Cross country: Hutton embracing distance running at Shining Mountain

Cliff Grassmick / Daily Camera
Shining Mountain’s Ginger Hutton has given up her volleyball career in pursuit of winning a state cross country title

Getting down to brass tacks, Ginger Hutton just likes running.

Extracting even more passion for the sport last year under the guidance of Melody Fairchild, the Shining Mountain senior discovered that cross country was exceptionally different than track.

So much so, she decided volleyball just wasn’t something she wanted to invest any more time in. A very good varsity player on the court last year, Hutton is fully devoting herself to a Lions cross country team that should be in the mix for a Class 2A state championship.

“Last year, I was doing volleyball practice for two hours, then immediately I’d go to cross country for the next two, and that got sort of busy,” Hutton said. “This year I decided to stick to one. I made a decision after volleyball season last year that I just liked running a little better. This year is the first that I’ve trained year-round, and I’ve really enjoyed it.

“(Fairchild’s) passion for running rubbed off on me a little, too, and that was another reason I chose it.”

You won’t see her out in competition for quite a while. She is coming off a strong summer in which she participated in a pair of national events (the Great Southwest Classic and the Junior Olympics), and her training schedule is going to keep her from full participation until mid-September.

But she feels better than ever coming off a couple of personal-best performances in the Junior Olympic meet (2 minutes, 14.55 seconds in the 800-meter run; 4:41.95 in the 1,500). A lot of the summer was spent training with new head cross country coach Tyler Haughness.

“I like cross country but I still feel like I need more experience,” said Hutton, who is still browsing for the best college fit. “My personal goal is (running a personal best), but I really think we could win state.”

For Haughness and a small team like Shining Mountain’s, one would think Hutton’s late availability would be hurting the team. In fact, it should help build it.

“She needs a pretty big break, she needs that rest that a lot of kids get after the state track meet,” Haughness said. “The support the team has for each other is so special. Even though she’s not going to be competing, she’s still going to be a big part of the team as a leader.”

At Thursday’s Cheyenne Mountain Stampede, the girls team ran well with Paisley Sheehan leading the way. Carla Theiner and Ella Baca were right there near the top, too.

Haughness wants good results for both the boys and girls teams, but he also explained that he wants them to have fun while putting in their good work. The more silly they learn to be, all the better in his eyes.

“They’re a lot hungrier than in the past, but something I want from them is to have fun,” he said. “I’m going to emphasize worrying not about the results, but what we can control, and special things are going to happen.”

That’s an attitude Hutton can embrace even though she is expected to be in the conversation for an individual state title, too.

“I think that approach relaxes us and keeps us from getting stressed out during our workouts,” Hutton said. “I’m excited for the rest of the season.”

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