XC Program Competes at State Meet Girls Finish in Second Place!
By Coach Peters:
For the first time since 2005, Lake County High School took 2 full teams to the State Cross Country Championships, which were contested in Colorado Springs on Saturday, October 17.
The start of the race looked very different this year because of COVID-19 restrictions. Instead of having all 100 runners begin the race at the same time, the competitors were divided into 4 waves of 25 harriers, based on their finishing positions at regional qualifiers. Athletes who finished in the top 6 places at regionals started in the 1st wave. Those who placed 7th-12th at their regional meet started in wave 2, and the rest of the runners who qualified as part of a team were divided between waves 3 and 4. The waves left the starting line approximately 45 seconds apart.
Sophomore Jace Peters took off in wave 1. He ran a smart race and finished in his 2nd best time ever- 18 minutes 30 seconds. At the 2019 state meet, Peters placed 53rd, but this year, he took 20th. Fabian Jimenez, a senior, started as part of the 2nd wave. With a strong 2nd half of the race, he overtook several of the wave 1 runners, placing 18th in 18:28. The rest of the Panther men were placed in wave 4. Senior James Garrison headed right to the front of his group and held that position throughout the race, catching runners from wave 3 on his way to a final time of 20:04. Last year, Garrison placed 85th at state; this year he was 68th. Freshman Josiah Horning took the 85th place spot this year, completing the course in 21:04. Abel Gonzales, another freshman, filled in for injured Matt Cairns. Gonzales finished 93rd in a new personal best time of 21:23.
As a team, the boys placed 9th, beating the Twin Peaks Charter Academy, with whom they had tied at regionals.
The Lady Panthers entered the meet with ambitions of bringing home a trophy. The Buena Vista women were the clear favorites to win. They were dominant at their regional meet, with their 5 runners sweeping the top 5 positions. Because of that performance, all 5 of BV’s runners started in wave 1, a big advantage. The Panthers had 2 athletes in wave 1, sophomore Adele Horning and freshman Rose Horning. The Horning sisters were patient through the first half of the race and reeled in the BV girls in the 3rd mile. With 800 meters to go, the Hornings and BV’s top 2 girls were in a pack together. Mallory Salazar, of Buena Vista, crossed the line first, in 20:19 and 3rd place overall. Adele finished 5th overall in a personal best time of 20:25. Rose was close behind, taking 6th in 20:30, her fastest time by 23 seconds. Buena Vista’s 2nd runner, Zaila Smith, placed 7th in 20:46.
Keira King , a freshman, ran away from the rest of the girls in wave 2, and although she couldn’t see Buena Vista’s 3rd runner, she came close to catching her. BV’s 3rd harrier placed 12th in 21:29, and King finished 15th in a new personal record (PR) of 21:44. Violet Hill, another freshman, kicked off in wave 3. She cut over a minute off her PR, running 22:53 for 36th place. BV’s 4th girl took 26th place, sealing the win for the Demons. Rounding out the Panther team, senior Michaela Main accomplished another PR, 23:47, which earned her 49th place.
In the final team tally, Buena Vista took 1st with a score of 31 points, but the Lady Panthers weren’t far behind, scoring 41 points. The 3rd place team, Lyons, had 93 points. It was a great showing for the Arkansas Valley teams!