LYONS — An exhale.
Then — ah, yes — a long-awaited celebration.
Erie’s boys cross country team continued its meteoric rise under second-year coach Brandon Havard, edging out Mead for the Class 4A Region 4 title at Lyons High School Thursday afternoon.
Havard said he and his assistant coaches did their best to weigh the outcome before the final results were posted up on a nearby wall. A year after missing out on the region title by a single point, and then a final tally Thursday separating the Tigers and Mavericks by just two points — it was all a little too close for comfort.
“It was a stressful time, I’ll say that,” Havard cracked. “We kind of knew. But those last few minutes waiting for those results to be posted were stressful.”
He can thank Mead for that. The darkhorse Mavericks surprised more than a few in attendance.
Mavericks junior Keegan Caldwell led the way, finishing second to Thompson Valley’s Dylan Schubert in 16 minutes, 33 seconds.
Back of that, Erie scored with Luke Fritsche and Alex Walker finishing seventh and eighth. Mead answered when Nathan and Nolan Hoffman crossed in 12th and 14th. Erie’s Timothy Fritsche then finished 19th, Mavericks’ Nick Scohy was 20th, the Tigers’ Lbona Haile and Evan Kraus came in 21st and 25th, and Mead’s Joseph McGregor was 34th.
The Mavericks’ five scoring runners finished in a combined time of 1 hour, 27 minutes and 20 seconds. For the Tigers, that mark was 1:27:51.
“When you see you only lost by two it’s a little heartbreaking,” Mead coach Chris Reynolds said. “But we were slotted at third or fourth and these guys ran out of their minds today. It was the best race in school history today.”
The two boys’ programs now head to the state meet at Norris-Penrose Event Center in Colorado Springs Oct. 26. A top-10 finish is the goal for each.
“The way they ran today, we’re going to set a new goal of top 10,” Reynolds said. “Before it was just get to state, but the way they ran today, top 10.”
Havard will also bring along his girls team, which nabbed fourth, the region’s last qualifying spot. It’ll be the second straight season the Tigers are sending both teams to state with the girls previously missing out since 2013, and the boys since 2015.
“I think the family atmosphere and everybody having each other’s back has really, really gone a long way,” said Havard, who was given a Gatorade bath by his team on the track shortly after awards.
“Each one of those guys will do anything for one another, and so will the coaches. It’s a lot of love and just one big family.”