Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Jocelyn Rowley

Cross Country: Boys and girls take second in Regional and qualify for state


October 26, 2017

Jocelyn Rowley

The Niwot boys cross country team took second place overall at the Class 4A Region 3 race at Lyons H.S. on Oct. 19.

Niwot freshman Taylor James took top honors and junior Maggie Smith put an exclamation point on her comeback this season with an impressive fourth-place finish at the Class 4A Region 3 meet at Lyons H.S. last Thursday. With a time of 19 minutes 27 seconds, Smith finished right behind Valor Christian runners Keely Jones and Taylor Whitfield (2nd and 3rd) to post her first top-five time of the year.

Smith and freshman James settled in at the head of the pack early, and led as a tandem until James pulled away in the third mile. The ninth-grader went on to claim first place overall with a time of 19:16.

After the race, an exuberant Smith said she is fully healed and more than ready for a return trip to Colorado Springs next weekend, which she earned with the team’s second-place finish on the day. In her sophomore year, she missed most of cross country and all of track season with an injury.

“The first part of the race, I felt good, I wasn’t hurting, and I was running positive the whole time,” she gushed. “I was working with my fellow runner, Taylor James, and we worked so hard together, and it was a perfect race. I’m really excited for state.”

“They ran great,” Niwot head coach Kelly Christensen said of his top two girls on the day. “I think Taylor’s got a whole lot left. And Maggie, it’s great to see her out front again. She’s fighting harder than she ever has.”

Elsewhere for the Cougars, sophomore Joelle McDonald (20:31) finished 12th, followed by senior Jeri Wilcox (20:49) in 15th, Annabelle Huddle (20:54) in 16th and Samrawit Dishon (20:55) in 17th place. With the two top-five finishers, the Niwot girls clinched second in the team competition with 48 points, just five behind Valor Christian (43) and well ahead of Centaurus (70).

A similar dynamic played out in the boys’ race, where the Cougars nabbed the second place medal (and a state meet berth) in the team competition and a familiar name occupied one of the top two spots.

Niwot’s Ares Reading kept pace with Valor Christian’s Cole Sprout for the first two-thirds of the race, then fell back. Sprout, runner-up for individual state title in 2016 and top contender this year, finished in 16 minutes flat to claim the top spot, 20 seconds ahead of Reading (16:20) in second.

“I felt good,” the junior said after the race. “I just wanted to stick with him [Sprout] for two miles and just hold on the rest of the way, and that’s what I did.”

The rest of the boys’ team ran in formation behind the two front-runners, doing battle with the pack from Northern League rival Centaurus. Unfortunately, the Warriors’ top four were just a little bit faster, and Centaurus took first in the team competition with 29 points to Niwot’s 36. Sophomore Cruz Culpepper came in seventh overall, with a time of 16:45, followed by Benjamin Bi (16:46), Ethan Steiner (16:46), and Oskar Wells (16:46) in eighth, ninth and tenth, respectively. Junior Jack Volf (16:59) was 14th, and senior Kenny Lang came in 16th (17:04).

“We just wanted to see for two miles what it would feel like to run with Cole,” Christensen said of Readings’ performance on the day. “That gave us an indicator if that’s what we want to try again next week.”

“The guys showed a lot of maturity,” Christensen continued. “They packed it up well and worked well and they’re ready to go next week. I’m feeling really good about that.”

Overall, the coach was happy with the day’s outcome, since both teams accomplished their top goal--qualifying for the state meet next week in Colorado Springs.

“All in all, everything is about where I thought,” he said. “We learned a little bit and we got to see how they look when they’re pushing the pace again.”

10/20 — Class 4A Region 3 Cross Country Championship, Lyons H.S.

Boys Team scores — Centaurus 29, Niwot 36, Valor Christian 97, Standley Lake 107, Erie 125, George Washington 140, Thomas Jefferson 237, Northfield 239, Arvada 268, John F. Kennedy 293.

Jocelyn Rowley

Ares Reading crosses the finish line in the Class 4A Region 3 meet on Oct. 19.

Niwot individuals — 2. Ares Reading, 16:20; 7. Cruz Culpepper, 16:45; 8. Benjamin Bi, 16:45; 9. Ethan Steiner, 16:46; 10. Oskar Wells, 16:46; 14. Jack Volf, 16:59; 16. Kenny Lang, 17:04; 19. Caleb Bishop, 17:29; 25. Kamran Elahi, 17:53.

Girls Team scores — Valor Christian 43, Niwot 48, Centaurus 70, Standley Lake 112, George Washington 136, Erie 150, Northfield 218, Thomas Jefferson 245, John F. Kennedy 275, Vista PEAK 280, Alameda 303, Arvada 337.

Niwot individuals — 1. Taylor James, 19:16; 4. Maggie Smith, 19:27; 12. Joelle McDonald 20:31; 15. Jeri Wilcox, 20:49; 16. Annabelle Huddle 20:54; 17. Samrawit Dishon, 20:55; 36. Mallory Finley, 22:00; 40. Eva Lennert, 22:07; 47. Elise Gillett, 22:42.


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