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Cross country: Four area boys form pack into 5A podium finish

Finishing fourth-seventh was Henry Murphy of Fairview, Lukas Haug of Boulder, James Thomas of Broomfield and Ryan Montera of Legacy

  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO -October 17, 2020: Zane Bergen, top, of Niwot, wins the 4A boys title after a DQ during the 4A Colorado State Cross Country Championships at the Norris Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs on October 17, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO -October 17, 2020: Kailer Smith, of Centaurus, collapses after finishing the 4A Colorado State Cross Country Championships at the Norris Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs on October 17, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO -October 17, 2020: Cole Thomas, left, of Lyons, finishes the 2A Colorado State Cross Country Championships at the Norris Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs on October 17, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO -October 17, 2020: Quin Gregg, of Lyons, needs help at the finish line during the 2A Colorado State Cross Country Championships at the Norris Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs on October 17, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO -October 17, 2020: Mia Mraz, of Legacy, appears surprise as she crosses the finish line during the 5A Colorado State Cross Country Championships at the Norris Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs on October 17, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO -October 17, 2020: during the 5A Colorado State Cross Country Championships at the Norris Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs on October 17, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer

    COLORADO SPRINGS, CO -October 17, 2020: Sierra Parks, of Broomfield, during the 5A Colorado State Cross Country Championships at the Norris Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs on October 17, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO -October 17, 2020: Maelynn Higgins, of Broomfield, during the 5A Colorado State Cross Country Championships at the Norris Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs on October 17, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer

    COLORADO SPRINGS, CO -October 17, 2020: Allison Beasley, of Peak to Peak, finished 3rd during the 3A Colorado State Cross Country Championships at the Norris Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs on October 17, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO -October 17, 2020: Henry Murphy, of Fairview, during the 5A Colorado State Cross Country Championships at the Norris Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs on October 17, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer

    COLORADO SPRINGS, CO -October 17, 2020: Lucas Haug, left, of Boulder High, and Henry Murphy, right, of Fairview, during the 5A Colorado State Cross Country Championships at the Norris Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs on October 17, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO -October 17, 2020: James Thomas, of Broomfield, during the 5A Colorado State Cross Country Championships at the Norris Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs on October 17, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO -October 17, 2020: Lucas Haug, of Boulder High, during the 5A Colorado State Cross Country Championships at the Norris Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs on October 17, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO -October 17, 2020: Ryan Montera, of Legacy, during the 5A Colorado State Cross Country Championships at the Norris Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs on October 17, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO -October 17, 2020: Hannah Thomas,of Lyons finishes the 2A Colorado State Cross Country Championships at the Norris Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs on October 17, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO -October 17, 2020: Quin Gregg, of Lyons during the 2A Colorado State Cross Country Championships at the Norris Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs on October 17, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer

    COLORADO SPRINGS, CO -October 17, 2020: Hannah Thomas,of Lyons finishes the 2A Colorado State Cross Country Championships at the Norris Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs on October 17, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO -October 17, 2020: Hannah Thomas,of Lyons finishes the 2A Colorado State Cross Country Championships at the Norris Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs on October 17, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO -October 17, 2020: Cole Thomas, left, of Lyons, finishes during the 2A Colorado State Cross Country Championships at the Norris Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs on October 17, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO -October 17, 2020: Arjen Wyjna, of Lyons, during the 2A Colorado State Cross Country Championships at the Norris Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs on October 17, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Cliff Grassmmick/Staff Photographer

    COLORADO SPRINGS, CO -October 17, 2020: Cole Thomas, left, of Lyons, starts during the 2A Colorado State Cross Country Championships at the Norris Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs on October 17, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO -October 17, 2020: Allison Beasley, left, of Peak to Peak, Maya Ross (318), of Jefferson Academy, and Summer Norwell (325) of Holy Family, during the 3A Colorado State Cross Country Championships at the Norris Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs on October 17, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO -October 17, 2020: Mia Prok, of Niwot, finishes second in the girls 4A Colorado State Cross Country Championships at the Norris Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs on October 17, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO -October 17, 2020: Allison Beasley, left, of Peak to Peak, Maya Ross (318), of Jefferson Academy, and Summer Norwell (325) of Holy Family, during the 3A Colorado State Cross Country Championships at the Norris Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs on October 17, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO -October 17, 2020: Alex Baca, of Gunnison, wins the 3A title during the 3A Colorado State Cross Country Championships at the Norris Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs on October 17, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO -October 17, 2020: Allison Beasley, left, of Peak to Peak, Maya Ross (318), of Jefferson Academy, and Summer Norwell (325) of Holy Family, during the 3A Colorado State Cross Country Championships at the Norris Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs on October 17, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer

