Aspen, Alpine set for regional race in Aspen
Aspen Times Staff Writer
The Class 3A West Regional Cross Country Championship comes to Aspen Saturday, and both Aspen High and Alpine Christian Academy will be running for a trip to states.
Only the top-four-scoring teams out of a field of 13 in the boys and girls races, as well as the top 15 individual boys and girls finishers, will qualify for the 3A state championships, slated for Oct. 25 in Colorado Springs.
Staged on a 5K course at the Aspen Golf Club, the boys race starts at 10:15 a.m., followed by the girls race at 11 a.m.
“I think our girls have a very good chance of qualifying for state,” said Alpine Christian coach Ron Lund. “Based on what I’ve seen, I’m pretty confident we’ll be in the top four.”
Likewise, AHS head coach Chris Keleher said that while it’ll be close, he’s confident in both his boys and girls teams.
“The girls race will be very, very tight; it will be a very good race,” Keleher said. “I think the guys will qualify as well. I think we’ll send both teams.”
Last weekend, Alpine placed third in the Palisade Invitational, which attracted 11 teams from around the state, including some larger Class 4A and 5A teams.
“I thought we did well. There were some pretty big schools down there,” Lund said.
Steamboat (4A) finished first, with Fruita (5A) coming in second.
Individually, Alpine freshman Amy Lund (one of Ron’s two daughters on the team) and senior Ashley Eaton carried the ACA squad, finishing 13th and 14th overall, respectively. But five ACA girls finished in the top 35, solidifying the team’s high finish.
The Alpine boys finished 10th overall, led by Collin Stewart, a sophomore, who finished 32nd.
Aspen High competed in the Montrose cross country relay meet last weekend, which is not a typical race.
“It was sort of a weird race,” Keleher said. “It was a coed relay format.”
The course was a mile long. Each runner completed three laps, alternating with his or her coed partner for a total of six laps. Keleher said several runners were at nordic camps or taking SATs and didn’t compete. Senior Scott Evans and sophomore Christy Severy were the top finishers for Aspen, coming in fifth place.
Lund said Saturday’s greatest competition will come from Aspen, Hotchkiss and Gunnison.
The Aspen girls team has been running strong all season, led by Severy and senior Erin Kiernan.
“Laura Hatanaka has been running real well too,” Keleher said. “Actually, all girls are running well.” Hatanaka is a freshman.
Leading the boys are Simi Hamilton, a junior, and Evans.
“Evans is really, really running well right now,” Keleher said. “He has a chance to be top 10. He’s a senior, so it would be good for him to go out with a bang.”
If Aspen or Alpine’s boys or girls teams do not record a top four-finish, it’s highly likely that at least a few runners from AHS and Alpine will qualify individually.
In last year’s regional championship, Megan Lund and Eaton placed first and second, respectively. Megan, another of Ron’s daughters, now runs for the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs.
“[The team’s] excited about running that course again,” Lund said. “They feel being up in Aspen will give them an edge over some of the other schools that aren’t at altitude.
“I’m excited, because I think the kids are running well, and they have a chance to qualify as a team. They have a chance of winning.”
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Katelyn Maley could have led the charge from start to finish, but sometimes waiting to make your move is a better strategy. The Basalt High School junior did just that on Saturday when she won the Class 3A girls 800-meter race at the state meet at Jefferson County Stadium in Lakewood.