LONGMONT - Lyons' CeAnn Udovich has thus far had a prep running career that has been marked by sky-high moments of success and long stretches of time spent injured.
Finally completely healthy for the first time in several years, Udovich is trying to get the most out of each race she enters throughout her final prep season.
The Lions senior finished second in Class 2A as a sophomore and 10th last season while recovering from ACL surgery. On the hilly track at Sunset Golf Course on Wednesday, Udovich convincingly won the RE-1J Invitational, placing first in 20 minutes, 10.97 seconds.
"First of all, this is my favorite race," Udovich said. "This is the race I ran in middle school and I've always loved it in high school. It has a great component of hills and I really like hills. I came into this race wanting to win and it's a big deal for me to do that."
The Lions senior had originally mapped out a plan to trail Niwot's Maggie Smith and Jenna McCaffrey and wait to make a final push late in the race. But Udovich felt so good at the two-mile point, she ended up going for the lead early and pulled away to finish over 11 seconds in front of Smith, who claimed second place with a time of 20:22.15. Mead's Sophia Maeda finished third in 20:27.94 and McCaffrey placed fourth in 20:37.86.
"I feel really great this season," Udovich said. "I knew it was going to be a great race today so I just pushed ahead and went for it."
Udovich's teammate Isaac Roberts, current freshman and younger brother of recently graduated four-time 2A state champion Paul Roberts, won the boys race. Though he trailed a pack of mostly Niwot runners in the early going, Roberts took the lead midway through the race and didn't look back, finishing in 17:07.17 and winning by nearly 26 seconds.
"I tried to go out a little bit slower today because it's a tough course with a lot of hill," Roberts said. "My goal was to break 17 and I was around that. There were a lot of people here to cheer so that made it really fun."
The Niwot Cougars not only placed the runners-up in each race but also won both team titles, and handily. The boys turned in a team score of 32, which was 35 places better than second-place Erie. The girls' score of 30 was 25 places better than Mead.
"Winning this meet was a big deal for us," first-year Cougars head coach Kelly Christensen said. "It's a community race and it's for pride in the district, plus it's fun to run in front of all the middle schoolers and the people who come out to support the runners."
At Sunset Golf Course
Team scores — Niwot 32, Erie 67, Mead 78, Lyons 92, Skyline 95, Silver Creek 160, Frederick 216, Twin Peaks 238, Longmont 256.
Top 10 individuals — 1. Isaac Roberts, Lyons, 17:07.17; 2. Kenny Lang, Niwot, 17:34.70; 3. Ethan Steiner, Niwot, 18:01.41; 4. Hayden DeBuse, Mead, 18:12.20; 5. Jamison Cartwright, Erie, 18:16.27; 6. Oskar Wells, Niwot, 18:22.39; 7. Mark Boden, Skyline, 18:26.16; 8. Benjamin Bi, Niwot, 18:30.92; 9. Luke Simeon, Erie, 18:38.64; 10. Isaac Dukes, Mead, 18:39.64.
Team scores — Niwot 30, Mead 55, Lyons 69, Erie 105, Longmont 111, Silver Creek 165, Frederick 191.
Top 10 individuals — 1. CeAnn Udovich, Lyons, 20:10.97; 2. Maggie Smith, Niwot, 20:22.15; 3. Sophia Maeda, Mead, 20:27.94; 4. Jenna McCaffrey, Niwot, 20:37.86; 5. Emily Condon, Erie, 21:44.66; Claire Jepson, Niwot, 21:53.80; 7. Kaitlynn Salazar, Mead, 21:54.62; 8. Joelle McDonald, Niwot, 21:58.73; Sierra Bell, Mead, 22:06.56; 10. Claire Gillett, Niwot, 22:13.01