Cherokee Trail junior Cameron McConnell, right, keeps contact with Cherry Creek’s Riley Stewart early in the Class 5A girls state cross country race on Oct. 17, 2020, at the Norris Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs. Stewart eventually pulled away and McConnell went on to finish second for a second straight season. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Sentinel Colorado)

COLORADO SPRINGS | Though it looked different and came on the biggest stage, Saturday’s Class 5A girls state cross country race unfolded pretty much exactly like almost every other race this season for Cherokee Trail’s Cameron McConnell.

For McConnell, that meant start strong, take the measure of Cherry Creek’s Riley Stewart and then run her own race once Stewart inevitably gained separation.

It happened a few times during the coronavirus-altered regular season with the Centennial League facing only each other and again on the course at the Norris Penrose Events Center, when McConnell finished second to Stewart in the individual standings as she did in 2019.

McConnell crossed the finish line in 18 minutes, 0.5 seconds, to earn her third All-State award in as many seasons. Her Cougars — the only Aurora team to qualify for this season’s smaller state meet — finished fifth in a tight team chase won by Stewart and the Bruins, with Arapahoe second.

“It went like it has been all season, just Riley taking us out pretty fast, then she jumps ahead in the second mile,” said McConnell, who was third as a freshman and has been second the past two seasons.

“It was about the same as any other race this season,” she added. “I checked out a little bit in the middle of the race, but checked back in during the last mile because I knew Emma (Stutzman) from Pomona was coming and I didn’t want to get passed.”

Sophomore Alexis Pagel ran in the second wave and moved up with a 21st place individual finish in her state debut for Cherokee Trail, while sophomore Mckenna Mazeski grabbed 28th (up from 35th in 2019). Seniors Megan Hodges (48th), Campbell Faust (52nd) and Lauren Hodges (55th) rounded out the results for the Cougars.

Regis Jesuit had two individuals qualified for the meet and both junior Amelie Colsman and senior Mikayla Smith improved from 2019, when they ran at state with their team.

Colsman ran almost a minute and a half faster than the previous year on the same course and finished 35th this time after coming in 91st a year ago, while Smith (93rd a year ago) came in 80th this time.

Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected]: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports

2020 CLASS 5A GIRLS STATE CROSS COUNTRY MEET

Team scores: 1. Cherry Creek 42 points; 2. Arapahoe 82; 3. Valor Christian 90; 4. Mountain Vista 103; 5. CHEROKEE TRAIL 130 (Cameron McConnell, Alexis Pagel, Mckenna Mazeski, Megan Hodges, Campbell Faust, Lauren Hodges); 6. Pine Creek 201; 7. Broomfield 204; 8. Fairview 206; 9. Fruita Monument 211; 10. Douglas County 276; 11. Denver East 281; 12. Rock Canyon 286; 13. Fossil Ridge 295; 14. Loveland 301; 15. Rocky Mountain 380

Top 10 individuals: 1. Riley Stewart (Cherry Creek), 17 minutes, 33.80 seconds; 2. CAMERON MCCONNELL (CHEROKEE TRAIL), 18:00.50; 3. Emma Stutzman (Pomona), 18:09.10; 4. Ava Mitchell (Arapahoe), 18:13.20; 5. Shelby Balding (Cherry Creek), 18:20.60; 6. Taylor Whitfield (Valor Christian), 18:20.70; 7. Brooke Wilson (Valor Christian), 18:28.10; 8. Emily Lamontagne (Arapahoe), 18:34.30; 9. Ella Johns (Fort Collins), 18:40.40; 10. Addison Price (Cherry Creek), 18:41.70

Aurora individuals: 21. Alexis Pagel (Cherokee Trail), 19:07.70; 28. Mckenna Mazeski (Cherokee Trail), 19:26.40; 35. Amelie Colsman (Regis Jesuit), 19:35.10; 48. Megan Hodges (Cherokee Trail), 20:03.10; 52. Campbell Faust (Cherokee Trail), 20:09.80; 55. Lauren Hodges (Cherokee Trail), 20:20.20; 80. Mikayla Smith (Regis Jesuit), 21:05.50

— Complete Class 5A girls state cross country results, here