Speeding in front of the 2A girls’ pack and making a name for her home school, freshman Josephine Bush put the fresh-faced Telluride team on the map with her remarkable 10th place finish. Bush smoked the 5K course in 20:22.81, leaving most of her 75-person field behind in her pursuit of a State Championship medal.
“It was the biggest event ever,” Bush said of Saturday’s race, which hosted upwards of 1,000 high school runners from 2A through 5A division schools. “There were hundreds of people at the starting line and people all along the course… Motivationally, it helped you stay in the game since there was always someone there to cheer for you.”
And staying in the game was Bush’s goal on Saturday. Fresh off a strong race at the Regional Championships in Delta last weekend, where she placed fourth, Bush trotted to the starting line on Saturday ready to make a dash for State Meet distinction.
Asked about Bush’s chances prior to the race, Coach Keith Hampton maintained that he felt confident she could finish in the top 20, “with an outside chance at cracking the top ten.”
“Jo specializes in sprint events during track, but she clearly is also a strong distance runner,” Hampton said following Bush’s State Meet performance, where she fought hard for her 10th place finish.
As the gun went off, Bush used her speed to move into the top 10, crossing the quarter-mile mark in seventh place. She had dropped to 13th place by the two-mile mark, and maintained that position until the final 250 meters when she gave her parents and coach something to really cheer about – a dogged sprint to the finish, climbing the final short hill with determination to pull away from the pack.
Bush’s top 10 placing at such a high-level event was made even more impressive by the fact that she had competed in only four other races this season; A calf injury had sidelined her for the month leading up to the final meets of the year. And, as if a strong state showing wasn’t enough for this athlete, Bush returned home to help carry her club soccer team to a 3-3 tie with Cortez and 1-0 victory over Montrose on Sunday.
Bush said she was a little tired Sunday afternoon.
Also competing in Fort Collins for THS were freshman Ty Williams and sophomore Colton Rogers. Senior Kirk Holstrom qualified for the meet but was not able to run due to a conflict with the ACT test.
Williams entered Saturday’s race still reeling after his speedy finish at Regionals, where he placed third overall. Despite what Hampton called a “very strong depth of competition” in the 2A boys field, he felt Williams had a good shot at breaking into the top 20. Once again, Hampton’s instincts proved correct, with Williams crossing the finish line in 18:22.82, to take 19th place.
“Ty ran a great race,” said Hampton “He showed a lot of guts getting out fast in the first mile to try and grab a top place. He fought hard over the last mile to maintain his position. He will be a force to contend with in Colorado distance running over the next three years.”
Teammate Rogers struggled with cramps all through Saturday’s race. He came into the first mile in 31st place, but the cramp caused him to slow and he ultimately crossed the finish in 60th. “It was disappointing,” said Hampton. “Colton is an excellent runner. Bad days are a part of sports, you just hope they don’t happen in these types of races.”