LONGMONT — As the sister of three older brothers obsessed with distance running, Sydney Richards always has been excited whenever she could put together a moral victory.
Richards and one of those brothers, Braden Richards, will be the top runners on each of Skyline High School’s cross country teams this fall. Sydney Richards always gleefully recalls when she first went out for cross country and, in one of her first races, defeated a number of Braden Richards’ friends.
The moment remains a source of pride for Sydney.
“I started cross country, and I hated it,” Sydney Richards said. “At least until the first race, when I beat all my brothers’ friends. Then I was like, ‘Whoa, this is actually fun.’ I beat all my brothers’ friends and I thought I was pretty cool.”
Distance running remains a family passion for the Richards clan, as Braden and Sydney will continue a family tradition as they lead their respective Falcons squads this fall.
Braden Richards finished 33rd at the Class 4A state meet last year while his younger sister managed to crack the top 100 as a freshman. They hardly were the first runners from their household to shine at state for the Falcons. Trevor Richards was Skyline’s top runner at the 2010 state meet, and the oldest brother, Steiner, also starred for the Falcons.
Their mother, Shyrl Richards, is the head cross country coach at Twin Peaks middle school. Sibling rivalries remain as much a part of the Richards’ motivation as achieving that next personal-best time.
“I want to be faster than my oldest brother. That’s motivation,” Sydney Richards said. “Braden doesn’t like that in eighth grade I was faster than he was in eighth grade. That made him mad. But we do have rivalries. We push each other at every race and Braden’s always cheering me on.”
While Sydney Richards will be the top runner on an otherwise thin Skyline girls team, Braden Richards will lead a boys squad eager for another strong showing at state.
Skyline placed ninth as a team at the 2011 Class 4A state meet, getting a 33rd-place finish from Richards and a 57th-place finish from junior Chris Meduna. Five of the seven varsity runners return from the Falcons’ state lineup. The biggest question mark surrounding the Skyline boys is how they will replace top runner Connor Timms, who placed eighth at state last year.
“We’ve lost our top runner every year consecutively, and I think with the top three we’ve got right now we definitely have a stronger top three than last year,” said Braden Richards, a senior. “We push each other in practice and we do a really good job fighting for that top spot.”
The Skyline boys appear set with Braden Richards, Meduna, and sophomore Sam Berg anchoring the top three slots. The Falcons also return senior David Bocim and junior Travis Stuvil from last year’s state lineup, and head coach Mary Monk indicated the team’s impressive depth will cause a weekly battle for the final slots on the varsity lineup.
“We lost our top runner, but we still have our next three,” Monk said. “We have a lot of talent. We’re young but we have experience. They’ll battle, and everyone wants to run varsity. They’ll push each other and it will be exciting. I think at every meet we’ll have a lot of different looks with those last four spots on the varsity.”
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