Niwot star Cruz Culpepper capped off his sensational 2018 season by taking first overall at the Class 4A state championships, held Oct. 27 in Colorado Springs.
Despite struggling “a bit” during the hilly second mile, the junior finished in 15 minutes, 48 seconds to claim his first-ever individual state title.
“I didn’t have my best day, but I felt solid,” Culpepper said about his performance.
Niwot’s Ares Reading came in just behind his teammate, as he has in nearly all of their races this season, with a time of 15:58. Like Culpepper, the senior admitted to struggling during the race.
“In the beginning it hurt quite a bit,” he said. “Dylan [Shubert] made a move a little after a mile in and took the lead and that kind of took it out of me, which caught me by surprise.”
Reading ended up beating the Thompson Valley junior by four seconds to secure second place overall.
Unfortunately, the Cougar team was unable to capitalize on the top two individual finishes. Senior Jack Volf, who normally runs in the number three or four spot, was out with a foot injury, putting pressure on some of the less experienced runners. Niwot ended with 136 team points on the day, far out of contention for the team title, which was won by conference foe Centaurus, which had four finishers in the top-20.
“Our guys are fit, they’re talented, and they have plenty of potential,” Niwot head coach Kelly Christensen said after his team’s fifth-place finish. “I think these hard losses, they hurt and they make you question everything, but I think it’s what they need to go through to build a little grit. They need to realize how bad they want it and how bad