COLORADO SPRINGS — After cruising to its second consecutive state title with a perfect score in 2013, it was fitting that the Lyons boys cross country team’s third straight title was the most difficult to capture.
It was far from perfect, but the Lions still did it. On Saturday at the Norris-Penrose Event Center, the Lions scored 22 team points to beat out Mancos’ 29 for the Class 2A team championship.
This year, it wasn’t their top runner that closed the door on the Lions’ team title but their third. Junior Joel Such was the hero of the day.
“It was a rough season and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to get back up near the top,” Such said. “I knew it was going to be tough and I just needed to trust myself that I could be good enough for us to get the team title. It was close, but we did it. I’m just beyond happy.”
After placing third last season, a calf injury at the St. Vrain Invitational in early September prevented Such from regaining his 2013 form. Able to run every day for just the final week of the season, Such did enough to get his team back on top. He placed 22nd with a time of 19 minutes, 0.3 seconds on Saturday.
While the Lions’ team title ended with Such, it started with junior Paul Roberts winning the individual championship in 16:13.1. It was the best time of the day in any classification and a 2A course record.
“I just wanted to come out here and put the best time down as possible,” Roberts said. “My coaches told me to stay relaxed until I reached the top of the hill and then go as hard as I can. I think I did that pretty well and we won the team title, and it was a lot closer this year, so I’m happy with it.”
Senior Matt Dillon rounded out the Lions’ winning team score by placing sixth in 17:34.7.
“It’s a hard course but we love running at state,” Dillon said. “I was really satisfied since this was the last cross country race I’ll run in high school.”
Led by another gritty performance, the Lions’ girls team also won the team title. The Lions scored 20 team points, edging Telluride and Heritage Christian Academy, which each scored 24 points.
Sophomore CeAnn Udovich tore her ACL playing soccer in May of 2013 and was unable to compete during last year’s cross country season. Returning to the track and field team last spring, she endured a stress fracture in her tibia. One day after having the protective boot removed from her broken leg, Udovich re-tore her ACL on the soccer field.
After missing her freshman season and despite her myriad injuries, Udovich elected to forgo corrective knee surgery so she could run with the injury and not miss her sophomore year, too. She capped her first cross country season with a second-place finish and a time of 20:20.0 at the state meet.
“I’ve been running without an ACL because I really didn’t want to miss another season of cross country,” Udovich said. “I’m not sure when I’m going to have the surgery completed but I’m enjoying myself without it right now.”
Lyons junior Sierra Tucker ran 20:36.5 to take fifth and senior Jenna Anderson rounded out the team score with an 18th-place finish in 22:14.6.
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