Girls cross country: Niwot’s Samrawit Dishon is runner of the year

Healthy season leads to 4A individual title, banner season for Cougars program

Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer
Niwot’s Samrawit Dishon won the Class 4A individual title by four seconds.

NIWOT – Samrawit Dishon’s struggles over the past several seasons have not been issues with talent but have stemmed mostly from injuries.

She missed a bunch of time but this season, Dishon finally uncovered the secret to remaining fit for competition. It paid off big time for her and the Niwot cross country team.

At the state cross country meet, Dishon ran away from the field to win the Class 4A individual title by four seconds with a time of 18 minutes, 11.9 seconds. In doing so, the Niwot senior led the Cougars girls to their second straight team championship.

Dishon is the 2019 girls cross country runner of the year.

“It was a little bit up and down at the beginning but I think it went well,” Dishon said of her senior season. “I was pretty healthy for the season and that’s the most important part of it. I was surrounded by a bunch of people who pushed me every day. The consistency of that and not having to keep taking breaks because of injury was the biggest difference. Being in that mindset and that flow really helped me with racing.”

The Cougars, who also won the 2019 4A track and field championship in the spring, took home this year’s cross country title at Norris Penrose Event Center in dominant fashion. Niwot’s five scoring runners – Dishon, Amelia Philofsky (sixth), Madison Shults (10th), Taylor James (11th) and Joelle McDonald (13th) – all placed in the top 13.

Over on the boys side of things, Dishon’s teammate Cruz Culpepper won the individual title and the Niwot boys claimed the team championship. It was the first time since 1995 that one program won all four possible titles – girls team, girls individual, boys team and boys individual – in one classification at the same state championship meet.

“Obviously, we didn’t expect to do that,” Dishon said. “But it’s a great feeling to accomplish something like that with such an amazing group with amazing people. It’s definitely something I’ll remember for the rest of my lift. The team works really hard and supports each other and that’s how we were able to do that.”

Blessed with a stable of talented runners, Niwot head coach Kelly Christensen said the Cougars could not have accomplished what they did without Dishon leading the way. Now, they’ll turn their focus to seeing what a healthy Dishon can do at the regional and national level.

“For her, this is the first time she’s ever been healthy,” Christensen said. “So the fact that she was able to continue to build fitness was great. She was in a good spot to run really fast and we expect her to continue her climb up the state and national rankings.”