Severy, Hamilton win; Alpine girls second |

Severy, Hamilton win; Alpine girls second

Daniel Bayer photo.Aspen High sophomore Christy Severy cracks a smile as she closes in on the finish line - and another victory - at the 3A West Regional Cross Country Championship on Saturday at the Aspen Golf Club.
Daniel Bayer © 2003 | Daniel Bayer © 2003

Aspen High’s Christy Severy and Simi Hamilton won their second consecutive 3A West Regional Cross Country Championship titles on Saturday at the Aspen Golf Club, and Basalt’s Alpine Christian Academy girls team tied for first place, only to become the runner-up by tie-breaker criteria.

Aspen’s boys and girls teams finished second and fourth, respectively, qualifying both squads for Saturday’s 3A state championship meet in Colorado Springs. The Alpine girls will also be going to the state meet, along with two Alpine boys runners who qualified as individuals.

Sophomore Severy, the defending 3A state champion and one of two members of Aspen’s defending state championship girls team, won Saturday’s 5K in dominating fashion with a time of 20 minutes, 25 seconds. Ashley Quiggle of Crested Butte followed in second, 48 seconds back, and Alpine senior Ashley Eaton grabbed the final podium spot in 21:39.

In the boys 5K, Hamilton, a junior, won by a whopping 1:14 seconds in 17:19. Hotchkiss’ Fred Busch was second (18:33), Meeker’s Tom Herter third (18:34) and Alpine Christian’s Collin Stewart fourth (18:46).

“I expected Simi to be as strong as he was, but that he won by over a minute, that surprised me,” said Aspen coach Chris Keleher. “And with Christy, I expected Ashley Quiggle to run closer to her for longer than she did. But Christy pulled away from her at a mile and a third – just put the hammer down and rolled. And that, too, was a hugely pleasant surprise.”

Following Eaton’s lead, the Alpine girls packed three runners overall in the top 15, with freshman Amy Lund in eighth (22:36) and Kate Wilson in 11th (22:51). But the Alpine girls didn’t start the race that way, according to coach Ron Lund.

“Gunnison’s whole team was ahead of my second girl at the first mile mark,” Lund said. “But our kids just kept moving up and moving up. And to come away with second place, even being that close, is still pretty impressive considering one of four schools could’ve walked away with it.”

In the girls team standings, Gunnison and Alpine tied with 40 points each, followed by Hotchkiss (51) and Aspen (53). (Team scores are calculated by adding together the places of each team’s top four runners.) And in the field of six girls teams, only the top four qualified for the state meet.

Since Gunnison and Alpine tied, the tie-breaking criteria fell to each team’s fifth and final runner. Gunnison’s fifth runner had placed 19th, and Alpine’s was 23rd, Lund explained. “We knew it was going to be close,” he said.

“Ashley [Eaton] ran the best she’s run all year,” the Alpine coach continued. “Obviously, Christy [Severy] was the clear favorite coming in, with Ashley Quiggle expected to push her. But in the matter of a half-mile, Ashley [Eaton] put a 100-yard lead over the trailing pack and held onto it. She looked really smooth.”

Eaton will be making her fourth and final appearance at the state championships; she was 12th as a freshman, third as a sophomore and ninth last year.

Likewise, the four-year-old Alpine girls cross country team has yet to miss a state championship. Last year the team was eighth, behind the victorious Aspen Skier girls; in 2001 they were third; and in 2000 the team was second – by just one point.

“I think this year’s team could probably score better than last year’s,” Lund said. “Our times are usually closer together.”

Aspen senior Scott Evans posted what coach Keleher called a “huge personal best” by finishing fifth (19:01) in the boys race, and senior Merritt Gates and freshman Laura Hatanaka kept the AHS girls team in qualifying contention with 17th and 20th place finishes, respectively, according to Keleher.

“Looking at the last couple races, I was picking Scott to be top 10,” Keleher said. “But I had no idea he’d be top five. It’s been an incredible season for him and not that surprising considering how hard he’s worked for four years, really.

“Merritt ran just a brilliant race and Laura, as a freshman, came on super strong in the last mile and a half and passed about six or seven girls,” Keleher said.

Aspen senior Erin Kiernan, the other member of last year’s state championship team, was 15th (23:07) to round out Aspen’s four scoring runners.

“Merritt and Laura really were the difference in the team finishing fourth,” Keleher said. “We easily could’ve been fifth or sixth had those girls not run stunning races, and Erin Kiernan, too, who’s been superbly consistent for us all year long.”

In the 10-team boys field, Crested Butte won with 47 points, followed by Aspen (54), Olathe (56), Gunnison (68) and Hotchkiss (74). All five teams also qualified for the state championship.

The 3A state championship will be held Saturday morning near Harrison High School in Colorado Springs. The course is fast and the girls race, among others, is shaping up to be a classic shootout.

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