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State cross country: Silver Creek’s Gaffney struggles in the heat

COLORADO SPRINGS — On an unusually hot day at the Norris-Penrose Event Center, many of the state’s top distance runners found it difficult to live up to their own expectations.

It was a particularly rough time to have a rough day for a few of the St. Vrain Valley School District’s top cross country runners at the 4A state championships on Saturday.

“It was harder than it should have been,” Silver Creek’s Mikayla Gaffney said. “It was really hot. My legs felt unusually heavy throughout the race and I thought the flats were more difficult than the hills in my opinion.”

With the weather warming for the 4A girls race at 12:30 p.m., Gaffney struggled to finish 46th in 21 minutes, 40.9 seconds. While the Silver Creek sophomore’s finish was a respectable one, it was a step back from her performance as a freshman.

In 2013, Gaffney finished the state course in 20:27.9 and placed 22nd.

“I feel like I might have peaked early this year,” Gaffney said. “I think it could have been my conditioning or the way my body responded to the training, but I’m not sure. But part of my mentality was that no matter how I did today, I still have two more years to do better.”

The Raptors girls finished 18th in the team scoring. Junior Maiya Jazwierska placed 97th with a time of 22:48.7, Sage Madden placed 110th in 23:02.6, sophomore McKinley Coppock placed 122nd in 23:20.8 and senior Brissa Ramirez placed 130th in 23:30.8 to combine with Gaffney and score a 432 team points.

In its first appearance at the state cross country meet, the Mead girls team finished 20th with a team score of 438.

Mavericks sophomore Camilla Lee placed 49th in 21:44.5, freshman Sophia Maeda placed 71st in 22:07.0, sophomore Madison Polson placed 100th in 22:51.9, sophomore Sierra Bell placed 135th in 23:49.8 and junior Makayla McDaniel placed 152nd in 24:18.3.

On what was already a difficult day, disaster struck the St. Vrain contingent in the 4A boys race. After placing 13th as a junior in 2013, top-10 favorite Shane Mathis from Erie High was unable to finish the race.

Entering the race with a nagging left knee injury, Mathis collapsed at the two-mile mark and popped right back up according to head coach Scott Leiding. But with around 800 meters to go, Mathis’ knee gave out and the Tigers senior was brought to the finish area via golf cart. Mathis was in third when he fell the first time and was in 13th when his knee gave out.

“We don’t think he tore anything, which is great since he has a big track season coming up in the spring,” Leiding said. “We had a lot of energy this week and we were really confident in ourselves. You see something like this happen to someone every year. But he’s a very resilient kid.”

The Tigers finished 15th in the team scoring with 374 points. Senior Sean Fitzgerald placed 58th in 18:23.7, senior Andrew Yurko placed 72nd in 18:40.7, junior Taylor Johnson placed 83rd in 18:49.1, senior Kyle Leahy placed 93rd in 18:54.0 and junior Anthony Willert placed 126th in 19:23.8.

In their first trip back to the state meet since 2006, the Longmont boys team finished 17th with 428 points. Sophomore Sean Kilcullen placed 46th in 18:03.0, junior Cade Bickmore placed 56th in 18:21.7, senior Nathaniel Eiffert placed 125th in 19:22.7, senior Jared Wells placed 127th in 19:23.9 and junior Nico Urrego placed 142nd in 19:36.2.

Freshman Brock Dykema was Silver Creek’s highest placer in the boys race, finishing in 89th with a time of 18:52.3.

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