LITTLETON | Blake Yount saw an unexpected opportunity in a familiar situation and made the most of it.
Coming down the final stretch of the boys race at the Centennial League Cross Country Championships Thursday at deKoevend Park, the Smoky Hill junior trailed two Cherry Creek runners that regularly beat him by a significant margin with the finish line looming.
But something was different about this race and Yount decided to go for the victory. First, he picked off Daniel Book — who had a tradition of beating him stretching back to sixth grade — then turned his attention to Shane Rhodes. Yount pulled even in the final shoot, saw a surprised expression on Rhodes’ face and lunged across the finish line.
“I couldn’t feel my legs, I was just floating,” said Yount, who became Smoky Hill’s first league champion since Kyle Ames in 2011.
Yount — whose Buffaloes finished fourth as a team, nine points behind Grandview — and Rhodes both finished the 5K course in 16 minutes, 17 seconds.
The girls varsity race came to almost the exact same conclusion, with Grandview’s Erin Norton nearly matching Yount’s rally to a tee.
Cherry Creek’s Jordyn Colter — who led the entire race — had a significant gap on Norton with the finish line in sight, but Norton surged late. With an unexpected chance to the take the Bruins’ star by surprise, Norton got right up on Colter’s heels, but couldn’t get past to finish second by just one second.
Norton, who also finished second in 2012, clocked a time of 18:33 and helped lead the Wolves to second place in the team standings.
Grandview’s Craig Kinney and Nathan Graham finished 5th and 7th, respectively, to join Yount on the All-Centennial League first team, while Cherokee Trail’s Duncan Barnhill (9th), Smoky Hill’s Ryan Parker (12th) and Cherokee Trail’s Cody Jones (14th) earned second team honors.
Four Aurora girls made second team all-league in Yount’s twin sister, Brynell, who took eighth, followed by Eaglecrest’s Alicia Taurchini (9th), Grandview’s Nicole Mundy (12th) and Cherokee Trail’s Amy McConnell (14th).
2013 CENTENNIAL LEAGUE CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS
Oct. 10 at deKoevend Park
Boys team scores: 1. Arapahoe 48 points; 2. Cherry Creek 53; 3. GRANDVIEW (Craig Kinney, Nathan Graham, Jeff Sourthern, Mick Norton, Sam Ehrhard, Pravan Kalaga, Grayson Abele) 70; 4. SMOKY HILL (Blake Yount, Ryan Parker, Cody Miller, Philipp Coen, Michael Andress, Spencer Bradshaw, Michael Anthony) 79; 5. CHEROKEE TRAIL (Duncan Barnhill, Cody Jones, Kyle Jones, Nate Thomas, Jackson Cowley, Brandon Bullock, Simon Holloway) 110; 6. OVERLAND (Jonathan Sanchez, Michael Reno, Yosef Robele, Joseph Sanchez, Alex Martin, Bright Asamoah, Julian Lang)) 180; 7. EAGLECREST (Steven Tibbitts, Cameron Dwyer, Luke Meachem, Damien Squyers, Mitch Haug) 181; 8. Mullen 227
Aurora top 25 individuals: 1. Blake Yount (Smoky Hill), 16 minutes, 17 seconds; 5. Craig Kinney (Grandview), 16:29; 7. Nathan Graham (Grandview), 16:49; 9. Duncan Barnhill (Cherokee Trail), 16:54; 12. Ryan Parker (Smoky Hill), 17:01; 14. Cody Jones (Cherokee Trail), 17:12; 16. Kyle Jones (Cherokee Trail), 17:16; 17. Jeff Southern (Grandview), 17:18; 19. Cody Miller (Smoky HIll), 17:19; 19. Mick Norton (Grandview), 17:27; 22. Sam Ehrhard (Grandview), 17:32; 23. Philipp Coen (Smoky Hill), 17:36; 25. Michael Andress (Smoky Hill), 17:40
Girls team scores: 1. Cherry Creek 23 points; 2. GRANDVIEW (Erin Norton, Nicole Mundy, Kayla Vallin, Melanie Jenkins, Sylvana Ross, Brittany Bender, Rachel Shaw), 64; 3. Arapahoe 86; 4. CHEROKEE TRAIL (Amy McConnell, Jordan Herrera, Breanna Wheeler, Savannah Nesvold, Lynsie Roper, Tori Rodriguez, Maria Redman) 102; 5. SMOKY HILL (Brynell Yount, Jamie Jezier, Lesley Fatica, Svetlana Yeager, Madison Munns, Carlen Andrie) 121; 6. EAGLECREST (Alicia Taurchini, Janine Taurchini, Jordanne Stobbs-Vergara, Sam Morgan Cassidy Henderson, Tara Vigil, Patricia Albentosa) 150; 7. Mullen 202
Aurora top 25 individuals: 2. Erin Norton (Grandview), 18 minutes, 33 seconds; 8. Brynell Yount (Smoky Hill), 19:43; 9. Alicia Taurchini (Eaglecrest), 19:46; 12. Nicole Mundy (Grandview), 20:09; 14. Amy McConnell (Cherokee Trail), 20:12; 15. Kayla Vallin (Grandview), 20:14; 16. Melanie Jenkins (Grandview), 20:14; 17. Jamie Jezier (Smoky Hill), 20:20; 18. Janine Taurchini (Eaglecrest), 20:33; 19. Sylvana Ross (Grandview), 20:49; 20. Jordan Herrera (Cherokee Trail), 20:49; 21. Breanna Wheeler (Cherokee Trail), 20:09; 23. Savannah Nesvold (Cherokee Trail), 21:11; 24. Lynsie Roper (Cherokee Trail), 21:16
Courtney Oakes is Sports Editor of the Aurora Sentinel. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. Facebook: Aurora Prep Sentinel