Cross Country: Grandview rises, Aurora cross country remains strong

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With a city championship now to their credit, the Grandview cross country team has bigger things on its mind in the rest of the 2012 season.

The Wolves won the combined team title at the 32nd running of the Aurora City Cross Country Championship meet for the first time on Sept. 6 at the Aurora Sports Park, in addition to taking the first girls city team title.

It was quite a start for coach Allyson Robbins’ Grandview team, which also performed well at the pre-state meet a week earlier in Colorado Springs.

“We’ve had a little taste of success the past few years and all of a sudden we have some higher expectations,” said Robbins, who had her boys and girls team qualify for state in the same season for the first time in school history in 2011.

The bar for the Grandview girls is particularly high thanks to the presence of junior Erin Norton and senior Brooke Genovese, the top 1-2 punch in Aurora. The duo finished second and third, respectively, behind Smoky Hill standout Rachael Chacko in the chase for the individual city title.

Norton bested Chacko a week earlier at the pre-state race at the Norris Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs — the new site of the state meet as Cheyenne Mountain has taken up hosting duties from Smoky Hill — and should be a strong contender. She is likely to make a big jump from her 32nd-place finish in 2011.

Genovese, who made the all-city team for the fourth time in her career, said she feels as good as she has in her entire career and she’s looking forward to what the Wolves can accomplish.

Behind her two standouts, Robbins has real depth for the first time. Melanie Jenkins and Nicole Mundy each were top-seven finishers at the city meet.

The Wolves — who were sixth in the girls ranks at the pre-state meet — are aiming to make it back to state and come through with a big performance after some frustrating results in the past.

Chacko is back in fine form for Smoky Hill and finished seventh at the pre-state meet, where she admitted she wasn’t completely ready mentally.

She made a statement in the city championship race, as she passed Norton and dominated the last two miles to finish in 18 minutes, 22 seconds. Chacko became the first new girl to win a city championship since Grandview’s Jamie Anderson in 2008.

Rangeview’s Rikki Gonzales won the past three years and set a high bar, finishing third individually at state last season.

Second in the city in 2011, Chacko worked hard in the offseason and has her mind set on making a run at an individual state title.

“That would be awesome, it would be a great way to cap my senior year, but we’ll see,” said Chacko, who was 11th last season. “I just want to run my hardest and not having any regrets.”

With support by junior Chloe Andrie, sophomore Brynell Yount and a deep group, Smoky Hill has one of its better teams in recent years and coach Jeff Bliven believes it could be a group that makes the top 10 at state. The Buffaloes were 21st last season.

The Regis Jesuit girls won the city championship in 2011 and made state as a team for the first time since moving up to 5A. The Raiders have six of seven state runners back and finished third at the city meet, despite missing senior standout Erin Schilmoeller.

Eaglecrest junior Alicia Taurchini has qualified for state individually in her first two seasons and her fifth-place finish at the city meet showed the form that should have her there again.

Despite the graduation of five seniors, including Kyle Ames, Tanner Ruhl and Zach McConnel, Smoky Hill remains the top boys team in Aurora.

The Buffaloes won the boys team city championship for the eighth time in the past decade and 11th time since 1998 as seniors Charlie Kleeman and Dan Kasberg finished 1-3.

Kleeman extended Smoky Hill’s tradition in winning the boys race, picking up where two-time champion Ames left off. The showings of Kasberg and fourth-place finisher Blake Yount helped the sophomore-laden Buffaloes to a 15-point victory over Grandview.

The Wolves were led by the second-place finish of Nick Horton, who ran behind Kleeman and Kasberg for most of the race before surging past Kasberg just before the finish line.

A senior-laden Wolves team featuring Horton, Kevin Noto — who made the all-city team in seventh — Keenan O’Brien and David Oberndorf have high hopes.

Regis Jesuit’s Frank Morton (5th) and Cherokee Trail’s Johnny Droege (6th) also got into the top seven at the city meet and should lead their respective teams.

Reach Sports Editor Courtney Oakes at [email protected] or 303-750-7555

2012 AURORA CROSS COUNTRY

Key dates — Regionals: Oct. 17-18; State meet: Oct. 27 at Norris Penrose Event Center, Colorado Springs

Aurora 2012 runners to watch:  Boys — Mohammed Abdi, Overland, sr.; Junior Casillas, Vista PEAK, jr.; Aldair Cid-Gonzalez, Overland, sr.; Johnny Droege, Cherokee Trail, sr.; Damian Florez, Vista PEAK, jr.; Nick Horton, Grandview, sr.; Dan Kasberg, Smoky Hill, sr.; Charlie Kleeman, Smoky Hill, sr.; Luke Meachem, Eaglecrest, jr.; Cody Miller, Smoky Hill, soph.; Frank Morton, Regis Jesuit, sr.; Sean Morton, Regis Jesuit, sr.; Kevin Noto, Grandview, sr.; David Oberndorf, Grandview, sr.;  Keenan O’Brien, Grandview, sr.; John O’Hagan, Regis Jesuit, soph.; Ryan Parker, Smoky Hill, jr.; Ryan Seals, Vista PEAK, soph.; Dan Valdez, Aurora Central, sr.; Devunderick Walker, Gateway, jr.; Blake Yount, Smoky Hill, soph.; Girls — Chloe Andrie, Smoky Hill, jr.; Brooke Barlock, Regis Jesuit, jr.; Rileigh Casebolt, Overland, jr.; Rachael Chacko, Smoky Hill, sr.; Hannah Feehan, Regis Jesuit, jr.; Brooke Genovese, Grandview, sr.; Meredith Hoggatt, Regis Jesuit, sr.; Melanie Jenkins, Grandview; Lindsey Koch, Regis Jesuit, soph.; Amy McConnell, Cherokee Trail; Nicole Mundy, Grandview; Savanah Nesvold, Cherokee Trail, fr.; Erin Norton, Grandview, jr.; Brianna Pardner, Overland, sr.; Erin Schilmoeller, Regis Jesuit, sr.; Alicia Taurchini, Eaglecrest, jr.; Sandra Tran, Rangeview, jr.; Sierra Voltura, Vista PEAK, jr.; Brynell Yount, Smoky Hill, soph.

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