Kyle McCabe found himself the beneficiary of some other runners' mishaps on Saturday afternoon, and it led the Holy Family senior to an unexpected early lead after the one-mile mark of the Class 3A boys state cross country championship race at the Norris Penrose Event Center.
Turned out, he used it to his advantage.
Later joined by HFHS freshman Alyssa Wells in the girls 3A race as a top-10 individual finisher, McCabe was able to hold on strong and finish fifth and once again lead the Tigers team as the best finisher.
It was a big climb for McCabe, who finished 25th in last year's race.
"At the horseshoe somebody tripped and made the pack fall back a little bit, and then I found myself in front and at the (one-)mile marker I had ran 5:02 and just thought, man am I running fast," McCabe said after finishing with a time of 16 minutes, 26 seconds.
McCabe was expected to do well in a race that featured a strong contingent from The Classical Academy, Skyview Academy and upstart Peak to Peak. Eventually he got bunched up again with a bunch of harriers but managed to pick off a few in the final mile to move up on the podium.
"Downhill has been one of my strengths all season so I thought I'd be able to catch up to them but it wasn't until we got to the creek that I was able to," McCabe said. "There was another trip that opened up the door for me. You just never know what can happen."
Wells, meanwhile, made quite a fantastic debut as she crossed the finish line in 19:01 and in sixth place. She was 38 seconds faster than any other freshman in the race and set herself up for what could be a long string of top finishes for the Tigers.
Holy Family's girls placed fourth overall, with seniors Taylor Santangelo and Kika Napierkowski placing 22nd and 30th, respectively.
"It was my first race so I wasn't trying to think about it too much," Wells said. "I just went out there and tried to run my fastest."
Bowland leads Fairview to fifth
After placing 11th in 5A last year, the Fairview girls were ready to move back up into a more familiar position as a team with a young crew backing senior Isabella Bowland.
The plan of attack was to race strategically and set up for a solid final one-third of the course, and the Knights were more than successful in doing so as they finished fifth overall with 189 points.
Bowland capped her career by finishing 15th overall (18:54) but the Knights had three underclassmen place in the top 50, as well, meaning great possibilities in the future.
"We were all pretty prepared and just talked a lot about the course (Friday), how to approach the hills and just the layout in general," junior Marlena Preigh said after running 35th (19:36) to finish second among the FHS girls. "Really, we all just know so well the packs within our group that work well and we were able to find each other and work.
"Top five was one of our bigger goals at the beginning of the season and it became clear pretty early on that was something we could do."
Michael Mooney is a busy man
Soccer was always Broomfield senior Michael Mooney's first sport. But after doing both soccer and cross country for the top-level programs at Broomfield, that line has blurred quite a bit.
In fact, it may end up that cross country, and not soccer, is where Mooney's athletic future lies. But whatever he decides to play in college, it's a wonder that Mooney was able to do both at such a high level during the same season while in high school.
"I like them both," Mooney said. "It's nice to do both because you get a little break here and there to do something different. It kind of helps in a lot of ways, too. But, yes, it can be tiring."
On Thursday, Mooney scored a goal in a 3-0 playoff victory for the seventh-seeded Eagles soccer team. On Saturday, Mooney placed seventh in the 5A race with a time of 15:53.5. On Wednesday, he will compete in his third postseason competition in less than a week.
That's a big week for a busy man.
Geldean learns in second state stint
Centaurus' Riley Geldean may not have had the placing to show for her improved effort over last year, but the reality is the sophomore dropped 36 seconds off her state finishing time from 2016.
In placing 10th in Saturday's 4A race, Geldean finished impressively at 18:55 and helped the young Warriors to a ninth place finish as a team.
Other CHS runners that factored near the top were sophomore Katie Hooten and junior Molly Maksin, and all seven CHS representatives on Saturday were underclassmen.
"I decided to do it a little differently this year, rather than attacking the first mile I went after it on the second mile so I could get up to some people and not die as much at the end," Geldean said. "I think I did better, mentally for sure.
"Next year it feels will be really good for us as a team."
Ledden leads big jump for Peak to Peak
Just a season ago, William Ledden was a freshman and the fifth-best runner on a Peak to Peak team that ended the season in 15th place at state.
Now a sophomore, it's clear that Ledden has made big strides in just one year's time, as have the Pumas. On Saturday, Ledden placed 15th overall and paced a senior-less Pumas lineup to a third-place team finish in 3A.
Niwot girls show plenty to look forward to
Authoring several top-10 team finishes over that past five years or so, the Niwot girls team put together another on Saturday when they placed sixth in 4A.
It was an encouraging finish to a strong season. But perhaps even more encouraging was the fact that the Cougars were able to finish sixth overall with only one senior in the lineup.
Top finisher Maggie Smith, a junior who placed 22nd in 19:24.1, will be back for another run next year. Freshman Taylor James, who placed 25th in 19:25.7, also will, as will sophomore Joell McDonald and Samrawit Dishon.
With the bulk of their team coming back for at least one more season, the Cougars can start getting excited for 2018 right about now.
Emma Schaefer already missing cross
It didn't take long after she placed sixth in the 2A girls race for Shining Mountain senior Emma Schaefer to realize that her prep cross country career had come to an end.
Even though her effort led the Lions to a fourth-place team finish, it was a bittersweet moment for the team's top distance runner.
"It's so sad because it's my last state cross country meet," Schaefer said. "But I felt good and it was perfect conditions, so I really enjoyed it."
The good news for Schaefer is that she still has one more track and field season left with the Lions and she's pretty good at that too. She did, after all, win both the 1A 1,600 and 3,200 races at last year's track and field state meet.
Fulkerson puts blinders on for state debut
Like most freshman runners who are talented enough to qualify, Dawson's Lucca Fulkerson didn't know quite what to expect when she arrived at the state meet.
But Fulkerson comes from an athletic family and kept one thing in mind: that all she had to do was put her head down and go. The rest took care of itself on Saturday, and Fulkerson placed fourth in the 2A girls race with a time of 19:41.0
"I was really excited," Fulkerson said. "It was really great. I was really tired, though. I was really nervous and I was just trying to stay ahead. I thought I was in the 20's but when I saw the clock, I got really excited."
Twin Peaks relishes day of firsts
For the first time in the school's short history, Twin Peaks Charter qualified a team for the state meet. This year, it was the boys, and the Timberwolves hope to qualify a girls team in the near future.
On Saturday, the Timberwolves boys placed 15th in the the 2A race.
"We were really excited," Timberwolves head coach Spencer Cone said. "Coming into the regional meet, I thought we had a chance to qualify as a darkhorse. I don't think anyone saw us coming. We got it done and the state meet was a great experience. Our goal is to be back next year and a new tradition."
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