• Campbell Houston led the Clear Creek boys with his seventh-place

BAILEY — Campbell Houston couldn’t have been prouder.

Sure, the Clear Creek High School senior placed seventh in a time of 23 minutes, 21.6 seconds in the season-opening Husky Invitational at Bailey Outdoor Education and Recreation Area on Thursday. That was nice and all, but sounding like the leader that he is, Houston was more complimentary of the efforts of his younger teammates Bode Baker and Xander Taylor.

“I’m super proud of them,” Houston said. “It’s about the team. Going out and crushing it yourself feels good, but when all your teammates do it too, it makes it that much better.”

The Golddiggers, running without Reese Onago (injury) and Seattle Schuessler (non-injury), relied on the first-year runners to step up, and they did.

Baker, a sophomore, had never run cross country before this year. And Friday’s race, hosted by Platte Canyon High School, was a grind to say the least. But coming in 11th in his debut was something he wasn’t expecting.

“I did not (expect that),” Baker said. “I came in here just hoping to finish.”

That was his mindset midway through the race, but he did more than just finish. He exceeded even his own expectations.

“I don’t know how to explain it,” Baker said.

He did, however, have a few superlatives to explain how he felt throughout his first race. It was “awful” and mentally exhausting, but he made it through.

Taylor, who ran for Clear Creek Middle School’s team last year, finished just a couple minutes back.

Houston couldn’t have been happier for his younger teammates.

“It’s a simple sport,” Houston said. “It’s just a matter of getting used to your pacing. For Bode and Xander, there is nowhere to go but up, especially for Bode, who has never run before.”

Editor Michael Hicks can be reached at 303-350-1039 or via email at mhicks@evergreenco.com. Follow him on Twitter @MHicksEditor.