AURORA | Finally healthy, Lindsey Koch is ready to see where the 2014 cross country season takes her.
The Regis Jesuit senior, who has battled injuries since a strong freshman season, won for the second time early in the new campaign by taking the girls race at the annual Aurora City Championships Thursday at the Aurora Sports Park.
Koch didn’t even finish in the top 14 of last year’s city meet, but there she was crossing the finish line 38 seconds ahead of sophomore teammate Julia Vitella to claim the city title. Led by the 1-2 punch of Koch and Vitella, the Raiders finished in third place, two points behind runner-up Cherokee Trail and 21 in back of team champion Smoky Hill.
“I’m happy with how the last couple of races have gone and I hope they keep getting better and I keep getting faster,” said Koch, who also won the Cheyenne Mountain Stampede at the Norris Penrose Event Center — site of the state cross country meet — Aug. 21.
“I haven’t really done this week since my freshman year since I got injured, so I’m just going to keep enjoying it, running my hardest and we’ll see where I end up,” she added.
With the top three finishers from last season’s race graduated — champion Erin Norton of Grandview (an all-state performer), runner-up Alicia Taurchini of Eaglecrest and Smoky Hill’s Chloe Andrie — the race for the top spot was wide open.
Both Koch and Vitella started conservatively for the first mile, but eventually worked their way tot the front of the field and stayed there for the remainder of the race.
Koch expanded her lead on the closing stretch, pulling away on a course that saw some modifications from last season. The finishing stretch hugged the ridge on the south end of the Sports Park and made a 90-degree turn to the finish line instead of the diagonal finish as in years past.
“I liked how we stayed on the ridge and didn’t come across the field,” Koch said. “I thought it was the same distance, but it might have been a little longer. I enjoyed it.”
Vitella — Aurora’s highest-finishing returning runner from last season’s 5A state meet when she finished 18th — kept a close eye on the long-striding Koch, but couldn’t make up the ground. She settled for a time of 20:02 and a four-spot improvement from her sixth place result in 2013.
“I just wanted to stick with her and I was thinking if anytime, I would go at the end,” Vitella said. “We definitely wanted to stick together and go 1-2.”
Just a few seconds behind Vitella in third place came Grandview freshman Peyton Dailey, who added another fine finish to resume early in her debut season. Dailey finished third in the Cheyenne Mountain Stampede and was 27th in the Arapahoe Warrior Invitational.
The race went pretty much to plan for Dailey, who was joined on the All-City team (top seven) by fellow frosh Caroline Robbins, who came in sixth.
“I was right up there with the Regis girls and that was our goal; they’re a really strong team and it was great to run with them,” Dailey said. “Individually, my strategy was not to go out too hard on the first mile, then just have those girls I know up there who are better than me in my sights so I could work hard.”
Smoky Hill runners focused on running together and they came across the finish line that way.
Senior Brynell Yount — whose twin brother Blake won the boys race — and senior Jamie Jezier finished 4th and 5th, respectively, just two seconds apart, while sophomore Emmah Johannes and senior Lesley Fatica came across 8th and 9th.
Sophomore Carlie Andrie rounded out the scoring for the Buffaloes in 15th.
“We’ve been focusing on this race all week and making sure we had our team strong to do it,” Yount said.
Cherokee Trail’s Jordan Herrera claimed the last All-City first team spot with her seventh-place finish.
Courtney Oakes is Sports Editor of the Aurora Sentinel. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @aurorasports. Facebook: Aurora Prep Sentinel. IG: Auroraprepsentinel.
2014 AURORA CITY CHAMPIONSHIP CROSS COUNTRY MEET
Sept. 4 at Aurora Sports Park
Girls team scores: 1. Smoky Hill (Brynell Yount, Jamie Jezier, Emmah Johannes, Lesley Fatica, Carlie Andrie, Julie Eoff, Lana Yeager) 41 points; 2. Cherokee Trail (Jordan Herrera, Brea Wheeler, Jessica Brookie, Savanah Nesvold, Amy McConnell, Lynsie Roper, Hannah Laurie) 60; 3. Regis Jesuit (Lindsey Koch, Julia Vitella, Katie Schilmoeller, Sydney Lundquist, Lily Brucker, Catie Vitella, Katie Buchman) 62; 4. Grandview (Peyton Dailey, Caroline Robbins, Nicole Mundy, Sylvana Ross, Rachel Shaw, Kayla Vallin, Marisa Welsh) 65; 5. Eaglecrest (Janine Taurchini, Jess McQuaid, Cassidy Henderson, Tara Vigil, Jordanne Stubbs-Vergara, Rebecca McMillian, Emily Hunter) 150; 6. Hinkley (Merhawet Taeme, Nathalie Gomez, Maria Acevedo, Monica Carreta, Kim Quinonez, Enbbeba Taeme, Esmerelda Cabrera) 162; 7. Rangeview (Morgan Bloyer, Megan Shanahan, Sydney Comet, Yalitza Topete, Katie Stockinger, Arielle Maes, Shynell Moore) 185; 8. Aurora Central (Maria Millian Toledo, Dulce Gonzalez Beltran, Marlene Mendozas Pachecho, Aiden Martinez, Elizabeth Niyoyankunze) 259
First team all-city (places 1-7): 1. Lindsey Koch (Regis Jesuit), 19 minutes, 34 seconds; 2. Julia Vitella (Regis Jesuit), 20:02; 3. Peyton Dailey (Grandview), 20:05; 4. Brynell Yount (Smoky Hill), 20:28; 5. Jamie Jezier (Smoky Hill), 20:30; 6. Caroline Robbins (Grandview), 20:36; 7. Jordan Herrera (Cherokee Trail), 20:40; Second team all-city (places 8-14): 8. Emmah Johannes (Smoky Hill), 20:46; 9. Lesley Fatica (Smoky Hill), 21:04; 10. Brea Wheeler (Cherokee Trail), 21:12; 11. Nicole Mundy (Grandview), 21:15; 12. Jessica Brookie (Cherokee Trail), 21:16; 13. Janine Taurchini (Eaglecrest), 21:22; 14. Savanah Nesvold (Cherokee Trail), 21:22