Competing for Western State Colorado University this spring, sophomore distance runner-and Bayfield High School alumna-Jessica Cusick missed qualifying for the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships' 800-meter final by one place, coming in ninth (2:22.24) in the prelims.
She'd also ran a leg on WSCU's fourth-place distance medley relay at the RMAC Indoor Championships back in February but, by similar luck she'd face individually in May, the quartet did not qualify for nationals.
Always a conference force in all three seasons each athletic year, Western was runner-up at last October's RMAC Cross-Country Championships, likewise when revisiting Spearfish, S.D., for the Black Hills State-hosted Indoor T&F Championships, and ditto at the Western State-staged Outdoor T&F Championships.
So when a campaign concludes, and veteran stars' eligibility expires, programs such as the Mountaineers usually reload, rarely rebuild. And, along if-it-ain't-broke-don't-fix-it lines, do so seeking similar talent.
So with one former BHS standout already on its rosters (Cusick was classified as a redshirt-freshman in cross-country), why not pursue another with a similar pedigree?
Western State did just that, scoring now-graduated Wolverine harrier Bridget Goddard.
"She is an excellent student and comes highly recommended by coach Chip Hodlmair at Bayfield, who is an alumnus of our program," said WSCU head cross-country and assistant track (distance) coach Jennifer Michel.
"Bridget contacted us this winter following an indoor meet that she competed in here," she continued. "We spoke with her over the phone and e-mail a couple times during the track season, but were unable to meet her in person until she competed at the State meet with her relay team this spring."
That proved to be a pretty good time for a face-to-face. Though she didn't make the field in the 800, 1,600 or 3,200-meter runs at the 2017 CHSAA Class 3A Championships, Goddard ran the long leg on the Wolverines' sprint medley (100-100-200-400) relay, which placed eighth in 1:54.55. That finished boosted the BHS girls to ninth overall, as well as best amongst Intermountain League schools.
Warming up for the weather-wracked meet in Lakewood with a stop at the previous weekend's Monte Vista Last Chance, Goddard and medley-mates Claire Belmear, Tymbree Florian and Maddi Foutz had prevailed, with Goddard additionally clocking a winning 2:28.84 in the 800.
At the longest of high-school competition distances, she'd qualified for the 2013 3A Cross-Country Championships as a freshman, finishing as Bayfield's No. 2 runner-behind senior and State Champion Eva-Lou Edwards-in Colorado Springs, and returned to the grand finale her junior year as BHS' lone representative.
Throw in a little low-post basketball experience gained early in her prep career, and you have some malleable promise appealing to an instructor like, say, Mountaineer head track coach Chris Bradford. Or Michel, a 2001 Western graduate, 1999 D-II Cross-Country Runner-of-the-Year, 2016 Colorado Running Hall-of-Famer, and a former basketball player at Wheat Ridge H.S.
"As far as Bridget's training group, we will see how she develops this fall," said Michel, whose Mountaineer women placed top-five at every XC race attended in 2016, "as far as to what we will have her plan to compete in for track."
"She progressed well, and looks to have good potential at the college level with the right dedication, training progression and women's team that we have," she added. "We look forward to having her join us!"
DYNAMIC AND DECORATED: Speaking of Michel's "women's team," in chasing the aforementioned USTFCCCA award, Western's distance trio of Alicja Konieczek, Georgia Porter and Sophie Seward was crucial.
The three tallied 13 various All-American honors and multiple Konieczek national titles-one being her facility-record 16:24.22 in the 5,000 meters at the NCAA Outdoor T&F Championships-in 2016-17.
Western's women combined to finish third in the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association's NCAA Division II Program-of-the-Year points last year, and the Mountaineers took third at the cross-country nationals in Tampa, Fla., eighth at the indoor nationals in Birmingham, Ala., and fifth at the outdoor nationals in Bradenton, Fla.