Cross Country Finishes 5th at State Championships
By: Amy Peters
Seven athletes represented Lake County High School at the State Cross Country Championships in Colorado Springs last Saturday. Almost all of them ran their fastest races ever, resulting in exciting results.
The 2A boys kicked off the state competition at 9 am, early enough to enjoy the cool morning temperature. Fabian Jimenez, a junior, and senior Conner Lenhard took off quickly to get ahead of the crowd. They pushed each other to new personal records (PR’s) of 18 minutes 6 seconds and 18:07 respectively on the 5 kilometer course. Jimenez placed 24th and Lenhard was 25th.
Freshman Matt Cairns and senior Aaron Fierro both had to pause to throw up during the race, but they still accomplished PR’s. Cairns improved by over 30 seconds to reach 18:33 and 40th place. Fierro was 45th in 18:37.
Freshman Jace Peters and junior James Garrison got caught up in traffic off the start and expended a lot of effort passing competitors throughout the race, especially through the hilly 2nd mile. Peters finished 53rd with a PR of 18:46. Garrison took 85th out of 131 harriers in a time of 19:50, just 5 seconds off his PR.
Sixty-four schools in Colorado’s 2A division have cross country teams. Out of those 64 teams, only 20 qualify for the State Meet. From among those 20, the Panther men placed 5th! Each of the teams that beat LCHS had a stud runner who finished in the top 11. Lake County’s strength is in its pack, which finishes closer together than most teams.
Although this team performance isn’t as impressive as the many state titles Lake County won throughout the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, it is significantly better than anything in recent history. Back in 2002, Lake County’s boys team placed 5th at State. In 2004, they were 4th. No other LCHS team since then has placed in the top 10, and the Panthers didn’t even qualify as a team from 2008-2016. The team hopes that this performance will mark a new era of quality running from Lake County athletes.
Freshman Lady Panther Adele Horning also turned in a noteworthy race. Early in the race, Horning was in 18th place, but she worked her way up and finished 8th with a new personal best time of 20:37.
Because of her medal-winning performance, Horning now ranks among the best runners Lake County has had in this century. Since the turn of the century, only 3 Panther athletes have placed in the top 10 at State: Alex Willis was 4th in 2005, Robert Tekansik was 6th in 2012, and now Horning in 2019.
The 2019 State Championships were a satisfying end to an excellent season, and the team coaches are very excited about what the future holds for this program.