COLORADO SPRINGS — The family that runs together stays together.
The Mitchem family— whether it was father Jeff running sprints in Rangely or mother Randi, a harrier in her day at Pomona — has been a fixture in the Colorado running scene for quite some time and the latest crop certainly left their mark on Saturday at the Norris-Penrose Event Center in the Class 5A state cross country meet.
“It’s really great because they are really supportive and they know how to help me if I’ve had a bad race,” Broomfield junior Jake Mitchem said. “Or how to be there for me when I have a good race.”
Saturday was a good day for Jake in particular, who picked off several runners after reaching the top of the course’s notorious hill en route to his sixth-place finish in a time of 17 minutes, 1.6 seconds.
“To have Jake go from somewhere in the 30s in 4A to sixth in 5A is a really big deal,” said Broomfield coach Greg Weich, whose team finished ninth overall.
For Jake Mitchem, it wasn’t as though he attacked the state course any differently than he did last year, but more of a season-long stretch in which he avoided injury and didn’t have to worry about a setback limiting his build-up.
On a brutally warm day for late October, Jake Mitchem was aware of what the temperature would do to not only the field but everyone’s times.
“I knew I was going to go out slow just because of the weather and that this course is hard, but I was kind of surprised at how slow I went out,” said Jake, whose older brother Joe ran at the University of Colorado for two seasons. “I just to the top of the hill (in 20th place) and started rolling; and people started coming back to me.”
Jake Mitchem finished 42 seconds behind race winner Marcelo Laguera of Pomona (16:19.4).
Daniel Alvarez-Chao just missed the podium with a 13th-place finish in 17:21.2. Jared Durney (60th in 18:18), Josh Schoep (94th in 18:44.1) and Kian Hartley (118th in 18:57.8) rounded out the Eagles’ scoring runners.
On the girls side, there was another Mitchem on the awards stand … kind of.
Freshman Emily Mitchem went out quickly and had just enough energy in the tank to walk like a zombie across the finish line in 10th place. Her twin sister Katelyn and senior Regan Vandepol were also a top 20 finishers.
“I was just running as hard as I could and just trying to keep my position,” said Emily, who was in the medical tent for over a half hour after the race but still deemed the race fun. “We tried to get out as fast and use the hills to our advantage.”
In their first year in 5A and with a five of their six top runners being freshmen and another a sophomore, Weich is excited about what the future holds for his girls program.
“I think the future is really bright,” Weich said. “But we are going to set our goals realistically for next year and then we will keep building.”
As expected, Fort Collins freshman Lauren Gregory defended her individual title by 30 seconds over Fairview’s Maya Browning. Fort Collins also won the team title by just five points over Monarch.
Follow Jon on Twitter: twitter.com/JonEYunt