Severy takes state title |

Severy takes state title

Tim Mutrie
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Christy Severy and the Aspen High girls cross country team cemented a place in history Saturday at the Class 3A state championships at Kent Denver.

Severy, the 5-foot-1, 95-pound freshman sensation, won the girls 5K race by a whopping 16-second margin, and the other AHS girls ? seniors Jenny Hamilton and Besha Deane and juniors Erin Kiernan and Dylan Braun ? backed her up to deliver Aspen’s first-ever state title in girls cross country.

“It’s a great feeling,” Severy, 14, said Sunday of the team title. “We all ran really well.”

As for her own achievement, which follows in the footsteps of older brothers Chris (who died in a bicycle accident in 1998) and Jon, both former state champion cross country runners for AHS, she was less emphatic.

“I was just hoping to be in the top 10. I just ran how I would always run and ended up in front,” she said. “That’s all. It’s a good feeling; I can’t really explain it.”

Severy ran with the lead pack until about a mile and a half into the race, when she attacked on the final hill.

“I told her, ‘Going up that hill get as big a lead as you can because after that it’s flat; it becomes a road race,'” said Aspen coach Chris Keleher. “But she actually opened up a bigger lead on the flat section and surprised a lot of people in doing so. It was pretty awesome to watch.”

Severy finished in 19 minutes, 49 seconds, about 30 meters ahead of runner-up Emilie Schur of Pagosa Springs (20:05.8). Meanwhile, Hamilton was running a personal best on the Kent Denver course en route to eighth place (20:17) and an all-state distinction (awarded to the top 10 finishers). Deane followed in 17th and then came Kiernan in 21st to round out Aspen’s four scoring runners, while Braun followed in 43rd.

The Aspen girls learned “unofficially” that they’d won once all five finished, so they waited anxiously until the awards ceremony to hear “officially.”

“It was awkward for a while,” Keleher admitted. “Nobody wanted to talk about it and celebrate because we wanted it to be official. So business as usual: we went on our cool-down run, watched some of the other races, and only when we finally went to the awards did we start screaming and yelling.”

Aspen finished with 47 points (the sum of the four scoring runners’ finishes), well ahead of runner-up Hotchkiss (82) and Classical Academy (111).

“We knew going in that no other Aspen girls had done this. And we felt like this was our turn,” said Hamilton, 17, who also has three state titles with the AHS girls ski team.

“What a way to end it. It was awesome.”

The latest state championship is Aspen High’s seventh in school history. The 1986 boys cross country team won the first one, the girls ski team has won the last three, and the boys ski team has won two of the last three.

“You don’t run for time in cross country,” said Keleher, “you run to get in front of as many people as you can. That’s what Christy did, and, in fact, that’s what all the girls did.”

Basalt’s Alpine Christian Academy finished eighth out of 24 teams in the girls field behind ninth- and 11th-place performances by Ashley Eaton and March Thompson, respectively. The Aspen High boys finished 22nd of 29 teams, and the Alpine Christian boys, competing in their first-ever state championships, followed in 23rd.

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