to help coach the ladies.
First place went to Kinley Wolfe. The Front Range-based runner finished in 13:48. Brooke Reynolds of Ascent Classical Academy was second in 13:56.
“It’s been a sacred, deep honor to coach these three inspiring Durango young women to such head-shaking, beyond words noble efforts,” coach Ilg said. “Our few Western Slope warrioress’ gave the far more wealthy and deep Front Range programs all they could handle, and if they would have seeded our girls in the first wave, it could have been a much different ending.
“Endless gratitude to all the race organizers, race volunteers, conscious parents and all of you that help support Durango Trail Runners.”