BOULDER — Without an elite runner, Boulder High cross country coach Mark Muggleton knows much of Colorado sees his boys team as a “no name bunch.”
But with the cross country state championships this weekend at Norris Penrose Event Center in Colorado Springs, Muggleton’s Panthers have a shot to make a name for themselves.
“We’re ranked third in the state right now but it’s going to be tough because Mountain Vista and Fort Collins are really tough,” Muggleton said. “We graduated five seniors last year so we’ve been able to reload. We were ranked ninth to start the year and now we’re up to third so that kind of improvement is really promising.”
At the 5A Region 3 cross country meet on Oct. 22, Boulder’s Eli Fournier placed second, Gage Hornung placed third, Sean Riedel took sixth, Luke Zacharias took seventh and Isaac Fournier took eighth. Boulder may not have a top-tier runner like Monarch’s Isaac Green, who won the 5A Region 3 meet and expects to compete for a state title, but the Panthers’ balance was enough to win the Region 3 team title and could be worthy of a top-three finish at state.
On the girls side, Boulder does have a potential top-three state placer in sophomore Claudia Burgess, who placed third at the state meet as a freshman last season.
“She has looked extremely good at practice down the stretch,” Muggleton said. “We’ve had some injuries and illness on the girls side but they’re young and they’ve come together at the end so it will be exciting to see what they do.”
Fort Collins junior Lauren Gregory, who is going for her third straight championship, is the clear favorite. Even to round out the top three, Burgess will have to compete with several other locals if she hopes to challenge for an individual title. Fairview’s Maya Browning edged Burgess for second place at last year’s state meet by one tenth of a second and finished just behind Burgess at the Region 3 meet.
Monarch’s Ben Hogan also figures to be in the hunt for the boys podium this season. He finished fourth at the Region 3 meet, five seconds behind Green. Likewise, Broomfield’s Jake Mitchem, who placed sixth at last year’s state meet, has a good shot to medal.
The Class 5A cross country state championships will take place this Saturday.