Cross country: Lyons’ Roberts wins St. Vrain in record-setting style

Cliff Grassmick / Daily Camera
Paul Roberts of Lyons sets the pace at the outset of his record-breaking win at the St. Vrain Invitational.

LYONS — Ever the modest victor, Lyons’ Paul Roberts was quick to point out the immense amount of talent in the field of Class 4A and 5A boys competing at this year’s Lyons Cross Country Invite. With all those skilled runners, he claimed his goal was to simply come out, give it his best effort and let the chips fall where they may.

But Roberts did eventually let slip that he was aware of his older brother Andrew’s school-best time of 15 minutes, 44 seconds, a mark that he indicated he wished to top.

After Saturday, someone will have to get ahold of the LHS registrar. The record book needs some dusting off.

Though the junior was certainly challenged, no other competitor was able to keep up with the Lions standout for the entirety of the 5,000-meter race, as Roberts passed Pine Creek’s Zachary Alhamra down the stretch to take the title by 2 seconds. His winning time of 15:15 not only blew his elder sibling’s record away, it also tied the invite’s all-time record, set last year by Denver East’s Cerake Geberkidane.

Unlike other races where Roberts has pulled away early and created massive gaps, this one was close throughout. Roberts sat in the middle of a pack of six runners after 1,500 meters and was second out of the front four the second time the runners made their way through the stadium. It wasn’t until late that he was finally able overcome the last of his opponents.

“I was with Alhamara and Eric Hamer (Palmer Ridge) for a while, and then with about 1K to go Alhamara separated and I stayed on his shoulder,” Roberts said. “With about 600 (meters) to go I tried to make a move and he was right on me but I opened up a little gap. I knew he was coming to me all the way to the finish so I just finished as hard as I could.”

Though Lyons did not field enough runners to compete in the team portion of the 4A/5A event, Joel Such did turn in a top-15 performance with a time of 16:28, and Matt Dillon came in 75th at 18:01, meaning that combined with a fourth Lion’s time the club would have placed third in the Class 2A/3A standings.

Meanwhile, the Lyons girls also had quite an afternoon, taking top team honors in the Class 2A/3A race after crossing the line 3-4-5. Senior Jenna Anderson led the trio and was followed by sophomore teammate Ceann Udovich and junior Sierra Tucker, respectively. Senior Faith Meyers rounded out the scoring foursome in 35th place, as Lyons’ 47 team points far bettered Telluride’s second-place total of 80.

“I felt good, strong,” said Anderson, whose time of 20:25 was 65 seconds back of winner Lily Tomasula-Martin from Estes Park.

“Our (team) aim was to be up toward the front of the race. We felt prepared for it. Our goal was to place as high as we could, and first was definitely one of our goals.”

Udovich ultimately clocked in with a time of 20:37, while Tucker was right on her tail at 20:39. Meyers later crossed at 22:26.

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