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Cross country: Lyons’ Roberts set stage for brilliant career

Lyons' Paul Roberts
Greg Lindstrom
Lyons’ Paul Roberts

LYONS — For most freshmen entering their first season of high school athletics the idea of making a varsity team is a long-shot.

The thought of routinely beating opponents up to three years older is even more far-fetched. And the notion of winning a state title is downright unimaginable.

But for distance-running prodigy Paul Roberts, expectations tend to exceed those of your average ninth-grader.

Roberts dominated his competition on the cross country course throughout the season, which culminated in a decisive victory at the Class 2A state championships. His efforts also helped Lyons claim the school’s first state title in the sport and have earned him the title of Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year.

“I kind of knew I could be up there fighting for a top spot at state,” Roberts said of his expectations entering the season. “I had watched my older brother and sisters since I was little and always wanted to win a state title, and it was really awesome that our team could win its first state cross country title.”

Mark Roberts, Paul’s father and head coach at Lyons, knew that his son had an opportunity to be competitive based on times he had previously posted in middle school and in the Bolder Boulder. But it wasn’t until he watched Paul smoke the field at the St. Vrain Invitational and smash older brother Andrew’s course record at the RE-1J Invite at Sunset Golf Course in Longmont that he realized just how far ahead of the curve the freshman was.

“I was a little surprised, but not 100 percent surprised,” the eldest Roberts said. “Especially after early in the season when I saw what he was able to do against some of the top kids in the state. And obviously how the year ended was pretty neat.”

Roberts’s championship-winning time of 16 minutes, 25 seconds not only left every other Class 2A runner in the dust, it nearly bested the entire state. Only Denver East senior and Class 5A state champion Ashe Geberkidane ran the course at Norris Penrose Events Center faster, posting a time of 16:21.7.

While Paul allows that it would be nice to have the fastest time in Colorado, he has yet to set any objectives for the upcoming track season, let alone think about his sophomore cross country campaign. But both he and his father agree that there is one mark he didn’t reach this year that sits squarely in his crosshairs for next season: Brother Andrew’s Lyons school record.

And it’s safe to say following this type of fast start that the Lyons mark isn’t the only other record Paul Roberts will be breaking in the near future.

“I kind of wanted to get his school record this year,” Paul admitted sheepishly. “But I just didn’t quite get it so definitely it’s one of my goals next year. And there’s no one else I’d rather have hold the record right now so it’s alright I didn’t get it.”