COLORADO SPRINGS | No Aurora individuals or teams got to climb onto the medal podium at the end of Saturday’s Class 5A boys state cross country meet, but there were some quality performances among locals.
The Norris Penrose Event Center course again proved a challenge on a brisk — but dry — day, with 21 competitors (full seven-runner teams from Cherokee Trail, Grandview and Regis Jesuit) in the mix.
Braeden Focht found the course much more to his liking this season as in 2022, as the Regis Jesuit junior topped city individuals with a 13th-place finish in a time of 16 minutes, 6 seconds. It was a massive jump of 82 places from last season, when he ran more than a minute slower and finished 95th.
City team honors went to Grandview, which made a significant jump of its own in the team standings. Five of the seven runners for coach Brian Manley’s Wolves had at least one state meet under his belt and the most veteran of them all — four-time qualifier Owen Zitek — had the best meet in terms of finish.
Zitek finished 24th as a junior and though he ran a little bit more than a second slower this time, he ended up in the exact same spot. Behind him in 36th came senior Lucas Blevins — back in the meet that he last made in 2021 — while junior Evan Valencia secured 50th after he was 104th a year ago.
The Wolves finished with 213 points, which was six clear of ThunderRidge for fifth after they were 13th last season.
Focht’s performance got Regis Jesuit (306) off to a good start, while seniors David Flaig and Caleb Aex finished 46th and 58th, respectively, for coach Chris Boyle’s Raiders.
Cherokee Trail’s total of 404 points put it 18th among 20 scoring teams in the season following a sixth-place result.
Coach Chris Faust’s team was led by sophomore Dylan Smith, who saw a significantly better performance in his second state trip. He finished 102nd in 2022, but rocketed up to 55th with a time of 16:42. Freshman Tanner Larsen finished 70th in his state debut, while senior Brady Smith’s third straight state meet saw him finish 105th.
Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports
2023 CLASS 5A BOYS STATE CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIP
Oct. 28 at Norris Penrose Event Center
Team scores: 1. Rock Canyon 96 points; 2. Mountain Vista 105; 3. Fairview 118; 4. Valor Christian 123; 5. GRANDVIEW 213; 6. ThunderRidge 219; 7. Erie 234; 8. Fort Collins 253; 9. Castle View 255; 10. Boulder 272; 11. Cherry Creek 302; 12. Fossil Ridge 306; 13. REGIS JESUIT 306; 14. Centaurus 316; 15. Heritage 317; 16. Douglas County 329; 17. Arapahoe 366; 18. CHEROKEE TRAIL 404; 19. Broomfield 454; 20. Rocky Mountain 557
Aurora individuals: 13. Braeden Focht (Regis Jesuit), 16:06.0; 24. Owen Zitek (Grandview), 16:21.1; 36. Lucas Blevins (Grandview), 16:30.0; 46. David Flaig (Regis Jesuit), 16:36.6; 50. Evan Valencia (Grandview), 16:38.1; 55. Dylan Smith (Cherokee Trail), 16:42.0; 58. Caleb Aex (Regis Jesuit), 16:42.8; 61. Josh Tobin (Grandview), 16:47.4; 70. Tanner Larsen (Cherokee Trail), 16:55.5; 75. Danek Colson (Grandview), 16:58.0; 93. Liam Sullivan (Regis Jesuit), 17:08.8; 100. Colton White (Grandview), 17:12.3; 105. Brady Smith (Cherokee Trail), 17:15.8; 112. Gino Palombi (Cherokee Trail), 17:27.2; 114. McKay Larsen (Cherokee Trail), 17:29.0; 115. Andrew Crippen (Cherokee Trail), 17:29.7; 136. Zane Wilson (Regis Jesuit), 18:05.2; 139. Andrew Kittel (Cherokee Trail), 18:09.0; 140. Brennan Hiland (Grandview), 18:12.7; 141. Mason Saum (Regis Jesuit), 18:15.1; 146. Carson Schuler (Regis Jesuit), 18:20.7