- Class 5A: Cherry Creek (Boys), SW #1 Fort Collins (Girls)
- Class 4A: Falcon (Boys), SW #3 Thompson Valley (Girls)
- Class 3A: The Classical Academy (Boys), SW #2 The Classical Academy (Girls)
- Class 2A: Rocky Ford (Boys), Nederland (Girls)
Story- Appel defends his title, McLaughlin, Manilafasha etch their names in CO History
- Allie McLaughlin dominates the 5A field with a 17:04, defeating runner-up Clare Gallagher of Cherry Creek by over a minute. SW #1 Ft Collins cruises to a State Title that has eluded them for the past five years. SW #9 Dakota Ridge star Kaitie Vanatta is once again absent from the race, but was spotted on the sidelines with a fairly significant limp. Evan Appel runs away in 5A with a 15:20, with Bobby Nicolls a distant 4th. Walter Schafer's second place finish leads Cherry Creek to its first State Championship since 1992.
- Joe Manilafasha of Denver North flys out to a fast start and cruises for a realtively easy 4A individual title, defeating Falcon's duo of Wes Rickman and Kevin Johnson by over 20 seconds. Rickman and Johnson do lead Falcon to the team title, overpowering defending 5A State Champs Wheat Ridge, 130-182. SW #3 Thompson Valley controls the girls race, placing all scoring runners in the top 50. The Eagles top girl, Laura Tremblay, just missed out on a sweep, bowing out to eventual champion Alicia Nelson with 800 meters to go.
- In 3A, The Classical Academy left Fossil Ridge with two State Championship plaques, sweeping both the boys and girls races. Kaitlin Hanenburg posted the second fastest time of the day with a 17:47, edging out Samantha Berggren of MIddle Park by 3 seconds. On the boys side, defending individual champ Andrew Roberts is dusted by Joseph DeMoor of Buena Vista. DeMoor flew to a 15:28, slower only to Manilafasha and Appel.
by Cheyne Heiny
In Colorado’s deep history in cross country, the state has produced some outstanding runners. Runners like the Kaltenbach sisters, Megan and Kaitlyn, Keara Sammons, Whitney Anderson, and Melody Fairchild.
And then there’s Allie McLaughlin.
McLaughlin flew to a time of 17:04, over a minute ahead of runner-up Clare Gallagher.
“This year, I was very focused on staying healthy and strong,” said McLaughlin, who battled out an eighth place performance a year ago despite running on a stress fracture. “I had worked so hard over the summer, and (to win state) just feels great,” said McLaughlin.
The battle for second place in 5A girls was much closer, with Clare Gallagher, Kelsey Lakowske and Miranda Benzel matching eachother stride for stride until the last 800 meters, where Gallagher pulled away for the second place victory.
Benzel, the top finisher for SW #1 Ft Collins all season, led the Lambkins to the State Championship that has eluded them for the last five years.
“As a team, we really wanted to win,” said Benzel, who finished fourth with an 18:23. “The past few years, we have fallen short, so going into the race, we knew we had to go out hard and get into position and hold on.”
After the disappointments Ft Collins has suffered as a team the last few years – in 2005, Lambkins star Katie Follett collapses before the finish and doesn’t cross the line until she places 159th. In 2006, the team suffers a bad day from every runner and finishes a distant 7th place – Benzel stated that finally getting over the hump “feels awesome, especially senior year. To go out there and really have a great race ourselves is really gratifying.”
On the boys side, Dakota Ridge senior Evan Appel defends his title, but not without a fight from Walter Schafer. Schafer kept in Appel’s shadow throughout the race, passing him occasionally, until Appel finally pulled away in the final 400 meters.
Schafer couldn’t match Appel’s kick, but was able to hold off a strong push from Roblet Muhundin for second place.
“My plan was was to stick up front for as long as I could,” said Schafer, “and with about 800 to go, give it all I had.”
Schafer’s stellar performance wasn’t even the best performance on his own team, as Cherry Creek’s fifth runner, Riley Kleeman, came out of nowhere to run a 17:13 and secure a State Trophy for the Bruins, the first trophy since 1992.
“We were hurting for our fifth runner (throughout the season), for the most part,” said Cherry Creek coach Steve Lohman, “we told the 5th, 6th, and 7th runners that one of those guys would have to step up and be our 5th runner today.
“That’s what made the difference for us; we were able to get our 5th runner in before anyone else could,” said Coach Lohman.
Joe Manilafasha, the consensus #1 runner in the nation, flew out to a big early lead, leaving Wes Rickman playing catchup the whole race. Manilafasha flirted with running under 15 minutes for the third time this season, but settled for a 15:08, the fastest of the day.
