Basalt cross country strong at state | AspenTimes.com
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Basalt cross country strong at state

Jon MaletzThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado

FORT COLLINS, Colo. The Basalt cross country teams biggest question mark became and exclamation point in Saturdays state championship.After losing his top two runners (seniors Brennan Roper and Casey Weaver) from last years boys team that finished fifth at state, head coach Ron Lund wasnt sure what to expect from largely unproven squad this fall. He got his answer Saturday at Fossil Ridge High School in Fort Collins.The Longhorns, who last week nabbed the fourth and final team berth at the regional meet in Delta, made quite an impression on high school runnings biggest stage. Sophomore Connor Roper led the way with a 22nd-place finish as the boys wound up eighth, cracking the top 10 for a second straight year.Somebody asked me what the boys would do, and I thought probably they were about 13th [best], Lund said. I thought theyd all have to run pretty good to get top 10. They ran well and snuck in there. To lose the top two off the regional championship team and come back and get eighth is impressive.One year after finishing sixth in the state girls race, junior Chiara Del Piccolo crossed the line in 19 minutes, 8 seconds good for eighth place in an ultra-competitive field. Teammate Annette Stenstadvold, who out-kicked Del Piccolo at the line last October in Colorado Springs to finish fifth, took 24th Saturday. She completed the course in 20:22. Classical Academy junior Kaitlin Hanenburg outlasted Middle Park sophomore Samantha Berggren down the stretch for a second-consecutive year to win the individual title in 17:47.57. Three of Hanenburgs teammates finished in the top 7 as the Titans rolled to the team title with 16 points. Salida (111) and Peak to Peak (122) rounded out the top three.Del Piccolo, who finished second to Berggren in head-to-head matchups in El Jebel and Aspen earlier this season, settled into fifth place at the midway point. Down the final stretch, a few girls passed her including Classicals Kassie Mazzoco, who overtook Del Piccolo mere feet from the line to finish five hundredths ahead.Chiara ran what I felt was a pretty smart race, Lund said. I thought going in that top 10 was doable, but the top five was really tough just because of the times Ive seen out there. 3A was probably the deepest Ive seen in a long time.Numbers back that assertion. Hanenburg and Berggren turned in two of the three fastest times all day, in any division. Air Academy senior Allie McLaughlin, the lone other girls runner to break 18 minutes, crossed the line in 17:04.53 to run away with the 5A titleDel Piccolos time wouldve been good for eighth in 4A and 13th in 5A. She and Brennan Roper (2006 and 2007) are the only runners Lund has coached to finish in the top 10 in consecutive state championships.Its good to see that weve got some kids that are keeping the tradition of this school having somebody up there year in and year out, Lund said. I feel pretty fortunate to have the runners that we do.On the boys side, Buena Vistas Joseph Demoor (15:28.50) bested the field by nearly 16 seconds en route to the individual title. Lyons Andrew Roberts (15:44.35) and Brushs Amos Bowen (15:59.90) finished second and third. The Classical Academy (53) bested Lyons (69) and Colorado Academy (105) in the race for the team title.Connor Roper finished in 17:15.45 for the Longhorns. Senior Tyler Wilson (17:44.40) was 40th, senior Andy Delany (18:05.80) 55th and freshman Giulio Del Piccolo (18:37.75) 75th.I think theyre happy. I sure am happy for them, Lund said. Early in the season, my boys team didnt look that impressive. As the season went on, the times got a little better and they got some confidence. They ran good collectively.This is the icing on the cake, getting the privilege to run at a state meet. To have your best show up on that day makes it all worthwhile.jmaletz@aspentimes.com


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