COLORADO SPRINGS | Caden Smith didn’t have much left in the tank in the closing stages of Saturday’s Class 5A boys state cross country race, but he summoned all he had left to finish strong.
In a race run in four separate waves due to the coronavirus pandemic — where final places weren’t assured until all 100 runners had crossed the finish line at the Norris Penrose Events Center — the Cherokee Trail senior ended up with a ninth-place finish.
Smith, the Centennial League champion, posted by far his best finish in his three career trips to the state meet, as he crossed the finish line in 16 minutes, 6.70 seconds, to earn a medal as part of the top 10. The Cougars finished last as a team in 2019, but this time ended up ninth out of 15 teams, besting Cherry Creek by six points for league-best honors as well.
“At the end of the second mile, I started losing it and the third mile, I was gassed; it was just me holding on,” said Smith, who covered the same 3.1-mile course nearly 38 seconds faster than the year before.
“It’s about where I wanted to be, so I can’t be upset with it,” he added. “Not too shabby. I was hoping for a little bit higher placement, but overall, I’m pleased.”
The entire field unsuccessfully chased Cherry Creek senior Parker Wolfe, who was determined to take down the course record in the event and did so with a run of 15:10.40 that earned him a win by 17 seconds. Wolfe — who bettered the mark of 15:12.70 clocked by Valor Christian’s Cole Sprout a year earlier — posted the top time in the entire country earlier in the season at the Heritage Distance Classic.
Cherokee Trail’s six state runners were spread out among all four waves, which made team continuity difficult, as it did for other teams as well.
Following Smith — who improved greatly in both time and place from his 2019 finish when he was 38th in 16:44.50 — for the Cougars was senior Gavyn Welsh in 54th (who was a full minute faster than last season, when he finished 140th) plus sophomores Evan Armstrong (113th in 2019), Reuben Holness and Josh Lewis in places 63-65. Sophomore Logan McGowan (142nd last season) finished 73rd.
Grandview, which finished 12th out of 15 teams, had the next-best individual finishes in the senior duo of Jake Sheykhet and Peter Fox, who took 15th and 17th, respectively. Both had been within range of Smith all season and finished less than 20 seconds behind him at state.
Sheykhet made his third state trip and managed to greatly move up from his previous best finish, 38th as a sophomore in 2018, while Fox also rose tremendously as he moved up 49 spots from his 66th place last season in his only previous state experience.
Rounding out the Wolves’ state contingent were junior Jacob Blevins (76th), sophomore Andrew Fox (79th), junior Tyler Garfield (85th) and freshman Owen Zitek (97th), all of which made their state debuts.
Aurora’s two individual qualifiers — Eaglecrest senior Sawyer Slauson and Smoky Hill sophomore Noble Haskell — finished 48th and 78th, respectively.
Haskell finished in front of Slauson at the Region 1 meet and both were part of Wave 2, but the Raptors’ senior crossed the finish line 37 seconds ahead of Haskell at the state meet.
Mountain Vista won the 5A state team title by a comfortable margin over Chaparral.
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or email@example.com. Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports
2020 CLASS 5A BOYS STATE CROSS COUNTRY MEET
Team scores: 1. Mountain Vista 80 points; 2. Chaparral 124; 3. Fairview 144; 4. Valor Christian 147; 5. Dakota Ridge 156; 6. Ralston Valley 185; 7. Rock Canyon 195; 8. Broomfield 214; 9. CHEROKEE TRAIL 215 (Caden Smith, Gavyn Welsh, Evan Armstrong, Reuben Holness, Josh Lewis, Logan McGowan); 10. Cherry Creek 221; 11. Castle View 224; 12. GRANDVIEW 235 (Jake Sheykhet, Peter Fox, Jacob Blevins, Andrew Fox, Tyler Garfield, Owen Zitek); 13. Rocky Mountain 263; 14. Fossil Ridge 265; 15. Horizon 298
Top 10 individuals: 1. Parker Wolfe (Cherry Creek), 15 minutes, 10.40 seconds (course record); 2. Ben Colin (Rampart), 15:27; 3. Caleb Boutelle (Pine Creek), 15:31; 4. Henry Murphy (Fairview), 15:41.30; 5. Lukas Haug (Boulder), 15:44; 6. James Thomas (Broomfield), 15:47.40; 7. Ryan Montera (Legacy), 15:57.80; 8. Ty Garrett (Valor Christian), 16:06.30; 9. CADEN SMITH (CHEROKEE TRAIL), 16:06.70; 10. Jayden Nats (Mountain Vista), 16:11
Aurora individuals: 15. Jake Sheykhet (Grandview), 16:21.70; 17. Peter Fox (Grandview), 16:23.70; 48. Sawyer Slauson (Eaglecrest), 17:23.10; 54. Gavyn Welsh (Cherokee Trail), 17:32.40; 63. Evan Armstrong (Cherokee Trail), 17:39.30; 64. Reuben Holness (Cherokee Trail), 17:39.60; 65. Josh Lewis (Cherokee Trail), 17:40.80; 73. Logan McGowan (Cherokee Trail), 17:56.80; 76. Jacob Blevins (Grandview), 17:59.20; 78. Noble Haskell (Smoky Hill), 18:00.70; 79. Andrew Fox (Grandview), 18:01.70; 85. Tyler Garfield (Grandview), 18:09.30; 97. Owen Zitek (Grandview), 18:28.80
— Complete Class 5A boys state cross country results, here