The 4A boys team title was a three team race, with Falcon, defending 5A Champs Wheat Ridge, and Niwot all battling for the top spot. At first, it seemed as if it would be a dog fight between Wheat Ridge and Falcon, with Wes Rickman and Kevin Johnson of Falcon and Dart Schwaderer, Scott Fauble and Henry Cowhick of Wheat Ridge all finishing in the top ten.
But it was Falcon who was able to put together the deeper team and come out 4A State Champions. Falcon’s fifth runner, Dane Mahaffey, ran a 17:17 and placed 53rd, 42 spots ahead of Wheat Ridge’s fifth runner, Scott White.
It was business as usual for SW #3 Thompson Valley, as the Laura Tremblay squad ran away with the 4A girls team title with 133 points. Alicia Nelson of Moffat County, however, would not allow an Eagle sweep, and defeated Tremblay by 14 seconds.
Kaitlin Hanenburg, the star of SW #2 The Classical Academy, runs the second fastest time of the day with a 17:47, overcoming a surprise battle from Middle Park’s Samantha Berggren, who finished with a 17:50, the third and final girl to run under 18 minutes in the race.
The Classical Academy finished the day with a sweep of the team titles, but didn’t leave Fossil Ridge High School with a clean sweep, as Buena Vista’s Joseph DeMoor flew to a 15:28, defeating defending 3A State Champ Andrew Roberts in the process. DeMoor’s time was the third fastest of the day, behind Joe Manilafasha and Evan Appel.
Preview - All Quiet on the (South)Western Front: Colorado's best ready for final battle
by Cheyne Heiny
With the 2008 Colorado State Cross Country Championships less than 24 hours away, every team and individual qualified are preparing themselves for the biggest day of their high school lives.
From the big names-- Joe Manilafasha, Evan Appel, Allie McLaughlin, and Laura Tremblay-- to the under-the-radar #5 runners—Taylor Eidt of Chaparral, Quinn Harris of Niwot, Caitlin Hawkins of Highlands Ranch, and Katrina Zamudio of Mullen—they all have one common goal: to leave Fossil Ridge High School as State Champions.
Class 5A Boys:
2007 Individual Champion- Evan Appel (Dakota Ridge)
2007 Team Champions- Wheat Ridge
Top Harriers of 2008- Evan Appel (Dakota Ridge), Bobby Nicolls (Regis), Walter Schafer (Cherry Creek), Roblet Muhundin (Overland), Danny Nicolls (Regis), Clif Campbell (Ft Collins), Matt Bell (George Washington), Collin Munoz (Poudre), Garrett Wilson (Highlands Ranch), Austin Appel (Dakota Ridge)
State Outlook- This could very well be the closest team race in 5A history. There is no clear favorite as Regis, Loveland, Dakota Ridge, Cherry Creek, and Durango have all suffered losses to lower teams throughout the season. Individually, Appel and Nicolls headline what should be a deep field. Appel and Nicolls have gone back and forth this season, with Appel taking the reins at the Region 2 Championship last weekend, beating Nicolls by 20 seconds.
Bottom Line- Look for Appel and Nicolls to get out fast to control the pace, but don’t be surprised to see Walter Schafer at their heels throughout the race.
Heiny’s Prediction- Appel defeats Nicolls for the second straight week, defending his State Title. Fairview runs away with the team title, edging out Regis and Cherry Creek.
Class 5A Girls:
2007 Individual Champion- Alexa Rogers (Dakota Ridge)
2007 Team Champions- Dakota Ridge
Top Harriers of 2008- Allie McLaughlin (Air Academy), Natosha Rogers (Dakota Ridge), Miranda Benzel (Ft Collins), Eleanor Fulton (Highlands Ranch), Kaitie Vanatta (Dakota Ridge), Lisa Reyna (Ft Collins), Clare Gallagher (Cherry Creek), Kristin Kientz (Highlands Ranch), Camille Logan (Littleton), Lynnea Sjoerdsma (Doherty)
State Outlook- With Kaitie Vanatta back at full strength, this will be a three-team battle between Vanatta’s Eagles, Cherry Creek and Ft Collins. The Lambkins consistently put superb teams together, but haven’t been able to put the pieces together for a State Title. Allie McLaughlin has made a habit of dominating the field this season, and State should be no different, although Natosha Rogers will be pressing to keep the individual title in her family.
Bottom Line- The team race will come down to the wire; if Ft Collins runs a smart race, it’s theirs to lose.
Heiny’s Prediction- Ft Collins edges Dakota Ridge with four runners in the top 20. McLaughlin crushes the field to win the individual title.
