Aspen runners all headed to states |

Aspen runners all headed to states

Tim Mutrie
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Competing with a full compliment of runners for just the third time this season, Basalt’s Alpine Christian Academy boys cross country team won the Class 3A West Regional meet Saturday at the Crested Butte Country Club.

Aspen freshman Christy Severy won the girls 5K race and AHS sophomore Simi Hamilton won the boys race in an event where Aspen’s and Alpine Christian’s boys and girls teams all qualified for the Class 3A state championships Saturday at Kent Denver.

“Pretty awesome,” Alpine Christian coach Ron Lund said of his boys. “Their goal was to qualify [for the state meet], but they all ran well down to every last guy and squeaked it out.”

Aspen coach Chris Keleher concurred. “They didn’t even have three boys when the season started and to see them win the region, it’s awesome. It’s great to see what [Ron Lund] has done with the boys, and with the girls for that matter.”

In field of 50-plus in the boys race, Aspen’s Simi Hamilton dueled at the front with Jason Vickerman of Gunnison and Rob Thayer of Hotchkiss. Hamilton made his break on a hill at the two-mile mark and won in 17 minutes, 37 seconds, about seven seconds ahead of Vickerman, ten seconds in front of Thayer.

“It was a great race. It wasn’t over until he crossed the line,” Keleher said. “Simi continues to surprise me with what he’s able to do.”

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Alpine Christian’s John Tucker was fifth (18:30), followed by Aspen’s Sean Braisted in ninth (19:02), Aspen’s Scott Evans in 11th (19:21) and Alpine Christian’s Collin Stewart (19:28) and Keane Karnan (19:36) in 12th and 13th, respectively.

Alpine Christian’s Lloyd Tucker was 23rd (20:40), enough to put the Alpine Christian boys into first place in the team standings. “He had a really good race,” Lund said, “passing some guys that he needed to at the end that wound up being the difference.”

Aspen’s John Hatanaka was 37th (22:07) and Aspen’s Andrew Preusch was 40th (22:14).

Alpine Christian won the boys title with 51 points, followed by Meeker in second and Aspen in third (with 58 points each). Crested Butte and Olathe, in fourth and fifth, locked up the final team berths to the state championship in the field of ten teams.

In the girls race of 50-plus runners, Aspen’s Severy was first in 20:38, followed by Alpine Christian’s March Thompson (21:14) and Ashley Eaton (21:16) in second and third, respectively.

All five of Aspen’s girls finished in the top 16 giving the AHS a team victory with 27 points over Hotchkiss (33), Alpine Christian (52) and Gunnison (57).

Aspen’s Besha Deane was fifth (21:27), Aspen’s Erin Kiernan (21:47) and Jenny Hamilton (22:06) were 10th and 11th, respectively, and Dylan Braun was 16th (23:08).

For Alpine Christian, Deanna Spracher was 22nd (24:03), Whitney Lund was 25th (24:23) and Sam Hoffman was 27th (24:43).

Last year at the Class 3A state championships, also at Kent Denver, the Alpine Christian girls were third and the Aspen girls were fourth, behind Denver Christian in first and Estes Park in second.

This year, however, Lund is predicting a victor from the valley in the Aspen girls.

“They’ve got the horses to do it and if they can run well, I think they can do it,” he said.

“We’ve got five more days of practice,” Aspen’s Keleher said, “and then we’ll go run on Saturday and see where we end up. I’m looking forward to it ? the girls are running really strong and running well as a team, and the boys stunned me ? I never thought they’d be in the hunt for second place.”

As for Alpine Christian, Lund is hoping for top-10 performances from both teams. “We’re just going to have fun,” he said. “Our goal was just to get there, but obviously March and Ashley have a chance to do very well as individuals too.”

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