LYONS — They have built something fast over at Monarch.
It would have been easy to dismiss the Coyotes as legitimate contenders to defend their Class 5A title after graduating three seniors — Ashley Litoff, Claire Green and Kaitlyn Benner.
But as good as those three were, the Monarch nucleus of talent now may be even better when all is said and done. Sophomores Holly Bent and Audrey Lookner finished third and fifth, respectively, and helped the Coyotes to a team championship on Saturday in Lyons at the St. Vrain Invitational.
“I’m so excited and I was a little nervous with those three graduating seniors, but I run with the best girls right now,” said Bent, who finished 53 seconds behind winner Katie Rainsberger of Air Academy and 3 seconds behind West Grand’s Tabor Scholl.
Bent, who has been battling a sickness for the past two weeks, didn’t have any sort of big expectations on herself, more so just to put in a good time and let the chips fall where they may.
“I just wanted to remember what racing felt like again and hopefully break 19 (minutes),” she said. “The whole school is sick. It started out as a really bad cold and now it’s just like a killer cough and I had the urge to cough during the race, but it didn’t effect my breathing too much.
“Usually you go on a good run and you feel better.”
The Mann sisters, Karina and Elissa, finished 11th and 14th overall and freshman Liz Hogan completed the Coyotes pack with a 16th-place finish.
“We always want to have a cautious first mile and not kill our race,” Bent said. “We have a really tight pack and we can all stay right around the same area.”
Boulder freshman Claudia Burgess, an accomplished middle school track runner, finished seventh overall in just her second cross country meet.
Burgess, who finished 11th in her first meet last week, found the Lyons course more to her liking and with all the naivete of freshman, was just happy to cross the line with a good time, 19:14.
“I like running uphill a lot better and this course is really flat, so it was a lot harder, but I really haven’t seen a lot of courses like this,” said Burgess, whose Boulder team finished fourth overall. “I want to make it to state and do well there, but I don’t really have very many goals yet because I don’t really know what I can do yet.”
Moving down to the Class 3A/2A girls race, Peak to Peak’s Alice Oveson, who finished 66th at state last season, turned in one of the best races of her career, finishing seventh in 20:55.
“I’m pretty psyched about a top ten finish here,” said Oveson, whose Pumas teammates finished fifth overall and got strong performances from Dallas Frisbie (13th) and Christina Hamerly (15th). “My coach says I’m on the right track.”
On the boys side, Boulder’s Satchel Caldwell and Sean Riedel each had top-15 finishes to aid the Panthers’ accent to No. 2 in the team chase behind Palmer Ridge.
Caldwell stayed with the lead pack of Paul Roberts (Lyons; the eventual winner in 15:15), Zachary Alhamra (Pine Creek), Eric Hamer (Palmer Ridge) Ben Butler (SkyView Academy) for the opening mile and tailed off in mile two, but steadied his pace enough to finish ninth in 16:23.
“I was trying to get myself to hang with them just mentally,” said Caldwell, who admits the results are secondary to just being out there and competing. “But I guess I just dropped off.”
Monarch’s Isaac Green bided his time on the course over the first few miles and finished with a huge kick that brought the sophomore all the way up to fifth place overall in 16 minutes flat.
“Honestly I didn’t really have a game plan, I was just trying to stick with (teammate) Tyger (Roch, sixth in 16:06) and just try and beat him,” said Green, who helped the Coyotes to a third-place team finish. “I just kicked as hard as I possibly could in the last mile.”
Peak to Peak’s Alexander Mowery finished eighth in the 3A/2A race and helped the Pumas to a runner-up finish in the team race behind Jefferson Academy.
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