Academy runners not so tiny
Aspen Times Staff Writer
Alpine Christian Academy, a school consisting of just two small buildings off of Highway 82 near El Jebel, has a student population so small they can only outfit one sport.
And, in the two years Alpine Christian has offered that sport, the school has managed to scare its larger competition. After all, just last fall their girls cross country team ran away with third place at the Class 4A state championships in Denver.
Alpine Christian is hoping for another lucky streak as the team begins its third year of racing, starting Saturday with a meet in Delta.
“It’s flat and it’s fast ? it’s a good first meet,” said coach Ron Lund, who’s also track coach at Basalt High.
Alpine Christian and Basalt High School often share resources ? Basalt kids can run with Alpine Christian, while Alpine Christian kids are welcome to join any sport Basalt offers. This year Alpine Christian cross country boasts 13 kids ? five of their own, along with eight from BHS.
Among those 13 is Ashley Eaton, the BHS junior who took third overall in last year’s state meet.
“She’s going to run and play club soccer, so she might not be there Saturday [in Delta], but we’ll take her when we can get her,” Lund said.
Alpine Christian senior March Thompson, who took 17th at state in 2001, will also return. As an elder member of the team, Thompson has big shoes to fill ? those of former top team finishers like Lund’s daughter Megan, Lauren Vagneur and Stephanie Kemp.
“We graduated three seniors off that top five,” Lund said of last year’s roster. “But we have some new kids coming in ? in addition to some freshmen, we have some kids, sophomores and juniors, who have never raced.”
Lund has high hopes for the season ? aside from rebuilding a strong girls team, he hopes to send the Alpine Christian boys to their first state meet.
Last year, two Academy racers just missed qualifying for the state championship. Lund said seniors like John Tucker could make the cut this year.
Though the final Alpine Christian running schedule hasn’t been finalized, the team expects to travel to Palisade on Sept. 6 for their second meet of the year.
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Sophomore Ava Lane is a flourishing star in her own right, but spends a lot of her time trying to chase down senior Sierra Bower and sophomore Katelyn Maley, both in practice and in races. This, however, is only making her stronger down the line and it’s not a task she will shy away from.