Back in the race, back in front for Soroco’s Ben Kelley |

Back in the race, back in front for Soroco’s Ben Kelley

Soroco High School senior Ben Kelley took his time this summer and early this fall as he built up strength and trained to return to the cross country course after an injury late in the track season slowed him.

He didn't compete this fall until last weekend, but in that race and again Saturday, running in a meet in Craig put on by Moffat County High School, he proved he's back in a big way.

"I'm very glad to get back out here," he said. "I know I'm back now."

Competing at Craig's Loudy-Simpson Park, Kelley left the competition in the dust and ran away to win the day's race. He finished the 5-kilometer course in 16 minutes, 54 seconds, 42 seconds ahead of the nearest competitor.

Kelley said his foot, a hypermobile joint in particular, began to bother him late in the spring. It wasn't the kind of pain that demanded immediate service. In fact, it didn't seem to hinder him much at all. He continued racing, and was dominant at the state track meet, winning championships in each of his three events, the 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs, an accomplishment that earned him the Colorado High School Activities Association track athlete of the year honors.

But, he said that ankle wasn't something he was comfortable carrying into a new season, so he used off time in the summer to get it fixed.

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"It was something I could run on, but the more I ran on it the worse it got," he said. "So we took a lot of time, got an injection in it, my own platelets, ever since then it's been a lot better."

He's spent more time training for this season in a pool than he has on dirt trails, but it's paid off and he's proven plenty healthy. He won his first race of the season, last week at Fruita, and had no challenge Saturday in Craig. His time in Fruita, 16:08, was the fastest recorded this year in Class 2A, placing Kelley right at the top as the state championship favorite midway through the season.

He's placed fourth, eighth and 21st at state in his previous visits.

"It's been a good first couple of weeks. I'm looking forward and I think I'll be in good shape for state," he said. "I'm going for another state championship."

Saturday he led the way for the Soroco cross country team at the meet in Craig.

Brad Veilleux placed 28th on the boys side, finishing in 20:19. Alex Colby was 43rd in 21:17 and Josh Taing 60th in 22:24.

Soroco's girls team had strong results, as well. The Rams were led by Chloe Veilleux, who raced to fifth with a time of 20:30.

Charlee Veilleux was 22nd in 23:11 and Kourtney Bruner 26th in 23:40.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email or follow him on Twitter @JReich9.