Aspen High cross country sweeps team titles at home invite on Saturday
Last year, it was the Aspen High School boys cross country team that ended a long drought by winning its home invitational. This season, the AHS girls decided to join the boys on the summit.
“It was really cool to put Aspen back on top of the podium for both boys, again, and for the girls,” AHS coach Chris Keleher said. “A small meet, but the kids ran super, super well. It’s good to see some of them have some really strong performances coming on late in the season.”
The Skiers swept both varsity races of Saturday’s annual Chris Severy Invitational, the only home race of the season for Aspen High School. According to Keleher, the AHS girls hadn’t won the race since the early 2000s, most likely, and he didn’t believe the Skiers had ever swept both boys and girls races in the same year.
Despite the absence of senior Jane Marolt, one of Aspen’s top runners who missed Saturday’s race due to college testing, the AHS girls put four runners into the top 15, and all of them were freshmen. Kylie Kenny led the charge by finishing fourth overall with a time of 23 minutes, 53.8 seconds, with Kendall Clark taking sixth in 24:15.8.
Edie Sherlock was 10th in 25:24.8 and Macy Hopkinson 14th in 26:02.1. Senior Chelsea Moore finished 21st in 27:35.1 to round out the scoring athletes for Aspen. Young as they may be, the AHS freshmen have been strong all season for the Skiers.
“We just push each other,” Kenny said.
Rifle’s Sarah Wagler won the girls’ race in 22:11.1. In second was Soroco’s Chloe Veilleux in 23:14 and third Grand Junction’s Mandy Moran in 23:37.3.
The Aspen girls finished with 55 points to take the team title, while Basalt High School was second with 60 points. Kent Denver was third (82 points), Rifle fourth (88) and Grand Junction fifth (106).
While the Aspen boys did enter Saturday’s race as the defending champions, Keleher made sure not to put any pressure on the runners entering the meet.
“They sort of did that on their own,” Keleher said. “They don’t need as much direction. Everybody just really pushed forward when they needed to and passed everybody they had to.”
The Aspen boys finished with 61 points to lead all teams. In second was Grand Junction (77), followed by third-place Kent Denver (92), fourth-place Rifle (114) and fifth-place Meeker (161).
AHS junior Everett Olson led the Skiers by finishing fourth overall in 20:19.7. Senior teammate Will Chesner joined him in the top 10, taking sixth in 20:49.8. Also scoring for Aspen were Nicholas Galambos (14th, 21:46.6), Conner Chesner (17th, 22:37.1) and Riley Johnson (20th, 22:54).
Telluride junior Jaden Evans won the boys’ race in 19:00.8. In second was Ouray’s Cooper Rondinelli (19:51.9) and third Grand Junction’s Grayson Gehl (20:07).
Aspen has one more meet on its schedule — next weekend’s Montrose Relays — before heading to the regional meet in Delta on Oct. 20.
“I’m a little nervous,” Kenny said of regionals, although her teammate also echoed the team’s high expectations.
“I think we should try and go top 15, because then we can go to state as individuals,” Clark said.
Basalt solid despite absences
Longhorn coach Ron Lund believes his team has a chance to be competitive at regionals, if only he could have all his athletes in the same place at the same time.
“They’ve been strong and we’ve yet to run a meet where everyone’s been healthy,” he said. “Every week they just trade off who can’t run. So I’m praying by a week from Friday everybody is over what they’ve got and we can at least go to the line with a full team.”
From illness to college testing, BHS has rarely if ever been at full strength this season. Still, even without Megan Maley and Sopia Moon, two of the team’s top female runners, the Basalt girls managed to finish second behind Aspen.
Senior Carly Robinson led BHS by taking fifth overall in 23:54.3. Also finishing top 10 for Basalt were freshman Sierra Bower (seventh, 24:35.3) and sophomore Lily Gillis (25:04.3). Senior Jenna Curnow snuck in a top-20 time, taking 16th in 26:28.8. Senior Becca White was 23rd in 28:21.3.
“That was good to see. It’s what we are going to need going forward,” Lund said of the numerous girls in the top 10. “If they are healthy, I like our chances. But we got to get them healthy.”
While not as deep, the BHS boys also had some good showings. Junior William Luckett finished just outside the top 10, taking 11th in 21:43.6. Junior Leighton Albright was 26th in 26:06.9.
“I took the opportunity to put some kids in JV, so they’d be more in the middle of the race, and it paid off. They ran much, much better being around other kids,” Lund said of the boys. “They are coming around. It’s looking good. But we are real, real happy with today.”
On top of the Montrose Relays, the BHS cross country team plans to compete in next week’s invite at Rifle before heading to regionals in Delta.
Prior to Saturday’s high school races, Josh Meyer won the annual Chuck Severy Memorial 5K with a time of 20:05. Christy Severy was the top woman, finishing in 24:14.
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Strange is a word that will likely define the winter high school sports season. But, after numerous delays and endless doubts, that season is finally here. It will include fewer games, more masks and a lot of empty seats, but adapting to that strangeness is better than the alternative.