COLORADO SPRINGS | Seeing the state championship favorite laying on the ground in the middle of a race tends to cause some recalculating.
That’s what happened for Grandview junior Erin Norton and Smoky Hill senior Rachael Chacko during the Class 5A girls state championship cross country race Oct. 27 at the Norris Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs, as the two Aurora standouts passed by Cherry Creek star Jordyn Colter slumped on the side just past the two-mile mark on the 3.1-mile course.
Colter — the defending 5A state champion and overwhelming pick to win her second straight title — had a big lead for more than half the race, but couldn’t finish, and the surprising development opened up new possibilities for the other elite runners in the field.
Norton took advantage, crossing the finish line in 6th place to become the first all-state runner in Grandview girls history and Chacko checked in 9th for Smoky Hill’s best individual girls result since Keara Sammons won the state championship in 2005.
“I saw Jordyn on the side and I thought ‘that changes a lot, now it’s anybody’s race,’” said Norton, who clocked a time of 19 minutes, 22.3 seconds. “At first I was going for top 10, but then I thought I should go for top seven.
“At the end I gave it all I could and tried to catch as many people as I could.”
On the final stretch before the end of the race inside the Norris Penrose stadium, Norton managed to pass Chacko — her friendly Aurora rival — as well as Dakota Ridge’s McKenna Spillar, which lifted her to all-state status.
Chacko improved two spots from her 2011 finish and was completely thrilled with her last state race. She ran without a plan and as hard as she could for the whole race, so she had no regrets.
“Honestly there’s nothing I’m unhappy with right now; I’m on top of the world,” Chacko said. “It threw me off for a split-second when I saw Jordyn on the ground, but you can’t control things around you. It was my race.”
Norton’s finish highlighted a 10th-place team finish for Grandview, which improved eight spots from its 2011 team result and led the four Aurora teams in the field. Chacko’s Smoky Hill team came in 16, with 22nd-place finisher Chloe Andrie giving a boost, while Madalyn Somer and Regis Jesuit were 18th and Amy McConnell-led Cherokee Trail came in 22nd in the 25-team field.
Somer came across the finish line in 39th in a time of 20:33.5 to pace Regis Jesuit in Aurora’s fourth-highest result.
As an individual, Eaglecrest junior Alicia Taurchini ran in her third state race and blew away her previous results with her 68th place finish. She was 123rd last season and 130th as a freshman in 2009.
Reach Sports Editor Courtney Oakes at email@example.com or 303-750-7555
2012 CLASS 5A GIRLS STATE CROSS COUNTRY
Oct. 27 at Norris Penrose Events Center
Team scores: 1. Monarch 91 points; 2. Fort Collins 98; 3. Pine Creek 100; 4. Mountain Vista 181; 5. Fairview 189; 6. Fossil Ridge 216; 7. ThunderRidge 248; 8. Cherry Creek 249; 9. Boulder 310; 10. GRANDVIEW (Erin Norton, Brooke Genovese, Nicole Mundy, Sylvana Ross, Rachel Shaw, Kayla Vallin, Lindsay Robinson) 314; 11. Arapahoe 33; 12. Heritage 350; 13. Castle View 355; 14. Loveland 357; 15. Palmer 378; 16. SMOKY HILL (Rachael Chacko, Chloe Andrie, Brynell Yount, Lana Yeager, Jamie Jezier, Emily Combs, Malika Sengsavath) 392; 17. Ralston Valley 397; 18. REGIS JESUIT (Madalyn Somer, Hannah Feehan, Meredith Hoggatt, Lindsey Koch, Jen Steyaert, Katherine Kelso, Fiona Murphy) 451; 19. Rocky Mountain 457; 20. Dakota Ridge 467; 21. Littleton 538; 22. CHEROKEE TRAIL (Amy McConnell, Lynsie Roper, Savannah Nesvold, Samantha Steele, Maria Redman, Tori Rodriguez, Miley Hall) 597; 23. Arvada West 597; 24. Legend 609; 25. Horizon 636
Top 10 individuals: 1. Heather Bates (Pine Creek), 18 minutes, 16.5 seconds; 2. Emma Gee (Legacy), 18:59.9; 3. Isabelle Kennedy (Fairview), 19:04.3; 4. Erin McLaughlin (Boulder), 19:11.9; 5. Melanie Nun (Legacy), 19:17.4; 6. ERIN NORTON (GRANDVIEW), 19:22.3; 7. McKenna Spillar (Dakota Ridge), 19:23.2; 8. Olivia Hayden (Lakewood), 19:32.9; 9. RACHAEL CHACKO (SMOKY HILL), 19:34.8; 10. Emily Wolff (Arapahoe), 19;42.6
Aurora individuals: 6. Erin Norton (Grandview), 19:22.3; 9. Rachael Chacko (Smoky Hill), 19:34.8; 22. Chloe Andrie (Smoky Hill), 20:07.7; 39. Madalyn Somer (Regis Jesuit), 20:33.5; 68. Alicia Taurchini (Eaglecrest), 21:02.4; 74. Brooke Genovese (Grandview), 21:06.7; 76. Nicole Mundy (Grandview), 21:09.4; 93. Sylvana Ross (Grandview), 21:20.8; 115. Hannah Feehan (Regis Jesuit), 21:44.6; 117. Rachel Shaw (Grandview), 21:46.7; 118. Meredith Hoggatt (Regis Jesuit), 21:46.8; 120. Amy McConnell (Cherokee Trail), 21:48.5; 123. Lindsey Koch (Regis Jesuit), 21:59.8; 127. Jen Steyaert (Regis Jesuit), 22:05.2; 128. Brynell Yount (Smoky Hill), 22:05.8; 135. Lynsie Roper (Cherokee Trail), 22:16.3; 139. Savannah Nesvold (Cherokee Trail), 22:19.0; 141. Samantha Steele (Cherokee Trail), 22:22.5; 142. Maria Redman (Cherokee Trail), 22:23.4; 143. Lana Yeager (Smoky Hill), 22:23.5; 146. Jamie Jezier (Smoky Hill), 22:25.3; 151. Tori Rodriguez (Cherokee Trail), 22:32.7; 164. Katherine Kelso (Regis Jesuti), 22:51.1; 166. Miley Hall (Cherokee Trail), 22:57.7; 171. Emily Combs (Smoky Hill), 23:09.0; 173. Kayla Vallin (Grandview), 23:12.3; 177. Fiona Murphy (Regis Jesuit), 23.22.7; 178. Lindsay Robinson (Grandview), 23:27.2; 186. Malika Sengsavath (Smoky Hill), 24:33.0