Five years ago, the Denver East Boys and Girls Cross Country teams both qualified for the Colorado State Championships at the regional championships hosted at NW Open Spaces Park in Northglenn. This marked the first time both teams had qualified in the same year. The Angels returned to the Northglenn course on Thursday, on an unusually warm day for late October, and repeated this accomplishment in definitive fashion; collectively, it was the best performance by Denver East at Regionals in program history.
In the Boys Championship race, the top-5 runners for East were a dominant presence in the lead pack from the first half mile to the end of the race, with just a single runner substantially ahead of this pack. Like the week prior, sophomore Jonas Scudamore and senior Quinn Higgins ran together for nearly the entire race. The pair was never outside the top half dozen runners, eventually moving up to 3rd and 4th place entering the final mile. In the final kick, Scudamore (16:17) would eventually run-down 2nd place right before the finish line, behind only Erie’s Evan Krauss, who currently owns the 6th fastest time in Colorado. Higgins finished 4th in 16:22. Freshman Henry Bennett was again the top freshman in his race, moving up to 11th place over the last mile. Senior Ian Logan stuck with his teammates in the lead pack, finishing 13th in 16:53. A single place behind, senior Corbin Hobert held on to 14th place in his first race back in more than a month – good enough to help the Angels secure first place in the meet and give him some momentum heading into State Meet. Senior Harry Hittle, who has held down the #5 or #6 position on the Angels’ varsity most of the year, was coming off a couple disappointing races; on Thursday, Hittle ran the first mile a smidge more conservatively than he had most of the season, leaving him ready to move up throughout the race, including passing a handful of runners in the final sprint to grab 24th place as East’s 6th runner in 17:34. Junior Connor Beardsley (17:45), who prior to this season had no varsity experience, but who has held a varsity spot for every meet he has raced in 2022, was East’s #7 runner on Thursday and 34th overall. Last week’s hero, senior Ben Hopper (18:22), moved up to 45th place overall, with junior Kai Luna (18:24) in 46th – had East needed either of these runners in the #5 spot, they would have provided enough for East to advance to State. Five of East’s boys finished inside the top-15 overall, which would have qualified each of them as individuals for State. Together, they totaled a meager 44 points to take the Regional Championship and easily qualify as a team. The Regional Championship is the first for the Angels in a really long time; the closest East has been in memory was 2012, when the first, second and third place teams had an identical number of points, but East was awarded 3rd based on the “6th runner rule.” On Thursday no such tie breaker was needed; the Angels were trailed by the other state-qualifying teams: Fairview with 57, Monarch with 83, and Erie with 84.
Up front in the Girls Championship race, sophomore Rosie Mucharsky (18:46) ran with the lead three runners most of the first mile, faded to 4th in the middle mile, and battled back with a great finishing kick to take 3rd place overall. Just a bit further back, junior Grace Todd (19:42) steadily moved her way into the coveted top-15, eventually out dueling a couple runners in the final stretch to take 13th overall. Junior Sophia Shiroff (20:35) fought off a nasty respiratory virus, the heat, and the competition, to hold on to 27th place for Angels as their 5th runner – a good 20 places better than the Angels had hoped their 5th runner would finish. That strong placing of the top-5 East runners was largely delivered by ninth graders Julieta Ochoa (who managed a PR despite the heat) and Scout Chomas, both of whom stormed through the field and passed Shiroff and many other runners to grab 20th and 23rd place in 20:25 and 20:30, far exceeding expectations in their debuts at the Regional Championships. Junior stalwart Sasha Bull ran to a 38th place finish in 21:13 as East’s 6th runner, while junior Avery Ash, making her first varsity appearance in a championship race, raced to 48th place in 21:46. Ninth grader Kairine Brown was 54th in 21:58 and sophomore Lila Cypers was 59th in 22:21. The East Girls finished with 86 points, 20 points better than projected, to take 3rd place, behind Boulder (61 points) and Fairview (70 points) and ahead of fourth place Broomfield (95 points). Having missed making the State meet by a single point last year, being 59 points ahead of 5th place of Monarch was particularly sweet.
The Denver East Angels Cross Country Teams will race at the Colorado State Meet at the Norris Penrose Event Center on Saturday, October 29. The Boys’ team looks poised to improve on their 11th place finish from one year ago while the Girls could threaten the 8th place finish from 2019, which was the best in school history for an East Girls’ team. The Boys race at 9:40am and the Girls at 11:00am.
DPS League Meet Afterward:
To put an exclamation point on how meaningful sweeping the team titles at the league meet has become, check out DPS results at Regional Championships around Colorado. Denver South Boys qualified for State out of 5A Region 2, and the Northfield and George Washington Boys and Girls Teams qualified for State out of 4A Region 3. Five boys from DPS finished in the top-4 at their respective regionals. DPS will be represented at State as well as any league in Colorado.
PS: Don’t forget to get your banquet tickets soon. So much to celebrate this season!