LYONS — The hills surrounding the campus of Lyons High School always tend to get a little more attention around this time of year.

In fact, throughout the week, the Lions cross country team can often be seen giving the course that makes up the St. Vrain Invitational quite a precise manicure. On Saturday morning, that work — not to mention the extensive training itself — paid big dividends for both the Lions girls and boys teams, as well as several other locals in one of the regular season's premier events.

"We see something we don't want to run over, we take it off the course," Lyons junior Katie Fankhouser said of her team's grooming tasks the past couple of days. "(This week) we did our workouts out here, our easy runs where it was just packing down the course ... packing down long grass and maybe some of the lumps we see, picking rocks, stuff like that. That's our job sometimes."

All the girls can look back positively on those actions in hindsight, including Fankhouser, who finished third overall in the combined Class 2A/3A race and helped Lyons to the girls team title. The boys, battling near the top of Class 2A once again, finished second place as a team to 3A standout Faith Christian.

Held on the same weekend as the Liberty Bell Invitational hosted by Heritage down in Littleton, the St. Vrain Invite continues to draw a good mix of teams for both the 3A/2A race and the 5A/4A combined event. While some prefer the fast times the track-oriented Liberty Bell offers, as far as cross country and climbing races, it doesn't get much better than the Lyons course.


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For the Lions, who are expected to be competing for a state title once again this year, Saturday reiterated early success. Fankhouser came in with a time of 20 minutes, 29 seconds and freshman teammate Quin Gregg was right on her heels at 20:37. Kylee Udovich and Hannah Thomas each finished inside the top 20 individuals as well.

Lucca Fulkerson of Dawson and Helen Cross of Nederland race toward the finish during Saturday’s St. Vrain Invitational. Go to BoCoPreps.com for more
Lucca Fulkerson of Dawson and Helen Cross of Nederland race toward the finish during Saturday's St. Vrain Invitational. Go to BoCoPreps.com for more photos. (Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer)

"I think this was a pretty good reflection of how well we could possibly so on the state course, and it was really cool to see some of our young guns step up a little bit," Fankhouser said. "We had some freshmen and some sophomores stepping up to the plate and putting out some good times. Our team is putting it all out there."

The girls races both saw local athletes thrive outside of those who call it home. Broomfield's Sydney Swanker, a junior who finished 22nd at state last year, surprised herself a bit by winning the 5A/4A race that included a stacked Palmer Ridge. Dawson School's Lucca Fulkerson, a promising sophomore, placed second overall in the 3A/2A race.

Swanker needed a thrust of the upper half of her body to cross the finish line first, edging out Discovery Canyon's Liberty Ricca in identical times of 19:14. It continues a strong trend for Swanker this season.

"I wasn't really feeling it today, but I was just trying to stay with the front pack and it worked out at the end," she said. "Overall, I've not really expected the progress I've had this season. I've just been looking to get top 10 in these races as a goal so far. I wasn't in the lead until the very last second, and I had to lean over the line to get the win ... it felt good."

For Fulkerson, a time of 20:09 was also energizing this early in the season.

"I feel like I'm at a good starting point, for sure," Fulkerson said. "Seeing people in front of you and just chasing them down ... it just helps you keep going. I like this course because it's a little flatter than the state meet course and less hilly than the first race we had."

Boulder's girls finished third overall by having three racers in the top 15 (Stella Vieth, 5th; Izzy Heart, 10th; Bettina Burgess, 15th). Monarch's Anna Wexler paced the Coyotes' fourth place finish.

Outside of Boulder's boys, the 5A/4A race was dominated by Colorado Springs schools with four teams placing in the top five and with the top seven individuals coming from that area. The Panthers placed fourth as a team, using solid finishes from Carson Williams (16:46, good for 13th) and Lucas Haug (17:05, 21st) to front the effort.

