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Dishon leads Niwot girls to second straight state title

Series: Niwot Cross Country | Story 5

October 30, 2019 | View PDF

Jocelyn Rowley

The Niwot girls captured their second straight team title at the 2019 Class 4A state cross country championship, held on Oct. 26 in Colorado Springs. From left: Taylor James, Amelia Philofsky, Maddie Shults, Joelle McDonald, Samrawit Dishon, Eva Lennart, and Eva Klingbeil.

Niwot senior Samrawit Dishon was holding on to a slim lead heading into the toughest stretch of the state cross country race when she got a boost from an unexpected source-her closest competitors.

"It was kind of cool to have them both there like that," Dishon said of Eagle Valley sisters Joslin and Samantha Blair, who trailed the front-runner by just a few meters. "They were hyping each other up and talking to each other, and I thought, 'This is great. I know they're not talking to me, but I'm going to use it.' I think it also pushed me more to know that there were other teams who were also fighting for each other-it gave me more of an incentive to fight for my team."

Dishon went on to win the race and the Class 4A state individual title with a time of 18 minutes, 11 seconds, three seconds faster than Samantha and 16 seconds ahead of Joslin Blair. But it was what happened in the next 55 seconds that was the highlight of Dishon's day at the Norris Penrose Center in Colorado Springs.

"I finished my race and then was holding my breath...then the announcer said 'Niwot's number two...three...four...five' and I let out a big breath of relief. I believed in them, and I knew they would be there, but I loved turning around and seeing them there. It was just kind of unbelievable."

Running in their customary pack, her teammates finished in quick succession. Sophomore Amelia Philofsky took sixth overall, with a time of 18:45, followed by freshman Maddie Shults (18:56) in ninth, junior Taylor James (18:59) in 11th and senior Joelle McDonald (19:05) in 13th. The Cougars ended with a score of 37 points to claim their second straight Class 4A team title.

"We knew our girls had potential to have five up there that high, but we didn't know what the order would look like, but it came together," Niwot head coach Kelly Christensen said afterwards. Also competing for the Cougars were sophomores Eva Klingbeil (20:00) and Eva Lennart (20:16), who finished 41st and 50th respectively.

Christensen was thrilled for Dishon, who has been a particular success story for the program since joining as a sophomore in 2017. In the past year, she has helped lead Niwot to two state cross country titles, a state track title, a regional title at the Niwot Desert Twilight Festival, and a team title in the distance medley relay at the New Balance Nationals, where she also took first in the emerging elite mile with a personal-best time of 4:53.18.

"There's not a more pure human than Samrawit," he said of the senior's win at state. "So for her to be healthy all year, and for her to have plenty left in the tank, and to start to see her potential, I think that's more life rewarding her...for sacrificing so many things for her team and always being just a good person. I think it's validation, and I think she got that today."

Though the Niwot girls were favorites to repeat as Class 4A champions in 2019, both Christensen and his runners said that defending the state cross country title was just as hard as claiming it for the first time in 2018.

"There's too many other good athletes, teams, and coaches out here, and to come in thinking we would do that is disrespectful to the sport," the coach said. "Battle Mountain ran amazing again today-I think they put five in the top 25-and it's pretty special if you're running that good to beat that."

However, the Cougars did have a few advantages this season compared to last, according to McDonald.

"Last year, it was so close and there was more stress around it," she said. "This year, I feel like we had more confidence and experience."

Jocelyn Rowley

Samrawit Dishon stands between the Blair sisters from Eagle Valley on the awards podium at the Class 4A state cross country championships on Oct. 26.

Dishon agreed, "I feel like last year we really didn't believe as much that we could be champions. We lived it every day, but I don't think we really knew that we could be champions. I think the difference this year is we knew that we could be champions if we worked hard and fought for each other."

Class 4A State Cross Country Championships

Team scores: Niwot 37, Battle Mountain 71, Air Academy 117, Durango 147, Palmer Ridge 156, Eagle Valley 222, Thompson Valley 229, Golden 238, Centaurus 246, Green Mountain 296.

Top 10 Individuals: 1. Samrawit Dishon 18:11.9; 2. Samantha Blair, Eagle Valley, 18:15.1; 3. Joslin Blair, Eagle Valley, 18:27.9; 4. Madeleine Burns, Durango, 18:33.6; 5. Ella Johnson, Glenwood Springs, 18:37.4; 6. Amelia Philofsky 18:45.6; 7. Hope Stark, Cheyenne Mountain, 18:46.2; 8. Grace Johnson, Battle Mountain, 18:49.2; 9. Elliot Pribramsky, Battle Mountain, 18:54.5; 10. Madison Shults 18:56.9


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