It can be difficult to defend a championship, but two individual athletes from Douglas County schools and the Mountain Vista girls team repeated during the CHSAA Cross Country Championships, which …
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It can be difficult to defend a championship, but two individual athletes from Douglas County schools and the Mountain Vista girls team repeated during the CHSAA Cross Country Championships, which were held Oct. 27 at the Norris Penrose Event Center in Colorado Springs.
Mountain Vista junior Jenna Fitzsimmons won her second consecutive Class 5A individual title and helped the Golden Eagles girls team capture the state crown for the second straight season with a 44-point advantage over runner-up Cherry Creek.
Cole Sprout, a junior at Valor Christian and last season's Class 4A boys state champion, made it to the top of the podium for the second year in a row by winning the 5A state title.
Mountain Vista's defending state champion boys team didn't have anybody finish in the top 10 but bunched the five scoring runners within 16 places of each other high in the standings and took home the second-place team trophy.
Fitzsimmons was second at the mile marker but entered the arena and ran toward the finish line all by herself with a 13-second advantage over Valor Christian sophomore Taylor Whitfield. Fitzsimmons had a winning time of 18:12.3.
She was one of three Golden Eagles girls to finish in the top 10. Sarah O'Sullivan was sixth and Madison Reed 10th. Caroline Eck was 12th and the fifth scoring runner Makenna Anderson was 21st.
“We just tried to go into every race super loose, knowing we have something to do but not putting a ton of pressure on us,” said Fitzsimmons. “It's so fun to have such an amazing team. We all push each other.
“It was a fun race. There were some ups and downs. Your mind is kind of going everywhere. I knew I had it won once I came in. Anytime I was doubting myself and I was not sure what was going to happen I just thought about doing it for the other girls on the team and knowing they're putting in the work and every point counts for what we're going to do.”
Sprout, the only boys competitor for Valor Christian, was timed in a course record 15:16.1 and enjoyed an over 24-second margin of victory in his first state championship appearance in the state's highest classification.
“They were both pretty challenging,” admitted Sprout when ask which state title felt best. “I felt a lot stronger this year for sure, a lot faster.
“I was pretty optimistic that I had a good chance of winning. The first two miles I had the two Dakota Ridge guys (Connor Ohlson and Austin Vancil) with me... It felt awesome especially to have a fast time. Super humbling for sure.”
Mountain Vista boys and girls coach Jonathan Dalby was feeling awesome about the performance of his girls and the second-place boys team that had five athletes running in their first state meet.
“We just wanted the girls to come in and run the best for each other,” he said. “Obviously, we hoped we could come and repeat this year. All year we've talked about being the best version of ourselves that we could be and not compare ourselves to anybody else.”
Whitfield tried her best and is being compared to some of the other top runners in the state but couldn't keep pace with Fitzsimmons over the final mile.
“I am amazed how good she is,” said Whitfield. “She set the pace. I gave my best. The girls are so fast. It's hard to know what is going to happen in the race.”
Aidyn Woodall, a freshman from Douglas County, was seventh.
“I felt like I ran great,” said Woodall. “It was a little tough at first. I just had to push it. I had a lot of energy at the beginning and then slowed down in the middle but picked it up again at the end.”
Valor Christian's girls were ninth among the 20 teams competing for the team crown. The boys 5A team standings were dotted with county teams.
Legend used an eighth-place showing by Ryan S Johnson to get fourth place. Castle View was sixth and Chaparral ninth.
In the 3A boys race, SkyView Academy freshman Owen Nolan was sixth and crossed the finish line just in front of senior teammate Tyler Scholl, who was seventh. The Hawks were fifth in the final team results.
“It was a crazy experience,” Nolan said of his first state championship race in which he turned in a time of 16:36.3. “I just tried to stay with guys. I felt pretty good. I tried not to go all out at the beginning and finish strong."
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