    COLORADO SPRINGS, CO -October 17, 2020: Zane Bergen, top, of Niwot, wins the 4A boys title after a DQ during the 4A Colorado State Cross Country Championships at the Norris Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs on October 17, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO -October 17, 2020: Jacob Crookston, of Jefferson Academy, finishes 18th during the 3A Colorado State Cross Country Championships at the Norris Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs on October 17, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO -October 17, 2020: Jack Culp, of Holy Family finishes 10th during the 3A Colorado State Cross Country Championships at the Norris Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs on October 17, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO -October 17, 2020: Alex Baca, of Gunnison, wins the 3A title during the 3A Colorado State Cross Country Championships at the Norris Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs on October 17, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO -October 17, 2020: Mia Prok, left, of Niwot, finishes second in the girls 4A Colorado State Cross Country Championships at the Norris Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs on October 17, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO -October 17, 2020: Mia Prok, of Niwot, finishes second in the girls 4A Colorado State Cross Country Championships at the Norris Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs on October 17, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO -October 17, 2020: Zane Bergen, top, of Niwot, wins the 4A boys title after a DQ during the 4A Colorado State Cross Country Championships at the Norris Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs on October 17, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO -October 17, 2020: Taylor James, left, of Niwot, during the 4A Colorado State Cross Country Championships at the Norris Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs on October 17, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO -October 17, 2020: Keegan Caldwell, of Mead, finishes 9th during the 4A Colorado State Cross Country Championships at the Norris Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs on October 17, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO -October 17, 2020: Zane Bergen, top, of Niwot, wins the 4A boys title after a DQ during the 4A Colorado State Cross Country Championships at the Norris Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs on October 17, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO -October 17, 2020: Mia Prok, of Niwot, finishes second in the girls 4A Colorado State Cross Country Championships at the Norris Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs on October 17, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO -October 17, 2020: Zane Bergen, top, of Niwot, wins the 4A boys title after a DQ during the 4A Colorado State Cross Country Championships at the Norris Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs on October 17, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO -October 17, 2020: Zane Bergen, top, of Niwot, wins the 4A boys title after a DQ during the 4A Colorado State Cross Country Championships at the Norris Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs on October 17, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO -October 17, 2020: Mia Prok, of Niwot, finishes second in the girls 4A Colorado State Cross Country Championships at the Norris Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs on October 17, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO -October 17, 2020: Zane Bergen, top, of Niwot, wins the 4A boys title after a DQ during the 4A Colorado State Cross Country Championships at the Norris Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs on October 17, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

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COLORADO SPRINGS — The oddities in athletics amid the coronavirus pandemic ranges from the miniscule to the broader details.

In the state’s high school cross country scene, the norms relied on by runners in years’ past were gone. Anything from the size of an event to the way runners were spaced at the start line were flipped on its head.

Saturday, with the state meet dressed up with COVID-19 regulations, changes, of course, were drastic and included everything from no spectators inside Norris Penrose Event Center to each classification race getting broken into smaller waves.

Through the strange and different, though, four Class 5A boys runners from the BoCoPreps region still found some semblance of familiarity.

Finishing fourth through seventh in the race, Henry Murphy of Fairview, Lukas Haug of Boulder, James Thomas of Broomfield and Ryan Montera of Legacy crossed the finish within less than 17 seconds of each other.

Starting in the first of four waves, the area seniors established a strong pace alongside one another as they worked through the Bear Creek Park course. They swapped positions but never strayed far.

“It was sweet,” Murphy said. “We had a nice pack through the first two miles.”

Rounding into the empty stadium, Murphy (15:41.3) came through first among the four — 31 seconds behind Cherry Creek’s Parker Wolfe, who broke the course record in a 15:10.4 victory.

Haug finished in 15:44, Thomas was at 15.47.4 and Montera 15:57.8 — the latter, capping the sub-16-minute runners in the 5A race.

“It’s taken me four years to figure this race out,” said Murphy, who’d been outside the top 30 in his first three years. “It’s great to finally run a race I’m proud of here.”

Thumbs up across the board. Murphy was up from his 36th place from last year as he cut off more than a minute from that time. Haug was 18 places better than his 23rd-place finish. Thomas, who led the foursome in 18th last season, moved up 12 spots. Montera surged from 29th.

It was the first top-10 podium result for any of them. In fact, it was the first area runner to make the 5A boys podium since 2017 when Monarch’s Charlie Perry won the individual title while Broomfield’s Michael Mooney was seventh and the Coyotes’ Will Dixon took ninth.

“I finally had the strength to keep up with the front guys and play some strategy games with them,” Haug said. “Especially going into the last straight, I just took off and it worked out.”

The four posed side-by-side for pictures at the podium ceremony in front of Norris Penrose.

Murphy, Haug and Montera have known each other for some time. Murphy and Haug said the three went through the Boulder Mountain Warriors middle school club team together. They also knew Thomas well as the Broomfield runner had consistently been a top runner at area races the past few years, often competing with the others for top prizes.

“It’s kind of like fun competition,” Haug said. “Just jockeying with each other and all that.”

In the boys’ race, Fairview took third on the strength of Murphy’s fourth-place result. Behind Thomas, Broomfield took eighth.

Elsewhere for the Knights, Eric Sankey was 14th (16:20.2), Victor Lita 44th (17:18.9), Christian Castellino 51st (17:26.8), Jack Brown 61st (17:37) and Holden Krizek was 82nd (18:04.6). For the Eagles, Dylan Knoles was 45th (17:19.5), Logan Stodden 46th (17:19.8), Byron Nelson 72nd (17:56.4), Cole Liebentritt 81st (18:03.4) and Ian Weich was 87th (18:09.9).

In the 5A girls’ race, Broomfield’s Maelynn Higgins finished 20th (19:01.9) to lead all area runners, pushing the Eagles to a seventh-place finish. Fairview’s Imani Fernandez-Gorbea was next in 26th (19:16.9) as the Knights took eighth as a team. Legacy’s Mia Mraz was 33rd (19:33.7).

Elsewhere for the Eagles, Sierra Parks was 32nd (19:30.9), Paisley Williamson 36th (19:36), Norah Powers 61st (20:29.2), Caroline Daugherty 87th (21:16.7) and Gabriela Olson was 92nd (21:25.2). For the Knights, Maddie Shove was 44th (19:56.2), Josephine Atkinson 54th (20:17.9), Gabriella Castellino 57th (20:21), Devin Murphy 58th (20:22.8) and Allison Kirby was 71st (20:43.4).