Cross country: Set of brothers lead Mead to a win at its host meet

Junior Nolan Hoffman and senior brother Nathan will help lead the charge this fall

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LONGMONT —  Brotherly comradery, with a hint of contention.

This fall, a pair of siblings are expected to lead the charge for Mead cross country’s boys team — a squad that narrowly missed a state berth a season ago, now hoping it can drum up a memorable encore come the postseason in late October.

On a Friday afternoon that gradually warmed up just in time for the weekend at Mead High School, the younger brothers got the better of their elders at the Carbon Valley Two-Mile as the Mavs ran away with the boys title at the six-team event.

Junior Nolan Hoffman won in an unofficial time of 10 minutes, 35 seconds, while his senior brother Nathan finished fifth around 11-flat. Ben Mayer, a sophomore, meanwhile, held off his senior brother Tyler for second as the two crossed within feet of each other around 10:36.

“I will say the boys’ side is really, really competitive and neither brother wants to let the other win,” Mead coach Steve Parsons said. “It’s an awesome dynamic to have.”

He quipped: “I can guarantee you Nolan winning drove his older brother Nathan crazy.”

Well, that’s brothers for you.

But there’s plenty of love too, they said.

Nathan was proud of his younger brother for winning the team’s first race of the season. The senior talked about how the two have been running together since he was in seventh grade. First, Nathan said, he was faster. Then Nolan caught up by high school. And now the two are neck-and-neck as they both have recorded times around 16:40, per MileSplit.

“I used to beat him every race, every time,” older brother grinned. “And then he started getting closer and closer, and then every once in a while he beat me. And I was like, ‘I can’t let that happen’, and the older brother in me was like ‘I can’t let my younger brother beat me.’ And now he is such a great runner that every race, every workout is a grudge match, just battling back and forth. And it gets us both better. A ton better.”

Running consecutive one-mile loops behind the school, the Mead boys packed the front group in the early meters and stayed there as runners ran past the softball and baseball fields and along some cornfields before finally passing through a gate onto the school track for the finish.

Nolan Hoffman trotted to victory. Ben Mayer, meanwhile, had to surge in the final steps to hold onto second as his brother Tyler furiously closed the gap in the final 200 meters.

“That’s the first time I’ve ever beaten him in a race,” Ben said. “There is a lot of pushing each other because I want to be fast like him because he’s normally faster than me.”

Last season, Mead just missed qualifying for the 4A state meet as a team. With former runner Keegan Caldwell as its lone qualifier, it finished fourth at its regional — which is usually a team qualifying spot. But with the pandemic guidelines, the state field was condensed and only the top three from regionals made the cut.

This year, the state returns to the normal, four qualifying teams per regional.

“We’re trying to win regionals and get to state and hopefully place high (there),” junior Nolan said. “We got to redeem ourselves from last year.”

In the girls’ two-mile, 4A defending champ Niwot won the team race despite not racing its top runners. Cayden Justice, a sophomore, led the way with a second-place finish in an estimated 12:19.

“We have a big group” who have the capability to run in varsity, Justice said, as the Cougars are again deep in talent. “We have like over 10 girls who can run in that group, so it’s really hard to break into.”

Liberty Common’s Isabel Allori (11:54) won the girls’ race and Mead’s Frances Hudson (12:32) was third.