Class 4A Boys:
2007 Individual Champion- Kevin Williams (D’Evelyn)
2007 Team Champions- Battle Mountain
Top Harriers of 2008- Joe Manilafasha (Denver North), Wes Rickman (Falcon), Kevin Johnson (Falcon), Dart Schwaderer (Wheat Ridge), Scott Fauble (Wheat Ridge), Henry Cowhick (Wheat Ridge), Andrew Berberick (Mullen), Ryan Haebe (Evergreen), Joe Kappes (Rock Canyon), Ryan Buchanen (Glenwood Spgs)
State Outlook- The 4A individual race will be every bit as interesting as exciting as 5A, and could produce faster times for the top 3. Joe Manilafasha is the clear favorite, having run sub-15 minutes twice this season. The battle for second, however, isn’t as easy to call. Wes Rickman cruised to a 15:21 last weekend on Bible Park, but Dart Schwaderer upset Evan Appel at Liberty Bell with a 15:14. The team race will be even more difficult to forsee, as Wheat Ridge, Falcon and Niwot all have a very legitimate shot at claiming the State Trophy.
Bottom Line- If Wheat Ridge wants to repeat as State Champions (5A last year), they will have to rely on Mike Van Sickle and Ethan Honaman to step it up.
Heiny’s Prediction- Manilafasha flys to a low 15 for the individual title. Falcon edges out Wheat Ridge and Niwot for the team trophy.
Class 4A Girls:
2007 Individual Champion- Erica Hinchcliffe (Greeley West)
2007 Team Champions- Greeley West
Top Harriers of 2008- Erica Hinchcliffe (Greeley West), Laura Tremblay (Thompson Valley), Ashlee Smalley (Greeley West), Bryn Haebe (Evergreen), Alicia Nelson (Moffat County), Sarah Swenson (Greeley West), Allie Parks (Greeley Central), Dani Grossman (Cheyenne Mountain), Ryan Russ (Mullen), Janelle Martinez (Greeley Central)
State Outlook- Greeley West has undoubtedly one of the best front 3 runners in the nation. Unfortunately for the Spartans, cross country scores the top five runners. And Greeley West doesn’t have two runners fast enough to defend their title, especially with Thompson Valley at full strength. Led by Laura Tremblay, the Eagles should run away from the rest of the pack and go home State Champions. Erica Hinchcliffe will be hard pressed to defend her individual title with Tremblay running her best at the right time; Tremblay defeated Hichcliffe by 23 seconds at the Region 2 Championships last week.
Bottom Line- It’s Thompson Valley’s race to lose, and they very well could if they’re not 100%. Watch for Mullen to keep close to the Eagles.
Heiny’s Prediction- Laura Tremblay, Thompson Valley sweeps 4A State, followed by Erica Hinchcliffe. Mullen holds on for second.
Class 3A Boys:
2007 Individual Champion- Andrew Roberts (Lyons)
2007 Team Champions- Rocky Ford
Top Harriers of 2008- Andrew Roberts (Lyons), Joseph DeMoor (Buena Vista), Amos Bowen (Brush), Sam Feldotto (The Classical Academy), Dylan Donohoe (Lyons)
State Outlook- Lyons was impressive at Dave Sanders earlier on the season, mixing it up with the top teams in Colorado (Dakota Ridge, Wheat Ridge and Chaparral squeaked by Lyons, but Regis was 5th, behind the Lions), but there will be some heavy competition in The Classical Academy, Colorado Academy and Faith Christian. Lyons’ star, Andrew Roberts, will have his hands full defending his title, with Joseph DeMoor running under 16 minutes and Amos Bowen peaking at the right time.
Bottom Line- Lyons will have to rely on their back three runners to have excellent races to hold off the Academy’s.
Heiny’s Prediction- Andrew Roberts repeats in dominating fashion, leading Lyons to the State Title.
Class 3A Girls:
2007 Individual Champion- Kaitlin Hanenburg (The Classical Academy)
2007 Team Champions- The Classical Academy
Top Harriers of 2008- Kaitlin Hanenburg (TCA), Samantha Berggren (Middle Park), Melissa Roberts (Lyons), Emily Husted (TCA), Kara Slavoski (St Mary’s)
State Outlook- It’s no secret who the clear favorite is in 3A: The Classical Academy. The Titans are running for their sixth straight team State Title, and with Kaitlin Hanenburg at the front, it should be a clean sweep. Samantha Berggren, however, has put together an outstanding year, and should be right up front fighting with Hanenburg.
Bottom Line- No one will come close to catching The Classical Academy, as they go home with their sixth consecutive State Trophy.
Heiny’s Prediction- Hanenburg defends her title with ease, as the Titans win once again.
- 9:30 AM: Class 2A Girls
- 10:00 AM: Class 2A Boys
- 10:30 AM: Class 3A Girls
- 11:00 AM: Class 4A Boys
- 11:30 AM: Class 5A Girls
- 12:00 PM: Class 3A Boys
- 12:30 PM: Class 4A Girls
- 1:00 PM: Class 5A Boys