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Despite battling an illness, Silver Creek's Mikayla Gaffney finished fifth at the Class 4A Region 4 meet.
Jeremy Papasso / Daily Camera
Despite battling an illness, Silver Creek’s Mikayla Gaffney finished fifth at the Class 4A Region 4 meet.

LYONS — When Kevin Akers took over the Longmont cross country team three years ago the Trojans were not in a good place.

“It was hard, I’m not going to lie,” said Akers, who was used to winning when he cut his coaching teeth alongside Mark Roberts in Lyons. “I was used to winning as a high school athlete and again as a college athlete and was around successful programs.

“And that first year we finished last or next to last in every single meet.”

On Thursday, back in his old stomping grounds in Lyons, Akers’ boys team did something they haven’t done since 2006. The Trojans finished third in the Class 4A Region 4 meet and automatically qualified their team for the state meet next Saturday in Colorado Springs at the Norris-Penrose Event Center.

“We’ve made incredible progress and it is really fun to watch these kids just go out and run for each other and run for their school,” Akers said.

Said senior Jared Wells, who finished 17th on Thursday and has seen the lows and now the highest of highs: “It’s one of the greatest things we have done in a long time.We ran together all summer long and we pushed each other every day and now we are here, and it’s the greatest feeling.”

Leading the pack for Longmont was Sean Kilcullen. The sophomore was more than familiar with the lead group he would be running with, it was just a matter of picking his spots and going when he needed to go and dialing back when the race dictated.

Needing just a top-15 finish to qualify, Kilcullen ran a comfortable time of 17 minutes, 31 seconds to finish sixth.

“I think I was a little excited going into the race, I went out pretty hard and I ended up hitting a wall,” said Kilcullen, who ran with the same pack last week at the league meet. “But I held on for another mile and this whole thing is so surreal, I’m so proud of my team.”

The other top 10 finish for Longmont was a bit of surprise. Junior Cade Bickmore, who was Akers’ fifth runner last week at the league final, turned in “the best performance I’ve ever seen him have,” according to Akers, finishing eighth in 17:36.

“This is the first time all season that I really put everything together,” said Bickmore. “I didn’t have any cramps, I didn’t have any pre-race issues and it just all came together today and it paid off.”

Silver Creek just missed out on sending the entire team to state, finishing sixth overall. The Raptors will send two runners — Brock Dykema (ninth in 17:38) and James Lee (14th in 17:48) — to the state meet.

The Raptors girls will field an entire team for the second straight season by virtue of their third-place team finish behind state powerhouses Mountain View and Thompson Valley.

Sophomore Mikayla Gaffney, who was not running at 100 percent due to an illness, willed her way through the 3.1-mile course to finish fifth in 20:31.

“I was sick this morning and I’ve just been feeling it all day,” said Gaffney, who pointed out that she had a good reason to go ahead and run the race. “I had to do it, I get food afterwards. I did it for the food.”

The Raptors placed all five scoring runners — Gaffney, twin sister Darah, Brissa Ramirez, Taylor Stinson and Maiya Jazwierska — in the top 30 and they have visions of improving on their 17th-place finish last year at state.

For the first time in school history, Mead has qualified a team for the state meet. The Mavericks girls squad, paced by top-15 finishes from Camilla Lee and Sophia Maeda edged out Fort Morgan for the fourth and final automatic spot.

“It feels really good, I’ve got goosebumps,” Mavericks coach Chris Reynolds said. “It wasn’t a longshot, it was an outside shot and our girls just killed it today. They just ran out of their minds.”

On an unfortunate note, Skyline standout Sydney Richards, who has been battling a nasty case of pneumonia for quite some time, gave it a go but was unable to finish and had to be carted off the course.

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At Lyons H.S.


Team scores (top four qualify for state) — Thompson Valley 45, Mountain View 63, Longmont 85, Fort Morgan 97, Berthoud 140, Silver Creek 153, Skyline 201, Greeley Central 204, Windsor 219, Roosevelt 248, Mead 259, Northridge 368.

