COLORADO SPRINGS — Many thought the Jefferson Academy cross country team would be much-improved with a veteran roster, but even they know they have exceeded the expectations of many this season in Class 3A.
“The coaches do so much for us,” Jefferson Academy’s Jacob Crookston said. “Our coaches said they knew we could be good a while ago. When we ran regionals, we were so hyped and I knew we could do something special this year.”
Crookston proved that point at the state cross country meet Saturday when he pulled towards the front pack early and stayed there for the duration of his race. His time of 16 minutes, 51 seconds put him in fifth place overall and ended a special season for the Jaguars on the medal podium.
“It feels amazing,” Crookston said. “I never dreamed that I would be here. It surprises me. This was so hard.”
Crookston’s run was the highlight for the Jaguars on a day where both the boys and girls teams competed at state. Evan Mills ran in under 18 minutes to help Crookston and the boys team finish in the top 10 in the team standings with 271 points. The girls team, ranked sixth at their regional race but who managed to move up two spots to finish fourth and qualify, was led by juniors Jocey Farhar and Emma Wiley.
Peak to Peak’s Allison Beasley finishes sixth
Last year as a sophomore, Allison Beasley of Peak to Peak helped the Pumas win a team state title. Her performance was strong, but it also just missed out on reaching the podium by coming in 11th place.
This year, Beasley returned to the state course, but rather than competing with her teammates, she was the only one on the course this year for the Pumas.
“There’s pros and cons to it,” Beasley said. “This year gave me a totally different perspective. There was no pressure. All I really had to focus on was me.”
Beasley made the most of her run as she finished in sixth place with a time of 19:14.
“Peak to Peak’s run is not over,” Beasley said. “This feels fantastic. I was so close last year but it felt so far away at the same time. I haven’t been the happiest with my races this season, but I felt I really pushed myself and I’m happy with it.”
Other team scores
Holy Family joined Jefferson Academy in sending both its boys and girls team to the state meet in Class 3A. Evelyn Boyd just missed out on a top-10 time in the girls race but finished strong to help the Tigers take sixth place in the team scores. Jack Culp was the top runner on the boys team that finished 11th, and with everyone competing on Saturday eligible to come back next year, the Holy Family boys will look to try and make more noise in Colorado Springs in 2020. Ryan Kuykendall led another young team in Peak to Peak with a top-30 time to pace the Pumas to 20th place in the boys race.
Prospect Ridge Academy had its top runners compete individually in both races as well. Gabriel Rueda was 40th for the boys and Isabella Rueda finished 80th in the girls race.