Lukas Haug, left, and Carson Williams, right, of Boulder run with Daemon Kuo of Palmer Ridge during Saturday’s St. Vrain Invitational. Go to
Lukas Haug, left, and Carson Williams, right, of Boulder run with Daemon Kuo of Palmer Ridge during Saturday's St. Vrain Invitational. Go to BoCoPreps.com for more photos. (Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer)

Lyons's Isaac Roberts placed third overall in the 3A/2A race, and Simon Stone's 11th place showing helped the Lions keep close to Faith in the team standings. Head coach Mark Roberts said Heritage Christian, which finished third as a team on Saturday but well behind in points, was missing some key components. He expected the Eagles to be one team they will be clawing with for that top pedestal at state.

Next up for many of the local teams competing Saturday is the RE-1J District meet for St. Vrain schools, held at the Sunrise Golf Course in Longmont.

Adam Dunivan: dunivana@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/AdamDunivan24

St. Vrain Cross Country Invitational

At Lyons HS

5A/4A Boys

Team scores — Air Academy 101, Palmer Ridge 124, Cheyenne Mountain 142, Boulder 177, Palmer 180, Smoky Hill 215, Battle Mountain 237, Rampart 294, Monarch 297, Erie 337, Grand Junction Central 338, Golden 364, Denver East 391, Poudre 408, Broomfield 439, Rocky Mountain 453, Liberty 475, Conifer 476, Discovery Canyon 516, Skyline 537, Mead 582, Widefield 587, Roosevelt 588, Fort Morgan 653, Greeley Central 663, Northridge 677, Mountain View 692, Longmont 710, Palisade 842, Mountain Range 907.

Top 10 individuals — 1. Brandon Hoppe, Palmer Ridge, 16:05; 2. Erik La Roux, Cheyenne Mountain, 16:10; 3. Dillon Powell, Air Academy, 16:14; 4. Ryan Outler, Widefield, 16:17; 5. Gus McIntyre, Palmer, 16:17; 6. Ben Conlin, Rampart, 16:20; 7. Logan Bocovich, Palmer Ridge, 16:21; 8. Simon Kelati, Greeley Central, 16:21; 9. Tyman Smart, Grand Junction Central, 16:23; 10. David Cardenas, Grand Junction Central, 16:34; 11. Jamison Cartwright, Erie, 16:34; 12. Will Daley, Denver East, 16:37; 13. Carson Williams, Boulder, 16:46; 14. Dalton Seymour, Smoky Hill, 16:50; 15. Chris Montross, Cheyenne Mountain, 16:51; 16. Hans Larsen, Palmer Ridge, 16:51; 17. Cal Banta, Air Academy, 16:58; 18. Avery Conaghan, Monarch, 17:01; 19. Asher Hoyt, Denver East, 17:03; 20. Nico Piliero, Battle Mountain, 17:04.

5A/4A Girls

Team scores — Palmer Ridge 59, Battle Mountain 87, Boulder 91, Monarch 119, Rocky Mountain 152, Cheyenne Mountain 162, Air Academy 173, Discovery Canyon 192, Broomfield 253, Roosevelt 271, Denver North 272, Denver East 339, Erie 447, Rampart 451, Golden 456, Smoky Hill 477, Palisade 503, Conifer 514, Mountain Range 559, Poudre 566, Palmer 587, Mountain View 648, Mead 659, Liberty 721, Northridge 722, Longmont 738, Grand Junction Central 741, Greeley Central 824, Legend 848, Skyline 875,

