On a seasonably warm, sunny day, the Denver East Cross Country teams took to the flat course at the Northwest Open Spaces Park in Northglenn for the 5A Region 1 Cross Country Championship with a chance of qualifying for the Colorado State Meet on the line.
Going into the Girls race, the Angels knew they had their best chance at qualifying for State in a very long time. Nobody currently around is certain when an East girls team qualified for the State Meet, but we’re pretty certain it hasn’t happened for at least twenty years. From the shot of the starting gun, the Angel girls went aggressive after this goal. East Angel red was prominent among the top-20 runner from the first mile. The East runners hung on valiantly through the entire 5k, and it was obvious as the runners came through the last ½ mile that the Angels season would be extended another nine days – it was only a question of how high up among the top-4 teams had they finished. Senior Laurel Kruger hung on for a 9th place finish while junior Lilly Cory moved up strongly to grab 15th place with a personal best of 19:56. Freshman AlanaMarie Barros, senior Nell Salzman, and sophomore Anna Lucy Buddenhagen finished 20th, 21st and 22nd, to give East a total of 87 points, behind only State #3 ranked Arvada West. In a demonstration of East’s great team depth, the Angel’s 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th runners were ahead of their counterparts from every other team in Region 1, with freshman Abby Howard in 24th, sophomores Lindsey Weyant in 27th and Elena Thoman in 35th and freshman Christina Doolan in 43rd. Howard, Weyant and Thoman all ran to personal best times at 5K.
Region 1 for the Boys is loaded with very good teams, including State ranked #3 Dakota Ridge, #7 Arvada West, #10 Legend, and traditional power Arapahoe High School. Even with a great race, finishing better than 5th place to grab one of the coveted state-qualifying spots seemed to be most likely out of reach. Then the East boys went out and raced. It was not a given that senior Harrison Scudamore would be able to repeat as Regional Championship from the year prior, but he ran a controlled first 2 miles and was able to pull away in the end to earn the win. Further back, sophomores Asher Hoyt and Will Daley fought hard to get into the top-15, eventually moving up to 20th and 21st place with Daley beating his previous personal best time by 35 seconds in 16:51. Sophomore Riley Nickols moved up well over the second half of the race to beat his personal best for 5K by 50 seconds for 36th place in 17:42. Also starting from deep in the pack and moving their way up smartly were freshman Xander Pacini and senior Jackson Adams who finished in personal bests of 17:59 and 18:00, in Pacini’s case a 50 second improvement, for 49th and 50th place. Freshman Ian Trautwein and senior Patrick Cox finished in 61st and 62nd and senior Henry Kaufman in 81st. As the Angels congratulated one another for the fast times run on the Northglenn course, the team and coaches knew they had exceeded expectations, but a trip to the State meet still seemed unlikely. When the team results were posted, the celebrating began; East had finished 4th, behind only Dakota Ridge, Legend and Arapahoe, and 21 points ahead of Arvada West; the Boys Team would be joining the Girls Team for the trip to Colorado Springs for the 2017 Colorado State Meet.
State Meet is at the Norris Penrose Center in Colorado Springs on Saturday, October 28. The Boys race at 9:20 and the Girls at 10:40. If you are a fan of the team or athlete not running, please let Coach Kohuth know if you want to go down to support your team. We will try to organize carpools to the race so East is as well represented by fans as by athletes this year!
Remember, we will celebrate this exceptional season on Sunday Dec 3 at our end-of-season banquet. More details on that soon.