Kylie Kenny leads Aspen High girls cross country to 12th-place finish at state
Considering the youth, nonexistent experience and lack of expectations, the Aspen High School girls cross country team will gladly accept its 12th-place finish at the Class 3A state meet on Saturday in Colorado Springs.
“That was awesome,” AHS coach Chris Keleher said of the race held at the Norris-Penrose Event Center. “They were already talking about next year and hoping to improve on that. The fact we got 12th as a team is just astounding to me. What a great way to finish the season.”
The Skiers, which failed to qualify a single runner for the state meet in 2016, sent a team of seven girls to Saturday’s finale after taking fourth at their regional meet in Delta a week ago. Of the seven, five were freshmen, one a sophomore and one a first-year senior.
As she did at regionals, freshman Kylie Kenny led Aspen by finishing 29th overall with a time of 20 minutes, 18.4 seconds. Keleher was hoping for a top-30 finish out of someone on Saturday, and Kenny delivered.
Freshman Kendall Clark was not far behind her teammate, finishing in 20:26 to take 37th. Freshman Edie Sherlock (21:13.8) and senior Jane Marolt (21:34.1) took 73rd and 87th, respectively, in the 152-athlete field.
“There was a big pack right between Kendall and Kylie there. … It just really moved in the last mile and it was super fun to watch,” Keleher said. “Edie ran great, Jane ran great. Everybody — what a great day. It was super fun, especially for a team with basically no experience whatsoever.”
Freshman Macy Hopkinson (104th, 22:05.4), freshman Maggie Woodrow (128th, 23:10.3) and sophomore Greta Hansen (149th, 25:26.7) also competed for the Skiers.
While this year’s state competition came with little pressure, Keleher hopes to see each of the six underclassmen return next season with loftier goals in mind.
“Everybody was really excited for the way the season ended up,” he said. “The kids are already looking forward to coming back next year and I hope we improve on the standings and see if we can get inside the top 10.”
Longhorn duo content with state results
Basalt High School freshman Sierra Bower finished 35th in the 3A girls race on Saturday with a time of 20:23.2, while senior teammate Carly Robinson was 54th in 20:51.4.
“They ran pretty well. They were both really happy with their race,” Basalt coach Ron Lund said. “It definitely served Sierra to get there knowing she is probably going to get back. She had never been in a race like that before with that many kids, that kind of atmosphere. It’s just a whole different deal. She started out good. I just think overall it was a good race for her.”
Robinson also competed at state as a sophomore, taking 37th in 21:23.8 on the same course. While her time as a senior was faster, her positioning was 17 spots lower due to stronger competition.
“That just tells you how much tougher our region has gotten when they did the reclassification two years ago, when a bunch of what were small 4A schools dropped down into 3A,” Lund said. “Carly said she had fun, and that’s good to hear. You want to go out on a good note.”
Among the teams to benefit from the reclassification was Steamboat Springs. The Sailors, which finished 1-2-3 at the same regional meet in Delta as Aspen and Basalt, took second place as a team in 3A with two runners in the top nine, led by sophomore Maggi Congdon’s fourth-place finish.
At the top was Peak to Peak, which took the first three individual spots to repeat as state champs. Junior Quinn McConnell won the girls 3A state championship with a time of 18:31.6. McConnell also won 3A state as a freshman.
Peak to Peak finished with 82 points and Steamboat Springs 101 points. Taking third was Classical Academy (120 points), fourth Holy Family (151) and fifth Alamosa (179).
“That’s what we are up against and I thought they had a good showing,” Lund said. “Hopefully next year we can get back and Sierra will have a team running with her.”
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Buttermilk Ski Area already is scheduled to host the world’s best at ESPN’s X Games this coming week, while it was recently announced Aspen Highlands will host alpine skiing’s NorAm finals later this spring.