Cross Country: Norton, Wolves look to continue rise in 2013; Buffs boys improved

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Erin Norton’s time has arrived.

It started at the end of last season when she placed an Aurora-best sixth at Class 5A state meet, but should continue in 2013.

With both Rikki Gonzales of Rangeview and Smoky Hill’s Rachael Chacko having graduated in the past two seasons, Norton clearly becomes the city’s cross country runner to watch this season.

Besides the potential for a top-five finish at this season’s state meet, Norton’s presence is also important for leadership, as she tries to fill a void left by the graduation of captain Brooke Genovese.

With seven runners back, including juniors Nicole Mundy, Sylvana Ross and Rachel Shaw and sophomore Melanie Jenkins, coach Allyson Robbins believes a top-five team finish is a possibility when the 5A state meet is contested Oct. 26 at the Norris Penrose Equestrian Center in Colorado Springs.

Pace-setter and 2012 Aurora city champion Chacko — who placed 10th last season — graduated, so Chloe Andrie assumes the leadership role for the Smoky Hill girls and hopes to make her own run at a podium spot as a senior. Andrie finished 22nd last season.

Regis Jesuit features state experienced Hannah Feehan and Madalyn Somer, rising Cherokee Trail is headed by improving sophomore Amy McConnell and Eaglecrest senior Alicia Taurchini is looking for her fourth career trip to state among other girls highlights.

Aurora boys are looking for better results at this season’s state meet than in 2012, when only one runner managed to crack the top 50.

Smoky Hill graduated its top two finishers from last season, but juniors Blake Yount and Cody Miller and senior Ryan Parker had great track seasons in the spring and hope it translates to cross country. Junior Amir Kassahan adds potential that has Smoky Hill coaches believing the Buffs could rise into the top 10 as a team.

Overland has some holdovers from making state as a team last year, while Grandview returns seniors Craig Kinney, Jeff Southern and Grayson Abele, plus junior Mick Norton from last season’s strong group.

Courtney Oakes is Sports Editor of the Aurora Sentinel. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. Facebook: Aurora Prep Sentinel

2013 AURORA CROSS COUNTRY SEASON

Key dates: Aug. 29 — Regular season begins; Sept. 5 — Aurora City Championships (Aurora Sports Park); Oct. 17-19 — Regionals completed; Oct. 26 — State meet (Norris Penrose Equestrian Center, Colorado Springs)

Aurora boys runner to watch: Grayson Abele, Grandview, sr.; Oscar Briones-Ruiz, Hinkley, jr.; Sam Ehrhard, Grandview, jr.; Matt Hearley, Regis Jesuit, sr.; Amir Kassahan, Smoky Hill, jr.; Craig Kinney, Grandview, sr.; Luke Meachem, Eaglecrest, sr.; Cody Miller, Smoky Hill, jr.; Mick Norton, Grandview, jr.; John O’Hagan, Regis Jesuit, jr.; Ryan Parker, Smoky Hill, sr.; Michael Reno, Overland, soph.; Jonathan Sanchez, Overland, sr.; Joseph Sanchez, Overland, sr.; Jeff Southern, Grandview, sr.; Steve Tibbitts, Eaglecrest, sr.; Devundrick Walker, Gateway, sr.; Blake Yount, Smoky Hill, jr.

Aurora girls runner to watch: Chloe Andrie, Smoky Hill, sr.; Rileigh Casebolt, Overland, sr.; Hannah Feehan, Regis Jesuit, sr.; Melanie Jenkins, Grandview, soph.; Jamie Jezier, Smok Hill, jr.; Amy McConnell, Cherokee Trail, soph.; Nicole Mundy, Grandview, jr.; Savanah Nesvold, Cherokee Trail, soph.;  Erin Norton, Grandview, sr.; Maria Redman, Cherokee Trail; Lynsie Roper, Cherokee Trail; Sylvana Ross, Grandview, jr.; Madalyn Somer, Regis Jesuit, sr.; Merhawet (Mary) Taeme, Hinkley, jr.; Alicia Taurchini, Eaglecrest, sr.; Janine Taurchini, Eaglecrest, soph.; Kayla Vallin, Grandview, soph.; Nadia Wylie, Overland, sr.; Brynell Yount, Smoky Hill, jr.