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Niwot's best compete at prestigious Penn Relays in Philadelphia

A small handful of Niwot High School track and field athletes made their way to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, last week for the Penn Relays.

The annual meet, held at the University of Pennsylvania's historic Franklin Field from Thursday, April 25 through Saturday, April 27, featured some of the nation's best high school runners, including Niwot's own Addison Ritzenhein. NHS had athletes competing in five different track events.

Ritzenhein, a sophomore recently named the Gatorade National Girls Cross Country Player of the Year, dominated the girls' 3,000-meter championships on April 26 with a first-place time of 9 minutes, 17.81 seconds. She finished only 2.51 seconds behind the meet's all-time record of 9:15.3, set nearly 40 years ago by former U.S. Olympian Cathy Schiro.

The day prior, Ritzenhein became the first high school athlete to sign a name, image and likeness (NIL) sponsorship with On, an athletic shoe and sports apparel company which sponsors On Athletics Club. A growing aspect of high school/college athletics, NIL deals allow student-athletes to profit financially from the use of their name, image and likeness while maintaining their amateur status. Her father, former University of Colorado Boulder track runner and Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein, is the head coach of On Athletic Club.

Not far behind Ritzenhein, Niwot senior Olivia Alessandrini took fourth in the girls' 3,000-meter race at 9:37.21.

Reese Kasper, Julia Rudolph, Eliana Henriques, and Kate Schmidthuber comprised Niwot's 4x400 girls relay team. The quartet finished seventh in their heat at 4:00.10 and did not qualify for the championship race. In the girls' 4x100 relay, those same four finished 66th in the overall team results with a time of 50.37 seconds.

Four Niwot boys, Abraham Menjivar, Kingston Staton, Mats Lehan, and Weston Domich, also made the trip to Philly for two relay races. They took 79th overall in the 4x100 (45.16 seconds) before finishing sixth in their heat of the 4x400 (3:29.05), falling short of qualifying for the championship race.

Looking ahead, Niwot is registered for the 2024 Stutler Twilight, which will be held on Tuesday, April 30 at Eaglecrest High School in Aurora. The Cougars are then scheduled to compete in the Longs Peak League meet at Longmont High School from May 3-4.


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