Regis Jesuit’s Erika Danzer, second from left, Jo Collins, center, and Ashlyn Pallotta, third from left, and Grandview’s Grace Kirkpatrick, right, earned spots on the 2022 Sentinel Colorado All-Aurora Girls Cross Country Team with their performances at the Class 5A state meet. They join a trio of Cherokee Trail runners in the city’s top group. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Sentinel Colorado)

The Cherokee Trail and Regis Jesuit girls cross country teams dueled each other for top honors at the end of the 2022 season, so it’s no surprise that the Cougars and Raiders lead the way on the 2022 Sentinel Colorado All-Aurora Girls Cross Country Team.

The All-Aurora squad — which is determined by performance at the Class 5A state cross country meet at Norris Penrose Events Center — features a trio from both Cherokee Trail (senior Mckenna Mazeski, junior Genevieve Curoe and sophomore Dawn Armstrong) and Regis Jesuit (senior Jo Collins and juniors Ashlyn Pallotta and Erika Danzer) along with individual qualifier Grace Kirkpatrick of Grandview.

While there was no full Aurora City Championship meet at the beginning of the season — only Cherokee Trail and Grandview participated as the meet came together at the last minute — the Cougars and Raiders went head-to-head in each of their final two races as part of the field in the Region 1 meet at the Arapahoe County Fairgrounds followed by the state meet.

Cherokee Trail came out on top at the state meet with a 10-point margin that earned it 16th place and left Regis Jesuit in 17th. The Raiders had been 17 points better in the regional race as they earned runner-up status with the Cougars in fourth.

Mazeski placed seventh as a junior, but making the medal podium proved much more difficult in 2022 with an influx of young elite runners. She ended up leading city finishers again as she came in 21st with a time of 18 minutes, 52.30 seconds.

During the season, she finished in the top five three times and posted her lone victory in the Region 1 race, when she clocked a time of 18:42 to win by 11 seconds over Cherry Creek’s Emily Cohen, who would place 10th at the state meet. Mazeski’s best time of the season was a 17:54.50 at the Liberty Bell Invitational, but it was well short of her personal best cross country time of 17:22.90 set at the Desert Twilight Festival in Arizona in 2021.

For her career, Mazeski finished in the top 35 at the state race in all four seasons (she was 35th as a freshman and 28th as a sophomore) and made the All-Aurora team every time.

Armstrong and Curoe finished 76th and 96th, respectively, for coach Josh Tate’s Cougars.

It was a big rise for Armstrong, who was 135th in the 2021 state race and her time in the 2022 race was a full minute and a half better. Her highest finish of the season was a fifth-place result at the Brighton Mercury Classic on Sept. 17, which came a week after she set her PR with a 19:18.40 at the Liberty Bell Invitational.

Curoe ran at the state meet for the first time and clocked a time of 20:41.70, which was her second-fastest of the season behind her PR of 20:25.00 established at the Pat Amato Classic Oct. 7.

Pallotta had an outstanding season for the Raiders and finished it off with a team-best 51st-place finish (in a time of 19:48.90) which was third-best among Aurora girls in the race. Her season included a handful of top-five individual finishes and she finished third on three occasions, as the Salida Classic, the Bernie Gay Invitational at Centaurus and at the Washington Park Invitational, where she ran her PR of 18:46.

Collins and Danzer both appear on the All-Aurora first team for the second straight seasons with finishes of 68th (20:02.30) and 77th (in 20:13), respectively, as they finished with in 10 seconds of each other. Collins was 39th at state last season and Danzer was 85th.

Collins — who also made the All-Aurora team as a freshman in 2019 with a 30th-place state finish — placed in the top eight of four races on the season with a high of fourth at the Washington Park Invitational, where she also recorded her fastest time of 19 minutes.

Danzer had a pair of top-10 finishes on the season, topped by seventh place at the Salida Cross Country Classic, while her fastest time of the season came at the Rim Rock Classic in Kansas when she finished in 19:29.70.

Without its full lineup in place, coach Brian Manley’s Grandview team missed out on the state meet by one place at regionals and only Kirkpatrick earned the chance to run as Aurora’s lone individual.

Kirkpatrick was the second-fastest city runner behind Mazeski at the Region 1 meet and that scenario repeated itself at the state meet as Kirkpatrick came in 32nd with about a 28-second gap. She finished in 19:20.20, which was her fastest time of the season — even faster than at the traditionally fast Liberty Bell Invitational — and she finished in the top seven of three races, topped by fifth place in the Region 1 race.

After the season was complete, Kirkpatrick kept her momentum going when she ran in the Nike Team Southwest Regional when she won topped 237 other runners in the Large School Race 2 field in Mesa, Arizona, with a personal best time of 18:39.30.

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


First team: Dawn Armstrong, soph., Cherokee Trail; Jo Collins, sr., Regis Jesuit; Genevieve Curoe, jr., Cherokee Trail; Erika Danzer, jr., Regis Jesuit; Grace Kirkpatrick, sr., Grandview; Mckenna Mazeski, sr., Cherokee Trail; Ashlynn Pallotta, jr., Regis Jesuit

Honorable mention: Madison Lippold, soph. (Cherokee Trail); Lucy Coughlon, sr. (Regis Jesuit); Madalynn Rodau, sr. (Cherokee Trail); Evan Harlan, sr. (Regis Jesuit); Soledad Langley, soph. (Cherokee Trail); Anna Chilton, sr. (Cherokee Trail); Emma Nicotra, jr. (Regis Jesuit)

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