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  • Lyons' Joel Such runs to a second place finish during...

    David R. Jennings / Staff Photographer

    Lyons' Joel Such runs to a second place finish during the 2A state cross country championships at the Norris Penrose Events Center Saturday.

  • Paul Roberts of Lyons cheers on teammates after winning the...

    David R. Jennings / Staff Photographer

    Paul Roberts of Lyons cheers on teammates after winning the 2A state title on Saturday. The Lyons boys team won their fourth consecutive state title.

  • Paul Roberts,right, of Lyons gets a kiss from his father...

    David R. Jennings / Staff Photographer

    Paul Roberts,right, of Lyons gets a kiss from his father and coach, Mark Roberts after Paul won his fourth consecutive Class 2A state championship at the Norris Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs Saturday. Roberts became the first male runner in Colorado history to win four titles. More photos:



COLORADO SPRINGS — Catching his breath in the recovery area at the cross country state championships just moments after he had completed his historic prep career, Paul Roberts found himself jumping up and down with excitement.

Only, Roberts wasn’t celebrating his own accomplishment.

The Lyons High School senior had just become the first male runner in Colorado prep history to win four individual state championships, and he was screaming back down the final stretch as teammate Joel Such barreled toward the finish line in second place. Roberts wanted one last team title, as well.

On Saturday at Norris Penrose Event Center, Roberts ended his Lyons cross country career a winner in every sense.

“I’m really excited that our team got the win and the individual title is just the cherry on top,” Roberts said. “This is my last state cross country meet and that’s kind of weird to think about. When I saw Joel coming in second, I was so excited that was the only thing I could do. I’ve been trying to win four times for a while but, honestly, I’ve been blessed to be on a great team and to do my part.”

For his four years, Roberts’ part in the Lions’ championship model has been to dominate the Class 2A classification.

Inspired by his older brother Andrew Roberts, who won the 3A title in 2007, Paul Roberts set himself up for unprecedented greatness by winning the 2A championship as a freshman in 2012. Since then, Paul Roberts, who is coached by his father Mark Roberts, has staked his claim to the fifth-fastest 3,200-meter time ever run by a high school athlete on Colorado soil and placed 59th at the IAFF World Cross Country Championships in China.

On Saturday, he completed the revamped state course in 15 minutes, 33.7 seconds for his fourth and final state title. With Such (16:33.2) taking second and sophomore Landon Milbrath (17:52.7) placing 18th, the Lions boys won their fourth consecutive team title, beating Ouray by 17 points.

“Joel was the key,” Lions coach Mark Roberts said. “There are a lot of talented runners and we thought he could finish anywhere from second to sixth or seventh. When I saw him coming in second and saw Landon driving on people, I knew we were going to be in good shape.”

Before Paul Roberts, only Rocky Ford’s Andy Montanez (1974-76), Doherty’s Adam Goucher (1991-93), D’Evelyn’s John McGuire (2002-04) and Telluride’s Ty Williams (2009-11) had won three individual boys championships. On the girls side, Wheat Ridge’s Rebekah McDowell (5A, 1992-95), Estes Park’s Emily Plummer (3A, 1994-97) and Smoky Hill’s Megan Kaltenbach (5A, 1999-2002) are the only runners to win four titles in their prep careers.

Roberts has already decided on his next endeavor, verbally committing to CSU-Pueblo on Monday. There, he will join older sister Miriam Roberts, who won the girls 2A cross country title in 2013. Paul Roberts will also compete in track and field in the spring.

But before he moves on to bigger and better things, Roberts can sit back and rest a while as the most decorated runner in Colorado high school state meet competition ever.

Brad Cochi: or

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