Aspen High’s cross country teams lace up for states |

Aspen High’s cross country teams lace up for states

Tim Mutrie

For the fifth consecutive year, the Aspen High School boys cross country team is headed to the Colorado State Cross Country Championships, slated for Saturday morning in Denver.

And this year the Aspen girls cross country team is also headed to states.

At last Saturday’s regional cross country meet in Aspen, the Aspen boys and girls teams finished second out of 15 teams from across the Western Slope to earn a berth to Saturday’s state meet at the Kent Country Day School south of Denver. Only the top three finishing teams at regionals advanced to states.

Aspen senior Michael Otte ran to a comfortable first-place finish in the boys race to claim his second straight West Region cross country title.

“Otte ran a conservative first mile and then took the lead about a quarter-mile later, running unopposed to the finish line,” said Chris Keleher, coach of the Aspen boys and girls cross country teams.

Otte ran the 5K course in the vicinity of the Aspen Municipal Golf Course in 17 minutes, 30 seconds, some 30 seconds ahead of the second runner.

“Otte finished in the top 15 last year at the state championships and is looking to improve on that performance Saturday,” Keleher added.

Aspen’s Conor Flynn took fourth in the boys race (18:03), followed by Jeff Anderson in ninth (18:52), Franko Peters (15th, 19:13) and Nick Cortez (27th, 19:57). Aspen finished second at regionals, behind Gunnison and ahead of Mancos.

Jenny Hamilton led the charge for the Aspen girls team, finishing the 5K course in fourth position with a time of 21:50. Megan Lund, of Basalt’s Alpine Christian Academy, won the race (21:08).

Hamilton “has been a real leader all season,” Keleher said. “She’s just a sophomore and she’ll be running in her second state championship meet.”

Aspen’s Besha Deane finished eighth (22:15). Dylan Braun took 16th (22:36), followed by Korry Johnson (22nd, 23:22) and Erin Kiernan (23:57).

Alpine Christian Academy finished atop the team standings last Saturday, followed by Aspen and Gunnison.

“The girls team is very young,” Keleher said. “Two girls have experience at the state championships, but three of the runners are in their first season of cross country running. If the girls have the races they are capable of having and run intelligent races within themselves, they will finish well as a team at states.”

The boys team has a good chance to post a top-five performance at states, Keleher predicted, “if they all have the races they are capable of having.

“There is a lot of experience on this team, as Michael, Conor, Franko and Jeff all competed last year in the state meet,” he continued. “It’ll be an exciting race to watch.”

The Aspen boys state race starts at 10 a.m. at the Kent School in Denver. The Aspen girls are slated to begin their race at 11:30 a.m.

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