If you go
What: Colorado State Cross Country Championships
When: Saturday, Oct. 31
Where: Norris Penrose Event Center, Colorado Springs
More info: Races start with the 2A girls at 9:20 a.m. and conclude with the 5A boys race, set to begin at 1 p.m.
For a complete list of local qualifiers: go to BoCoPreps.com
LYONS — Paul Roberts is on the verge of accomplishing something truly special, something that hasn’t been done before in Colorado prep history.
The Lyons High School senior has won the past three Class 2A cross country state championships. Should Roberts be the first to cross the finish line at Norris Penrose Event Center this Saturday in Colorado Springs, which he should, he will be the first male runner ever to win four individual Colorado high school state championships.
For Roberts this weekend, a strong finish will make him the most accomplished 2A runner in Colorado’s decorated distance running history.
“It’s the last one so of course you think about that a little,” Roberts said. “I started thinking about it back in middle school. It has become my goal and now we’re down to the final one so hopefully I can have a good race. I’m excited to be able to represent Lyons and have a chance to win four for our program.”
While a photo finish would add an element of excitement to the 2015 title chase, it is unlikely that anyone in 2A will challenge Roberts, who has spent much of the last year competing at the national and international level. As a junior last year, he finished the state meet course more than 49 seconds before the second-place finisher.
During track and field season last spring, Roberts ran a 9:13.55 in the 3,200 at the Stutler Bowl Twilight Invitational, which was the sixth-fastest time ever run by a high school runner on Colorado soil. Over the summer, Roberts placed 59th in the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in China. A month ago he won the Rim Rock Classic in Kansas, the premier cross country meet in the Midwest region.
While the past year of Roberts’ prep career has solidified his record-setting legacy, it was his first title as a freshman in 2012 that made it all possible.
“Lyons is a little community and obviously, in the middle of all this, we’ve been through the flood and that really brought our community together,” Lyons head coach and Paul’s dad Mark Roberts said. “That year of the flood was when the boys went down there and went 1-2-3 to win the team title. Paul does a great job of including people so there are a lot of people who have been invested in him over the past four years and a lot of people rooting for him. Being able to add a state title and make a history is a bonus.”
Three female prep runners have gone 4-for-4 in Roberts’ home state but he would be the first to do it on the boys side.
In the face of his immense individual ability, Paul Roberts has also maintained a team-first mentality. A fourth straight first-place finish from the distance ace would go a long way toward the Lyons boys winning a fourth straight team title.
“I think going for four team titles is more important to me,” Paul Roberts said. “I’m happy that our team has stepped up and we’re a lot better than we thought we’d be before the season. As long as we go down there and everyone has a good race, we should be able to do it.”