As the leaders began crossing the finish line, Bayfield head cross country coach Josh Walton was undoubtedly elated to see two Wolverines complete the Sept. 28, 2018, Sweitzer Lake Invitational amongst the top 10 runners.
Over a minute behind 2A Telluride's Jaden Evans, who clocked a winning 16:21.31, and still 30 seconds behind third-place Ethan Bartlett of Paonia, neither Elco Garcia, Jr., nor Jonas Nanaeto would leave Delta County as a champion.
But their efforts, synced up for most of the race, made it possible for BHS to depart as the champions.
Nanaeto ended up fifth with a time of 17 minutes, 24.66 seconds, while Garcia held on to seventh with his 17:35.11.
Their placings, however, only counted for four, and six points respectively (THS did not enter enough runners to qualify for team scoring), and equaled 2A Ouray's initial 10 points achieved by fourth-place Cooper Rondinelli (17:20.20) and eighth-place Zach Briggs (18:11.33).
With runner-up John Ames (16:41.62) and sixth-place Shad Lewis (17:29.69) also earning top-ten status, meet-hosting 3A Delta had the early low score of six points, while 2A PHS also equaled Bayfield and Ouray with 10 - meaning all the teams' No. 3, 4 and 5 runners' performances would be crucial.
Bayfield's Zeb Shields (18:29.91) was the first No. 3 in, beating OHS' Cade Norwood by nearly 10 seconds for 13th. And after Paonia's Alyster Birk came in 16th, BHS' Rylan Ross became the first No. 4 to finish when he took 17th in 18:53.95.
Xander Hovenstine (20:12.50) then placed 27th and received 23 points-giving the Wolverine boys a winning score-5 low of 59 points, despite OHS' fourth and fifth finishers earning 23rd and 24th overall. The Ouray Trojans scored 61 points and settled for second.
James Chenowith (20:23.49) was a good tiebreaker for 3A Bayfield to have if needed, as he took 29th while Ouray's Rock Gibbs (20:34.34) ended up 34th.
Rounding out the team standings were 3A Olathe (67 points), Paonia (68), DHS (92) and 2A Meeker (147).
Opting to stay close to home for the BHS Homecoming activities, most of the Wolverine girls took a bye week.
Up next, the Wolverines will race at 3A Montezuma-Cortez's Ancient Trails Invitational on Friday, Oct. 5.