Basalt’s Maley wins state championship; BHS and Aspen finish in the top four
3A GIRLS TEAM RESULTS
1. The Classical Academy (65 points); 2. Holy Family (113); 3. Basalt (121); 4. Aspen (123); 5. Faith Christian (128)
1. Katelyn Maley, Basalt (18:39); 2. Kennedy McDonald, TCA (19:13.4); 3. Allison Beasley, Peak to Peak (19:20.3); 4. Audrey Orstead, Faith Christian (19:23.8); 5. Sierra Bower, Basalt (19:24.4)
Also... 11. Ava Lane, Basalt (19:44.2); 12. Kylie Kenny, Aspen (19:57.1)
Between her dad and sister, Katelyn Maley had plenty of people in her ear during Saturday’s state championship cross country race in Colorado Springs. Still, she didn’t dare look behind her as she paced the field, so the Basalt High School sophomore had no idea the stage was all hers.
“I heard my dad say, ‘You have them by a little bit, but keep pushing,’ so I just kind of listened to the spectators and tried to not look behind. So I really didn’t know until the end,” Maley said of her sizable lead. “I really didn’t. I thought they were closer.”
Maley was the first across the finish line on Saturday at the Norris-Penrose Event Center, winning the Class 3A girls state championship in 18 minutes, 39 seconds. She came in more than 34 seconds ahead of runner-up Kennedy McDonald (19:13.4), a junior from The Classical Academy, while Peak to Peak senior Allison Beasley was another seven seconds back in third place (19:20.3). Faith Christian senior Audrey Orstead was fourth in 19:23.8.
For Basalt, it’s the second individual state champion in two years, after then-junior Sierra Bower won it all in 2019. Bower, a Furman commit, set a 3A course record in 18 minutes flat last fall (winning by 44 seconds), but settled for fifth Saturday as a senior in 19:24.4.
“It’s still amazing. I still feel like I’m in a dream. I was really happy with how everyone did, so it’s pretty cool,” Maley said. “My goal for a while has been to win a state championship, whether that was this year or in the next years. So I was kind of hoping. I knew I might be in the front pack, so I wasn’t really sure where I’d fall. But when I got the opportunity to take the lead, I just took it.”
Even without sophomore Sarah Levy, the team’s usual fourth runner, who was out with injury, the Longhorns managed to finish third as a team for the second consecutive year. BHS finished with 121 points, only eight points back of runner-up Holy Family. The Classical Academy again dominated the meet, winning its state record 13th championship with 65 points.
“We are pretty happy about it. We are blessed with some really good talent on this team,” BHS coach Ron Lund said of back-to-back third-place finishes after years of not even being able to record a team score at state. “It looked a lot like regionals, actually, at the beginning with her and Sierra taking it out. Katelyn looked pretty comfortable and no one really threatened her pretty much after halfway.”
Maley finished 12th at state as a freshman last year with a time of 20:00.8. But she really elevated her game this season, highlighted by her win at regionals in Durango, where Bower finished second and fellow sophomore teammate Ava Lane was third.
That trio again paved the way at state, with Lane finishing 11th on Saturday in 19:44.2. That was a big improvement from her freshman year, when she finished 34th at state in 20:51.5. Levy had been 23rd as a freshman last year in 20:31.7.
Stepping up on the back end for the Longhorns on Saturday were freshman Avery Smith (43rd, 21:36.8), senior Kaitlin Boothe (81st, 23:48.7) and sophomore Lacey Lindberg (86th, 24:14.1). Without Levy, Lund had vague hopes of a top-five finish, so he was certainly ecstatic with another third-place finish.
“I thought going in we had a look at top five, but to be eight points out of second, that really surprised me,” Lund said. “I was really impressed with the way the three girls that had never ran state handled being at a state meet. … The kids really stepped up and obviously it showed. And our top three, we couldn’t ask more from them.”
Among Maley’s biggest cheerleaders on Saturday was her sister, 2019 BHS graduate Megan Maley, who holds the school’s track record in the 800-meter run. Megan, who runs for NCAA Division III Scripps College in Claremont, California, has spent a lot of extra time at home training with her younger sister because of the coronavirus pandemic closing down in-person learning.
Add in Lane, who Katelyn Maley said is “one of the main people that is always there by my side and motivating me,” and Basalt’s newest state champion had plenty of support this offseason to help get her to the top. She entered the fall ready to make moves, and she did so in dominant fashion.
“It was super rewarding and just knowing that the team had worked so hard for that exact moment,” Katelyn Maley said of the feeling she had when crossing the finish line. “It’s just so amazing. The fact that we got third today and third last year, it was our fourth, fifth and sixth runners that really pulled through today. I’m just so proud of everyone.”
ASPEN FINISHES FOURTH FOR BEST FINISH SINCE 2011
The Aspen High School girls cross country team continued its year-by-year improvement, sending its four competing seniors out with a fourth-place team finish on Saturday in the 3A championship. The Skiers finished with 123 points, only two points behind third-place Basalt and only 10 back of runner-up Holy Family.
“They ran well all season long, and this was a good way to end the season,” AHS coach Chris Keleher said. “So a really good showing. I’ll take that. They were super nervous last night and they put it all on the line. Everybody dug deep and kudos to Basalt — man, did they run well.”
The fourth-place finish is the best for the Aspen girls since back-to-back fourth-place finishes in 2010 and 2011. After that 2011 season, AHS wouldn’t crack the top 10 until finishing seventh in 2018, when the current seniors were sophomores. The Skiers were fifth in 2019.
Aspen’s best program finish came in 2002, when it won its lone state championship.
“It’s definitely bittersweet. Four years and a lot of miles with these girls,” Keleher said of the final race with a strong senior class. “You can’t replace that. It’s good though. They are a fun group of kids and they run really well together and they support each other.”
AHS senior Kylie Kenny, who has been the team’s top state finisher all four years as a Skier, was 12th on Saturday in 19:57.1. Her younger sister, sophomore Michaela Kenny, was next across the finish line coming in 25th in 20:51.8. Aspen sophomore Elsie Weiss was 32nd in 21:10.2 and senior Kendall Clark was 34th in 21:14.2. Rounding out Aspen’s runners were seniors Edie Sherlock (53rd, 21:58.2) and Eva McDonough (69th, 22:55.3).
Keleher did like to point out how Aspen, which won the regional championship this year, is mostly comprised of athletes who don’t specialize in cross country. Kylie Kenny, for example, is a standout lacrosse player and will likely continue playing the sport in college.
“They are Nordic skiers and they are soccer players and they are lacrosse players. One girl is track. This is their second sport. It’s like a hobby for them. It’s awesome,” Keleher said. “This group especially was just so much fun to coach. They just respond and they dig deep.”
Of note, Gunnison senior Alex Baca won the 3A boys state championship in 16:07.8. Neither Aspen nor Basalt had any boys qualify for the smaller-than-usual state meet.
In the 4A girls race, Glenwood Springs finished eighth overall. Glenwood junior Ella Johnson led the way, finishing fourth in 18:24, while her sophomore teammate, Sophia Connerton-Nevin, was eighth in 19:07.2.
Broadcaster Jim Williams of KSPN and KNFO is leaving the valley after eight years of serving as the voice of Aspen, Basalt and Roaring Fork high school’s sports.