The 15 teams that participated in the Lake County Cross Country Invitational at Colorado Mountain College last Saturday enjoyed a beautiful day of racing. The 3-kilometer middle-school course and 5-kilometer high-school course challenged the runners with some long climbs and wooded trails.

The first group to race was the middle-school boys. Eighth-grader Charlie Koch was the first Panther to finish. He ran 9 minutes, 46 seconds and took 17th place. Morgan Fitzgerald, also an eighth-grader, was 28th with a time of 10:14. Other Lake County boys to compete, some in their first-ever cross-country race, were Joe Koch (46th in 11:24), Tristan Varco (55th in 12:37), Cain Gipson (58th in 12:58), Ethan Moyer (61st in 13:55) and Jonah Osborn (62nd in 14:45). The boys finished sixth as a team in the nine-team field.

In the middle-school girls' race, Jessie Coffin led the team with a 52nd-place finish and a time of 12:54. She was followed by teammates Jackie Williams (55th in 12:57), Caroline Benney (62nd in 13:37), Miah Velasquez (63rd in 14:14), Brittany Romero (64th in 15:15), and Jasmin Rea (65th in 15:32). The girls took seventh out of nine teams.

Robert Tekansik set the pace for the LCHS boys with a 14th-place finish. His time of 19:42 tied his personal-best time and was a very strong performance considering the challenging course. Despite getting braces on his teeth the night before, Jacob Bryant had an outstanding race and ran more than a minute faster than last week. He took 23rd place with a time of 20:28. Andy MacIsaac developed shin splints last week, but he was still able to run 21:36 and finish in 45th place. Brandon Leverett, whose primary fall sport is football and who was a member of the 4x800-meter team that finished eighth at the State Track Meet last spring, participated in his first 5-kilometer run on Saturday as training for his 2012 track season. His respectable time of 22:53 earned him 56th place out of the 68-person field.

With four members, the Lake County boys were able to score as a team, and they ended up ninth out of 13 teams.

For the girls, Neyva Hernandez ran 27:35 and took 36th place before heading down to Salida to play a club-league soccer game. Competing in her first meet of the season, sophomore Hannah Lufkin completed the course in 30:06 and placed 43rd. Although she twisted her ankle twice on the trails, Cecelia Lopez finished the race in 51st place with a time of 37:44.

The girls did not score as a team because they fell short of the four-person requirement for counting as a complete team.

The citizens' race was a small, seven-person field. Mark Walters, the cross-country coach from Buena Vista High School, won the race for the second year in a row. Once again, Allen Burch, the Lake County Middle School cross-country coach, finished second to Walters. His time of 21:32 fell short of Walters' 21:05. Doug Ayers took third in 24:12. Lille Olsen-Sullivan relived her high-school cross-country years by running the course in 30:33. Her younger brother, 7-year-old Jace Peters, ran most of the race with her and earned a time of 30:46. After photographing the meet, Ann E. Wibbenmeyer participated, finishing in 36:53. Cindy MacIsaac completed the course in 39:54, after cheering on her son Andy in the varsity boys race.

The cross-country teams will compete at Clear Creek High School on Tuesday, Sept. 13, and in Gunnison on Saturday.