‘Horns harriers rewrite record books
COLORADO SPRINGS A small Western Slope school made quite a statement on high school cross-country’s biggest stage.Basalt’s Annette Stenstadvold and Chiara Del Piccolo finished fifth and sixth, respectively, and Brennan Roper’s eight-place finish propelled the Longhorns boys to fifth place Saturday at the 3A state cross-country championship at Colorado Springs’ El Pomar Youth Sports complex.The three runners helped rewrite Basalt’s record books in the process. Stenstadvold and Del Piccolo became the school’s first teammates to finish in the top 10 at state. Those results, coupled with Roper’s, marked the first time three Longhorns finished in the top 10 at state.It was nearly four. Senior Casey Weaver, last week’s regional champion, tripped and fell two minutes into the race. He finished 15th.”That misshap hurt us, but today was fun to watch,” Basalt coach Ron Lund said. “They all ran really smart races.” Stenstadvold finished in 20 minutes, 3.1 seconds – just two tenths of a second ahead of Del Piccolo. The freshman, who outlasted Del Piccolo for the regional title at El Jebel’s Crown Mountain Park course, nearly made an even bigger splash in her first state meet; the third-place finisher posted a time of 20 minutes and fourth place was 20:02. Five of the first six finishers were freshmen or sophomores. Classical Academy sophomore Kaitlin Hanenburg ran away with the girls title, finishing nearly a minute ahead of the field in 18:42. Classical Academy runners finished first, third and seventh, helping the team clinch its fifth consecutive title. Peak to Peak and Roosevelt finished second and third, respectively, and Aspen took ninth. The Skiers girls – Natalie Obermeyer, Brittany Marrs, Brianna Morse, Lindsey Wilkinson – finished one spot ahead of Gunnison, which finished second at regionals.”Not bad for a team that didn’t officially qualify for state,” Aspen coach Chris Keleher said. Roper, like Stenstadvold, was locked in a tight race all the way to the finish line. The senior started near the back of the field, then slowly worked his way to 20th at the 1-mile mark. Less than a mile later, he had vaulted into seventh. He wound up eighth, one spot higher than in 2006, after posting a time of 17:12. The sixth- and seventh-place finishers were less than a half second ahead of him.”Once again I was outkicked at the finish,” said Roper, who was clipped a few yards from the tape at regionals. “Three guys were right there. I felt like the race could’ve gone better. I didn’t feel quite as sick as I usually do, or at least as bad as I did after state last year. “I think I could’ve gone out faster. That way I would’ve been closer to the lead pack. I could see them at all times, but I had too far to go to catch up.”Lund predicted last week that his boys team could finish in the top five. The runners proved him right. Freshman Connor Roper (18:42) and junior Tyler Wilson (18:57) were 68th and 86th, respectively for a Basalt team that was 16th last year. Rocky Ford won the boys title.The Aspen girls had just three runners compete in 2006 – they needed four to qualify for a team title. Four strong performances Saturday helped the Skiers lock up a top 10 finish. Obermeyer was 44th, Morse 59th, Marrs 61st and Wilkinson 84th. “They did and they didn’t [surprise me],” Keleher said. “A lot of times when a team that finishes third or fourth at regionals, there’s still more in the tank. I think the gap between the Gunnison girls is larger than ours. That plays into our favor in larger races. The girls ran awesome last week, and even better this week.”Aspen’s lone boys competitor, Scott Lacy, finished 26th. Lacy fell at the start of last year’s race and wound up 64th. “For a junior, he’s mixing it up with the big boys,” Keleher said. “We didn’t know what to expect because he had no teammates around him, but he ran a smart race.”The Western Slope did great. It’s nice to come from a small, remote school and run well.”Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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