Seven of Aspen's 12 runners were making their 3A state cross-country championship debuts Saturday in Colorado Springs.
The Skiers looked comfortable on the hilly Norris-Penrose Event Center course, however, producing performances that no doubt will give the young squad high hopes for the future.
Aspen's girls wound up finishing 14th, while its boys contingent finished 18th - one spot ahead of Basalt.
"It was a good, cold crisp day and things went pretty well," Skiers head coach Chris Keleher said. "It really was a good learning experience for everybody."
Anthony Thomas, of Brush, won the state title with a time of 16 minutes, 48.8 seconds - 18 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Jacob Benson, of Platte Canyon.
University, led by a third-place result from Garrett Coles, secured the team title with 71 points. Peak to Peak (85), Frontier Academy (93), Alamosa (95) and Salida (102) rounded out the top five.
Junior Hudson McNamee (18:41.9) paced Aspen in 38th. Fellow juniors Ben Moscona (19:13.3) and Mikey George (19:22.9) and sophomore Taggart Solomon (20:11.9) crossed the line in 53rd, 59th and 83rd out of 128.
"We packed them in, and everybody ran strong," Keleher said. "We'll be that much stronger next year - states is in the same spot."
Sophomore Zach Walsh (18:22.1) and senior Jacob Besser (18:29.2) were the Longhorns' top finishers in 24th and 31st. Freshman Lyle Luckett (20:20.6) and senior Gordon Murphy (20:33.5) wound up 92nd and 103rd.
Junior Megan Woodrow (21:53) led the Skiers girls in 29th. Senior Lily Isaacson (22:12.1) was 39th, freshman Nina Beidleman (23:04.2) 65th and junior Dominique Wojcik (23:14.5) 70th out of 126 runners.
Junior teammate Ryley Sutton (23:56.7) overcame some misfortune to finish 96th.
"In the middle of the course she got tangled up and went down at one point and got all scraped up," Keleher said. "She stood up, kept going and really toughed it out like the tough runner she is."
He continued, "Everybody is already excited for next season. We lose Lily unfortunately, but everybody else is back. We should have a good core to build off of. With a little more seasoning, we'll go out there and hopefully put Aspen cross country back on the map."