Top 10 individuals — 1. Sydney Swanker, Broomfield, 19:14; 2. Liberty Ricca, Discovery Canyon, 19:14; 3. Maren Busath, Palmer Ridge, 19:19; 4. Isabella Prosceno, Palmer Ridge, 19:19; 5. Stella Vieth, Boulder, 19:31; 6. Grace Johnson, Battle Mountain, 19:38; 7. Anna Warmack, Cheyenne Mountain, 19:45; 8. Hope Stark, Cheyenne Mountain, 19:49; 9. Julia Schlepp, Rocky Mountain, 19:51; 10. Izzy Heart, Boulder, 19:57; 11. Anna Wexler, Monarch, 20:01; 12. Elliott Pribramsky, Battle Mountain, 20:01; 13. Katie Wotta, Palmer Ridge, 20:03; 14. Bettina Burgess, Boulder, 20:03; 15. Emily Gentry, Palmer Ridge, 20:03; 16. Emma Reeder, Battle Mountain, 20:05; 17. Camile Long-Shore, Rocky Mountain, 20:05; 18. Brogan Murray, Battle Mountain, 20:06; 19. Madelyn MacLaughlin, Monarch, 20:08; 20. Madi Kenyon, Roosevelt, 20:10.

3A/2A Boys

Team scores — Faith Christian 35, Lyons 47, Heritage Christian 73, Jefferson Academy 78, Estes Park 87, Liberty Common 94, Clear Creek 158, Englewood 165, Platte Valley 175, Valley 198, Frederick 226, Prospect Ridge 226, Thomas MaClaren 268, Eaton 290, Soroco 303, Twin Peaks Charter 305, Dawson School 309, Brush 313, KIPP Denver 317, Denver Academy 361, St. Mary's 374.

Top 20 individuals — 1. Yasin Sado, KIPP Denver, 16:58; 2. Micah Zeller, Custer County, 17:03; 3. Isaac Roberts, Lyons, 17:18; 4. Antonio Blaine, Faith Christian, 17:29; 5. Hudson Majeski, Liberty Common, 17:30; 6. Nathan Zurfluh, Estes Park, 17:32; 7. Cale Schafer, Valley, 17:38; 8. Carter Heekin, Faith Christian, 17:41; 9. Andre Stablein, Front Range Christian, 17:44; 10. Keaton Case, Heritage Christian, 17:47; 11. Simon Stone, Lyons, 17:53; 12. Max Saliman, Shining Mountain, 18:08; 13. Wyatt Orstead, Faith Christian, 18:10; 14. Lucas Russell, Estes Park, 18:15; 15. Gabriel Rueda, Prospect Ridge, 18:18; 16. Evan Mills, Jefferson Academy, 18:19; 17. Jacob Crookston, Jefferson Academy, 18:20; 18. Joshua Judson, Faith Christian, 18:27; 19. Nick Boggess, Lyons, 18:34; 20. Detcho Williams, Heritage Christian, 18:37.

3A/2A Girls

Team scores — Lyons 40, Faith Christian 44, Liberty Common 66, Estes Park 79, Dawson School 86, Soroco 104, Jefferson Academy 131, Nederland 138, Heritage Christian 148, Highland 160, Shining Mountain 191, Clear Creek 207, Eaton 208, Prospect Ridge 214, St. Mary's 279, Englewood 332.

Top 20 individuals — 1. Chloe Veilleux, Soroco, 19:53; 2. Lucca Fulkerson, Dawson School, 20:09; 3. Shannon King, Faith Christian, 20:28; 4. Katie Fankhouser, Lyons, 20:29; 5. Quin Gregg, Lyons, 20:37; 6. Audrey Orstead, Faith Christian, 20:41; 7. Helen Cross, Nederland, 21:03; 8. Annalise Basch, Estes Park, 21:41; 9. Sophia Schuemann, Heritage Christian, 21:44; 10. Cecilia Davies, Clear Creek, 21:48; 11. Josie Doman, Liberty Common, 21:55; 12. Katherine Heekin, Faith Christian, 21:58; 13. Kylee Udovich, Lyons, 22:14; 14. Brooke Barron, Estes Park, 22:27; 15. Sophie Wiener, Dawson School, 22:29; 16. Christine Doman, Liberty Common, 22:33; 17. Charlotte Raymond, Estes Park, 22:39; 18. Hannah Thomas, Lyons, 22:39; 19. Bryanna Kauffman, Liberty Common, 22:46; 20. Megan Zupancic, Liberty Common, 22:50.