Vista PEAK junior Grace, shown here in a file photo, won the EMAC girls cross country championship on Oct. 13, 2021, at the Arapahoe County Fairgrounds. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Sentinel Colorado)

AURORA | Vista PEAK’s Grace Dow has taken a big step forward this cross country season and it’s made her the EMAC girls champion.

The Bison’s junior standout finished fifth at last season’s league meet behind four runners from Brighton, but this time she left the Bulldogs — three of whom finished in front of her last season, including champion Claire Engelhardt — in her wake Wednesday.

Dow crossed the finish line at the Arapahoe County Fairgrounds in 19 minutes, 39 seconds, to claim individual honors, while Brighton still easily collected the team crown with a score of 28 points, winning by a comfortable margin over runner-up Rangeview, Aurora’s top finisher in the girls standings.

The Raiders had three top-10 finishers in Chloe Wetzel, Kyra Vuong and Melanie Ternlund, who came in 7th, 8th and 10th, respectively. For Wetzel, it was a one-place improvement from the previous season and Vuong moved up three spots.

Breaking into the top 10 as well was Gateway’s Leona Ferguson, who was 13th a year ago, but finished ninth this time in a time of 22:18.

On the boys side, Rangeview’s Nicholas Mather was unable to defend his EMAC title from last season as he finished as the runner-up behind Northglenn’s Daniel Recio, who made a huge improvement from 2020 when he finished sixth. Mather came across the finish line in 17:41, 40 seconds behind Recio.

Mather’s Raiders got another top-10 finish from Joseph Horra (ninth) to put it just 10 points behind Brighton in the chase for the team championship.

Cooper Anderson finished sixth to place third-place Vista PEAK, while Gateway’s William Equihua improved 13 positions from a year ago to take eighth. The Olys did not have enough finishers to record a team score.

Hinkley and Rangeview will return to the same course for the Class 5A Region 1 meet Oct. 21, while Gateway is bound for the 4A Region 2 meet (along with Aurora Central) on the same day at Monument Valley Park in Colorado Springs and Vista PEAK goes to the 4A Region 3 meet Oct. 22 at Central Park in Denver.

Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports

2021 EMAC CHAMPIONSHIP CROSS COUNTRY MEET

Oct. 13 at Arapahoe County Fairgrounds

Boys team scores: 1. Brighton 43 points; 2. RANGEVIEW 53; 3. VISTA PEAK 77; 4. Prairie View 89; 5. Northglenn 89; 6. HINKLEY 148; GATEWAY no score

Top 10 boys individuals: 1. Daniel Recio (Northglenn), 17 minutes, 1 second; 2. NICHOLAS MATHER (RANGEVIEW), 17:41; 3. Ryan Green (Brighton), 18:23; 4. Caleb Price (Prairie View), 18:26; 5. Austin Hill (Brighton), 18:32; 6. COOPER ANDERSON (VISTA PEAK), 18:35; 7. Kevin Martinez (Prairie View), 18:56; 8. WILLIAM EQUIHUA (GATEWAY), 19:02; 9. JOSEPH HORRA (RANGEVIEW), 19:29; 10. Andrew Sanchez (Brighton), 19:30

Girls team scores: 1. Brighton 28 points; 2. RANGEVIEW 45; 3. VISTA PEAK 83; 4. Northglenn 111; 5. Prairie View 111; 6. HINKLEY 122; GATEWAY no score

Top 10 girls individuals: 1. GRACE DOW (VISTA PEAK), 19 minutes, 39 seconds; 2. Claire Engelhardt (Brighton), 20:16; 3. Danielle Nikolai (Brighton), 20:41; 4. Megan Derby (Brighton), 21:14; 5. Amanda Nikolai (Brighton), 21:34; 6. McKinsey Poulson (Prairie View), 21:38; 7. CHLOE WETZEL (RANGEVIEW), 21:42; 8. KYRA VUONG (RANGEVIEW), 21:46; 9. LEONA FERGUSON (GATEWAY), 22:18; 10. MELANIE TERNLUND (RANGEVIEW), 22:28

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