Individual state qualifiers — 1. Jarrett Thollot, Thompson Valley, 16:50; 2. Peter Franklin, Mountain View 16:50; 3. Julian Von Holton, Mountain View, 16:57; 4. Kaleb Simington, Thompson Valley, 17:02; 5. Luke Spitz, Berthoud, 17:08; 6. Sean Kilcullen, Longmont, 17:31; 7. Logan Simington, Thompson Valley, 17:35; 8. Cade Bickmore, Longmont, 17:36; 9. Brock Dykema, Silver Creek 17:38; 10. Nik Clinton, Thompson Valley, 17:42; 11. Conner Shaver, Fort Morgan, 17:44; 12. Elijah Grewal, Berthoud, 17:47; 13. Cale Englert, Windsor, 17:48; 14. James Lee, Silver Creek, 17:48; 15. Jason Luft, Fort Morgan, 17:48.

Other Longmont finishers — 17. Jared Wells 18:02; 21. Nico Urrego 18:22; 34. Nathaniel Eiffert 18:47; 59. Taylor Chouinard 20:06; 65. Patrick Salazar 20:19; 77. Daniel Delaney 20:50; 82. Josh Walker 21:13

Other Silver Creek finishers — 41. Zack Beckwith 19:25; 44. Bronson Thomas-Garcia 19:28; 51. Joseph Creighton 19:50; 67. Trent Dykema 20:24; 76. Eliott Cassidy 20:46; 80. Kasey Frankowski 21:02; 84. Mitchell Long 21:16.

Skyline finishers — 29. Hayden Falkinburg 18:40; 30. Mark Boden 18:43; 45. Dylan Cooper 19:29; 49. Jensen Richards 19:43; 55. Jonah Chrisman 19:56; 74. Nathan Aguillera 20:37; 79. Kyle McKell 20:54; 97. Nathan Merrill 22:57; 98. Noah Bolitho 23:26.

Mead finishers — 33. Cody Whittern 18:46; 42. Sean Esch 19:26; 62. Aaron Lee 20:15; 69. Thomas Maeda 20:27; 71. Justin McDaniel 20:30; 72. Alex Urbach 20:33; 75. Alex Acker 20:42; 89. Thomas Bauer 21:40; 99. Connor McCawley 23:27.


Team scores (top four qualify for state) — Mountain View 36, Thompso Valley 36, Silver Creek 99, Mead 137, Fort Morgan 146, Windsor 151, Berthoud 175, Greeley Central 212, Roosevelt 258, Skyline 275.

Individual state qualifiers — 1. Lauren Offerman, Mountain View, 18:57; 2. Riley Cooney, Mountain View, 18:58; 3. Kiah Leonard, Berthoud, 19:40; 4. Kendra Larson, Thompson Valley, 20:02; 5. Mikayla Gaffney, Silver Creek, 20:31; 6. Ellie Colpitts, Thompson Valley, 20:41; 7. Kacie Kaufman, Thompson Valley, 20:41; 8. Abby Stewart, Mountain View, 20:45; 9. Helena Ernst, Thompson Valley, 20:47; 10. Emily Leidig, Thompson Valley, 20:47; 11. Baillie Fetzer, Windsor, 20:54; 12. Alison Peters, Mountain View, 20:57; 13. Katie Benner, Mountain View, 21:05; 14. Camilla Lee, Mead, 21:07; 15. Sophia Maeda, Mead, 21:12.

Other Silver Creek finishers — 20. Darah Gaffney 21:40; 22. Brissa Ramirez 21:45; 27. Taylor Stinson 21:54; 29. Maiya Jazwierska 22:03; 31. Sage Madden 22:06; 32. McKinley Coppock 22:09; 45. Haylie Call 23:17; 53. Samantha Koski 23:43.

Other Mead finishers — 25. Madison Polson 21:55; 36. Sierra Bell 22:32; 56. Christina Burrow 23:52; 62. Molly Gehringer 24:09; 67. McKayla McDaniel 24:26; 68. Kayla Mathias 24:35; 79. Emily Morgan 25:16.

Skyline finishers — 19. Avynne Trembly 21:32; 71. Lily Ornelas 24:57; 84. Roxanne Brown 26:00; 90. Olivia Jarvis 30:45; 91. Maddie Wilson 31:46; Sydney Richards DNF.

Longmont finishers — 17. Verena O’Malley 21:22; 40. Lizzie Frothingham 22:53; 58. Kris Appel 24:01; 69. Helena Lauchli 24:45.