By Sam Wexler (State photos by Jeff McCoy)
On the spookiest day of October, the running ‘yotes earned their candy whilst competing among the state’s best down in Colorado Springs at the State meet. Although plagued by injuries to key runners, both the boys’ and girls’ teams still proved their place among the top of the Colorado running food chain, with their identical sixth place finishes on a new and arguably improved course at the Norris-Penrose event center. The day was highlighted by Isaac Green’s first state cross country championship over friend/rival Jake Mitchem from Broomfield. In typical Isaac fashion, the win highlighted the rest of his undefeated season with a monster kick to the line.
The girls toed the line first at 11 am. Lauren Gregory from Fort Collins was the overall winner for her third win of three trips down to the springs. Notably second was Brie Oakley of Grandview, a soccer player who decided to try out cross country, definitely a remarkable feat. The top Boulder Valley finisher was Claudia Burgess, friend and fellow camp attendee, from Boulder High School in 5th. With Holly Bent sidelined, Audrey Lookner took charge as the coyotes number one, running to a 17th place finish despite a tussle with other runners and rushing waters in the creek crossing at the end of the race. Hailey Leader came into the stadium next, with a solid 60th place performance, a good 16 places better than last year as a member of the Fairview team. Liz Hogan and Brooke Forsythe ran in together in 70th and 72nd places respectively. Brooke, only a freshman, has had remarkable improvement this year to become a consistent scorer for the coyotes and has a bright future ahead of her. Senior Captain Emily Hoffmann rounded out the scoring for the coyotes with her 84th place performance. From not being on the regional roster last year to being a scorer in the state meet, Emily has had a terrific last season as a coyotes. Best friend and running companion, Daisy Fuchs was not far behind in 88th place. Alden Gruidel was the seventh and final Monarch runner into the stadium with her 102nd place performance. The girls’ 253 points was good enough for sixth in a loaded field, Broomfield won with 112.
The boys race at 1 pm had an “isaac” cloud written all over it. Coming off an undefeated season, Isaac Green was in contention for the state title, could he do it? Yes, he could and he did. Isaac came into the stadium with Jake Mitchem from Broomfield at his heels, and then demonstrated his prowess on the track when he took off following Jake’s surge and cruised into the line for his first cross country state title. Isaac’s 11th place finish last year is now a distant memory, as he proves his dominance in the Colorado running circles with a win in the mile and now 5k in 2015. Senior Captain Ben Hogan was the number two runner for the coyotes with his 33rd place finish, a major improvement over his 53rd place finish last year. Zach Litoff’s 3rd place finish on the team and 56th place finish overall is one of the most impressive, as he went from being the alternative to being a key scorer for the coyotes within a year. Isaac Russo or “Isaac 2.0” leaped from JV last year to being the 4th scorer and 69th overall at the state meet this year, a feat mirrored by no one else on the guys or girls teams. Greg Hibl improved on his 93rd place finish at last years meet with an 86th place finish as the 5th and final scorer for the Coyotes. Jack Herrmann, like Zach, was able to run in the state meet after not being on the roster last year. His 106th place performance is impressive considering the tumble he took in the creek. As Audrey did, he got sucked into the mud and water right before the final descent to the finish. Declan Stone-Murphy, who stepped in due to an injured Charlie Perry, was still able to post a 160th place finish to finish out the Coyotes. Mountain Vista took the team race in impressive fashion. Their fourth consecutive state title with a jaw-dropping 50 points, 60 points ahead of runners-up, Fort Collins. The boys’ 224 points, aided by Isaacs 1 point, were able to post a 6th place finish, a major improvement on last years 13th place finish.
Not to be outdone, assistant coach and professional runner, Laura Thweatt, was over in New York making her debut in the marathon at the 2015 TCS Marathon, and boy did she make a debut. Laura hung with the lead pack through 21 miles. Chockful of olympians and record-holders alike, this in itself was a feat. She raced to a 7th place finish in a highly-decorated field and was the top American by over ten minutes. Her time of 2:28 is an average pace of 5:40 per mile for 26.2 miles, crazy really. Her first 5k split of 17:23 would have won the state cross country meet this year. Questions arose quickly about what she would do for the Olympic Trials, and they were answered and shut down quickly. Laura is going to continue to race track events in hopes of making the Rio Olympics in 2016 on the track. Overall, Laura’s debut was a success, and proved to the rest of the world what everyone at Monarch already knows, Laura Thweatt is the best coach, runner, and person out there. We are so lucky to have her as a motivator and coach.