AURORA — Sure, the Centaurus High boys cross country team had won a regional title a week earlier.
But not even the Warriors envisioned what they managed to pull off on Saturday at the state meet at the Arapahoe County Fairgrounds.
The Warriors knocked off Class 4A favorites Broomfield and Thompson Valley for their first-ever state title in cross country. And it wasn’t even close.
Three Warriors finished in the top 20, and all five of their scorers placed in the top 50 to run away with the championship with 109 points.
Broomfield was second with 175 points. Cheyenne Mountain was third at 189. Air Academy and Thompson Valley tied for fourth at 199.
Two-time regional champ Chandler Reid led the way for CHS, placing third in a time of 16 minutes, 39.82 seconds on the 3.1-mile course. Moffat County’s Alfredo Lebron won in 16:24.87. And Thompson Valley’s Gus Waneka took second in 16:31.32.
“Our main goal was to get third place, and we thought that was doable,” Reid said. “We thought Thompson Valley and Broomfield had kind of nailed down positions 1 and 2. To actually win and beat those teams is incredible. I don’t know how to describe it.”
The championship marked the sixth team crown overall in CHS history and the first since the wrestling team won its fourth of the 1990s in 1999. And it came under the direction of first-year coach Devin Rourke, a graduate student at the University of Colorado.
Senior captain Jack Marshall, who finished 12th, said the team wouldn’t have been capable of such a feat at the start of the season.
“I didn’t see it coming to be honest,” Marshall said. “This year’s really been crazy because we’ve just added a lot of depth to our program. Most of our progress this year can be attributed to our coaches a lot.”
Reid, who took 14th last year as a sophomore, went out slow and was around 20th at the midway point of Saturday’s race before making his move toward the front.
“I just hung back and kept the lead group in contact,” Reid said. “I never let them get too far. And as soon as I got into that last mile I just started picking people off.”
Key to the Warriors’ finish was the effort put forth by senior Alani Estrella, who finished in 17th in a time of 17:16.52. Senior Logan Goodrich, meanwhile took 34th, and freshman Jake Link was 43rd to round out the CHS scoring.
Tyler Menger took 101st, and Kyle Peterson was 109th.
“Alani had an awesome race,” Rourke said. “He really stepped up big for us. He’s been battling injury his entire life practically, and he really stepped it up big. (Goodrich and Link) ran a huge race, too. It was really a team effort.
“It’s been exciting. We knew we were going to do well but we were pleasantly surprised.”
The CHS girls finished in the top five for the second year in a row with a fifth-place effort.
Junior Erin Twadell was 19th in 20:14.88. Sophomore Kelsey Wood took 48th. And junior Hannah Davinroy was 48th to help lead the way.
“We know we’re better than that, and we know we’re ready for improvement next year,” said Rourke, whose young girls squad had been dealing with sickness this week.
For the Broomfield boys, meanwhile, the runner-up finish was bittersweet. Senior Ben Forsee led the Eagles with an 11th-place finish.
“I felt pressure and I wasn’t even running today,” Broomfield coach Greg Weich said. “So I think the pressure got to us a little bit.”