Basalt’s Maley rallies late to defend her cross country state championship |

Basalt’s Maley rallies late to defend her cross country state championship

The Longhorn girls finished sixth behind Maley’s second straight title

Basalt High School junior Katelyn Maley, center, stands on the podium after winning the Class 3A girls’ state cross country championship on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, in Colorado Springs.
Courtesy photo

Katelyn Maley’s recent dreams had been of the state championship course. Part of this stemmed from excitement, but most was from the mounting pressure of trying to repeat success.

The Basalt High School junior came into the weekend as the defending individual Class 3A state champion in cross country and she knew she would be racing with a target on her back this time around. Maley also won the 3A girls 1,600-meter run (or the mile) as a sophomore back in the spring at the state track and field championships.

“It felt a lot different actually. Last year I kind of felt like I had no pressure, like nothing to lose. And this year I definitely felt like I had more pressure, pressure I kind of put on myself,” Maley said Saturday afternoon. “I had to talk to my parents and talk to my coaches about it and I had to fix my mindset and whatever outcome would happen I was going to be happy with it. So, I’m super grateful that it did work. I’ve been thinking about this race for a while. I have dreams about it.”

Last fall, Maley dominated the finale from start to finish. This year, she had to overcome warmer-than-usual temperatures and a tougher field of runners, but the outcome was the same.

When the finish line came into view at the Norris Penrose Event Center on Saturday in Colorado Springs, she left her competition behind to successfully defend her state championship and even cut a couple of seconds off her previous best mark on the course.

“She knew if she was going to win, she needed to go from the gun and really take it out hard and string out the field as much as possible,” said Amy Rollins, who coaches the BHS cross country team alongside her father, longtime head coach Ron Lund. “She just ran a really smart race. She put the pressure on the chase pack early on. She did get caught with about a half a mile to go.”

Blaming mostly the heat, Maley did lose her lead in the second half of the race but had enough time to regroup. Not only did she regain control of the race, she pulled away as she entered the finish arena and came in with a time of 18 minutes, 37.1 seconds, finishing more than 10 seconds ahead of second place, Stargate sophomore Allison Pippert (18:47.6).

“Something that I have been working on in races is not accepting a lower place. If someone makes a move, it’s easy to be, ‘Oh, second is fine,’” Maley said. “I just tried to stay mentally tough. I worked my way back toward her and then I caught her with a quarter mile to go and in that quarter mile you have a hill and then you go into the arena. So that last hill I really had to pump my arms and hope for the best. Going into the arena it was just everything I had left.”

Maley won the 2020 state championship in 18:39, so she was able to finish a touch quicker on Saturday despite the heat. It was the third consecutive individual title for the BHS girls, as then-junior Sierra Bower won it for the Longhorns in 2019 when she set the 3A girls’ course record in 18:00.1.

“She is such a seasoned competitor. She knows what she wants and she knows how to race and she showed that today,” Rollins said of Maley. “She kind of feels like she has a target on her back. But she also mentioned that she kind of likes that feeling. She likes being out front and knowing that’s where she belongs. There is no question that she belongs out front. She is comfortable up there. She has the confidence to know that’s her place and she seems to really thrive off of it. I think she handles it beautifully and it doesn’t seem to get in her mind too much.”

Maley wasn’t alone in the top 10, as her junior teammate Ava Lane finished eighth in 19:16.1, with Maley saying “that is honestly more exciting than anything” to watch her friend land on the podium with her.

Basalt High School junior Katelyn Maley, right, finished in first place in the 3A girls state cross country championships on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, at the Norris Penrose Event Center in Colorado Springs.
Chancey Bush/The Gazette

As a team, the Longhorn girls finished sixth with 143 points, while The Classical Academy defended its title to win a state record 14th team championship. Alamosa, which edged Basalt in the regional hosted by Coal Ridge, finished second.

“This 3A field was incredibly deep and probably one of the most competitive 3A state championships we’ve ever seen,” Rollins said. “So, to come out with sixth place is great. We are thrilled. Everyone ran to their potential and stayed tough the whole time.”


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