Basalt’s Hailey Swirbul second in state cross country meet | AspenTimes.com

Basalt’s Hailey Swirbul second in state cross country meet

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times

Hailey Swirbul knows her way to the podium at cross country meets — skiing and running.

Swirbul, the Basalt High School junior and national cross country skiing champion, stepped up onto the podium again Saturday at the State Cross Country (running) Championships in Colorado Springs.

Swirbul ran to a second-place finish in the Class 3A girls race, closing down the gap created by a blazing fast start from Lily Tomasula-Martin of Estes Park, who held on for the win.

"She took off fast at the start," Swirbul said in a telephone interview, recapping Tomasula-Martin's quick start on the hilly and challenging state course at the Penrose Events Center, formerly the Penrose Equestrian Center.

"Julia (Jaschke), the girl from Kent Denver … we didn't reel her in until the last mile," Swirbul said. "Then she took off again."

Tomasula-Martin, a sophomore, won the 5-kilometer state final in 20 minutes, 31 seconds.

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Basalt's Swirbul was second in 20:35.

Jaschke, the Kent Denver junior who had run with Swirbul at the Chris Severy Invitational in Aspen earlier this season, finished third in 20:42.

"It was really fun having her as competition again," Swirbul said of her duel with Jaschke.

She said she had a different plan heading into the state championships and its tricky course this year.

"I spoke with my coaches. We talked about the course," Swirbul said. "I was planning on conserving the first mile to make sure I saved for the last mile."

She said she learned a valuable lesson last year on the same course.

"If you go out too fast, you learn the hard way," she said. "So I had a different strategy … and I executed the plan."

Swirbul's Basalt teammate Zach Walsh, a senior, raced to an eighth-place finish in the 3A boys race at state.

He and Swirbul ran in front of a large and loud crowd, particularly as they made the final turn to the finish sprint in the main arena at Penrose.

"It's such a friendly atmosphere; everyone's cheering," Swirbul said. "All the fans … as you go into the stadium."

Swirbul handles a double-duty training schedule in the fall with a preparation program for the U.S. Ski Team as well as the Basalt prep cross country team.

"I want to say thank you to my teammates and coaches … everyone who supports me," Swirbul said.

Ron Lund is the longtime head coach of Basalt cross country.

Walsh put another Longhorn runner on the state podium with his strong finish in 17:33.

Ben Butler of Skyview Academy in Highlands Ranch won the boys 3A race in 16:18. He's a junior.

Taylor Stack, a junior from Salida, finished second in 16:40.

Dominic Carrese, a senior from Fountain Valley, finished third (17:13).

Basalt teammate Lyle Luckett finished 71st at state. Patrick Niemer, Ashton Albright and Robbie Thjompson also raced for the Longhorns.

Aspen's Taggart Solomon, an individual qualifer for the Skiers, finished 35th at Saturday's state championships.

Alamosa won the 3A boys team title with 60 points. Frontier Academy of Greeley finished second with 11.

Lamar (125) was third with Gunnison (162) fourth.

On the girls side, Aspen finished 10th as a team Saturday.

"The girls ran really well," Aspen head coach Chris Keleher said. "They started conservatively, and then they totally moved up."

Skiers passed runners through the second and third miles.

"They poured it on," Keleher said. "This bodes well for next year."

The Skiers have only two seniors on the state-qualifying cross country roster.

Nina Beidleman led the Skiers in 46th place at the state championships. Sophie Dasaro was 50th. Tierney Sutton finished 64th.

McKenna Woodrow was at No. 73.

Dara Schenck, Conner Mackenzie and Megan Hanson finished 82-83-84 for the Skiers.

dstrode@aspentimes.com