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Cross country: Monarch girls to compete in Nike Cross Nationals

Monarch cross country
Courtesy photo
The Monarch girls cross country team will compete in the 2013 Nike Cross Nationals on Saturday, Dec. 7 in Portland, Ore.

The Monarch girls cross country team has mastered the art of conquering the state. Now the Coyotes will have the opportunity to see where they stack up on a national level.

The three-time defending Class 5A champions will compete in the 2013 Nike Cross Nationals on Saturday in Portland, Ore.

Monarch placed third in the Southwest Regional in Mesa, Ariz., on Nov. 23 and earned an at-large bid to the NXN meet. The Coyotes also participated in the meet in 2010 and finished 15th, but coach Kent Rieder believes his squad has the capability of finishing much more prominently this season.

“We’ve been ranked in the top 10 (nationally) for most of the year as opposed to three years ago, when we were more of a top-20-type team,” Rieder said. “With three straight state championships, experience is the key for us. And knowing how to race smart.

Seniors Kaitlyn Benner and Claire Green were on Monarch’s previous squad to reach the national meet, but each has since blossomed as a runner. Benner was Monarch’s top finisher at the Southwest Regional, placing 17th (ninth for the purposes of team scores) in 18 minutes, 29.56 seconds.

The Coyotes also will bring along fellow senior Ashley Litoff — she was the Coyotes top finisher this season at state — juniors Elissa Mann and Karina Mann and freshmen Holly Bent and Audrey Lookner.

All have raced in at least one of Monarch’s title-winning state meets.

“I think that’s probably our biggest advantage,” Rieder said.

In-state cross country fans also can root for Niwot’s Elise Cranny, who won the Southwest Regional meet and is among the favorites to emerge as the individual winner in Portland.

Cranny’s time of 17:03.87 in Arizona was nearly 33 seconds better than second-place Lucy Biles of Herriman (Utah).


Coyotes fans can watch the race online (11:05 MST, Saturday) at … Additional information is available at

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