Aspen High cross country sending two full teams of boys and girls to state meet
Kylie Kenny and Kendall Clark really wanted to share the team chant, which is “Live, love, extra, small.”
What does that mean? Nobody really knows, including Aspen High School cross country coach Chris Keleher.
“It’s the goofiness that goes along with cross country runners,” Keleher said with a shrug. “It’s part of the team bonding experience.”
The team chant may be a mystery to all but the runners, but their talent on the course is quickly becoming well known on the Western Slope. After finishing third as a team in both the boys and girls races at their regional meet Oct. 19 at the Aspen Golf Club, the Skiers are able to send a full squad to the Class 3A state meet Saturday at the Norris Penrose Event Center in Colorado Springs.
“It’s really good to have everybody back,” Keleher said. “It’s a pretty goofy sport, so you spend a lot of time in your own head. This is what they will remember from cross country. Not necessarily running or the races.”
The Aspen girls are headed back to the state meet for the second year in a row. The Skiers finished 12th last fall, with Kenny’s 29th-place finish leading the way. Clark was a few spots back in 37th.
The majority of the Aspen girls, including Kenny and Clark, were only freshmen a year ago. Now sophomores, their expectations are a little higher.
“There is an element of more confidence but also an element of more pressure,” Kenny said. “We were just super excited to be there and the whole scenario was overwhelming, but I think this year we have some more expectations.”
Also competing for the AHS girls at state will be Macy Hopkinson, Edie Sherlock, Bronwyn Chesner, Maggie Woodrow and Greta Hansen.
“I’m super excited to get back there,” Clark said. “I was super nervous (at regionals) because there was a lot of pressure I was putting on myself to do well again and get back to state. But then it was pretty relieving to get to 15 again.”
The Aspen boys haven’t been to state as a team since 2013, when they finished 14th. The boys haven’t even had an individual qualifier since 2014, before this current group of seniors was in high school.
“It was absolutely amazing,” AHS senior Everett Olson said of getting to state. “We’ve been trying for the past four years and during the (regional) race I think I paced myself well to the point where I was able to have enough energy in the finish to go through.”
Olson finished fifth at regionals and senior teammate Nicholas Galambos ninth to get the AHS boys back to the season finale. Both credited getting to host regionals at the Aspen Golf Club as a reason for their success.
“It’s a feeling we’ve never had before,” Galambos said. “We had a lot of students come down from the high school and support us and also had a lot of community support, and that gave us a lot of motivation for the race.”
Also going to state for the AHS boys are Colt Whitley, Brenon Reed, Conner Chesner, Josh George and Riley Johnson.
“A lot of them came into the season pretty fit, which made a big difference,” Keleher said of the team’s success this fall. “It will be fun to watch them run against the best in the state.”
Basalt High School’s only qualifier is sophomore Sierra Bower, who won the girls race at the Aspen regional with a time of 20 minutes, 3.5 seconds. Bower raced in the state meet as a freshman, as well, finishing 35th.
“A lot of it is between the ears,” BHS coach Ron Lund said. “Same course, so I think the experience from last year will help her. She is running well. She is confident, so it should be exciting.”
The 3A boys race is scheduled to start at 9 a.m. Saturday in Colorado Springs, while the 3A girls race is scheduled for 10:20 a.m.
The dance team traveled this past weekend to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida, for the high school national championships, winning the intermediate varsity pom division on Sunday.