AHS harriers ready to run
The Aspen girls and boys cross-country teams are headed to the Harrison Invite in Colorado Springs today for one reason: to get acquainted with the 3A state course.Last year, with two teams brimming with youth, the goal for both was just to make it to state. Those goals have changed this year after both squads surprised head coach Chris Keleher last fall with second-place finishes at the Western Slope regional. “I think they’re confident that they’re going to qualify [this year],” said six-year head coach Keleher, who has been with the team for a total of 15 years. “Last year, it wasn’t a sure thing. We hadn’t seen two of the teams out of our region, and it was a question in everyone’s mind who was going to run at state. I was thinking [both teams] were going to be third or fourth, but they got keyed up for that regional meet. This year, our goal is to do well at state, not just qualify. A top-10 [finish] is not out of the question”Also not out of the question is an individual state title for senior Christy Severy, who won as a freshmen and finished third last year as a junior with a time of 19 minutes, 6 seconds.
Severy said she trained harder than she ever has this summer in preparation for her final cross-country season as a high schooler. She ran with the team two days during the week, then pushed herself on her own the other days.”To get in the top three at states is a huge goal for me, even the top two,” she said. “I’d like to do as well as I did last year, at least. I had the personal best my sophomore year on that same course. I’d like to get a personal best or just run in the mid-18s for one race at least. I think my mind is more in it this year.”While the girls team is still on the young side, with Severy being the only senior, the team isn’t lacking big-meet experience. Junior Laura Hatanaka recorded the second-best time at state for the Skiers last fall, finishing 72nd with a time of 21:22. Sophomore Abby Mickey, running at state in her first year on the team, finished 101st with a time of 22:18. Junior Cornelia Carpenter was 133rd with a time of 25:28.If the Skiers again finish among the best four teams at regionals, thus solidifying a team spot at state, that doesn’t mean the same quartet of qualifiers from last fall will make the trip to Colorado Springs. Only the best five runners get to go, meaning that on a team with designs on finishing in the top 10, inner competition will be fierce to see who gets those five spots.
The other members of this year’s varsity squad are junior Sophie Ben-Hamoo, sophomore Katie Bird, junior Taylor Buzbee, sophomore Susey Davis, junior Haylen Gregeory, sophomore Annalise Grueter, junior Claire Houghey, freshman Brittany Marrs, sophomore Natalie Obermeyer and freshman Lindsey Wilkinson.”I leave [the team goals] up to them,” Keleher said. “We’re going to have a big goal session on Friday and see if they can figure out where they want to be as a team. Certainly, with the talent they have, they could easily be top-10, but that’s tough to say with what the rest of the state is doing.”Sizing up the boys team for this fall, Keleher said he was equally surprised when the squad turned in a second-place finish at regionals last year.From there, the team went on to finish 18th overall at the state meet. All five state qualifiers from last year’s team return, including sophomore Noah Hoffman, whose state time of 16:47 last year was good for an eighth-place finish as an individual.
The other four Skiers to run were junior Barton Tofany, who finished 66th with a time of 18:18; junior Jacob O’Connor, who finished 85th with a time of 18:34; senior Joseph Oppenheimer in 138th with a time of 19.22 and junior Nate Marrs in 154th with a time of 20:09.Oppenheimer, like Severy, is the only senior on his team. Keleher said he will be sad when the season comes to a close and he has to say good-bye to his talented senior tandem, but he also admitted that with the depth on his two teams, he is not just excited about this fall, but next fall.The other runners who have made the boys varsity roster this fall are sophomore Morgan Boyles, sophomore Keeffe Carvelli, junior Trevan Flynn, junior Bryan Harper, sophomore Taylor Preusch, junior Dylan Rayburn and junior Scott Clancy.”We’ve got another year to build with these kids,” Keleher said. “The best thing about coaching is the kids. They are just such amazing people. They work so hard. I think their goal is to do as well as they can and have as much fun as they can. That’s why we’re going down to [Colorado Springs] just to see [the state course]. We’re not focusing on this meet at all. We’re taking them down to train through.”Nate Peterson can be reached at email@example.com
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The third weekend of play begins Thursday and runs through Sunday with the Bantam B, Squirt A and Squirt B divisions. Because of safety protocols, spectators aren’t allowed.