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Cross country: Niwot once again dominates Class 4A state championships

Cougars girls sweep individual and team titles, while Bergen repeats

  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - Oct. 30, ...

    Niwot runners, Madison Shults (239), Mia Prok, and Eva Klingbeil, during the Colorado State Cross Country Meet on October 30, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - Oct. 30, ...

    The Niwot girls were the 4A state champions at the Colorado State Cross Country Meet on October 30, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - Oct. 30, ...

    Eva Klingbeil, of Niwot, wins the 4A girls state championship at the Colorado State Cross Country Meet on October 30, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - Oct. 30, ...

    Eva Klingbeil, of Niwot, shows her 4A girls state championship medal at during the Colorado State Cross Country Meet on October 30, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - Oct. 30, ...

    Bella Nelson, left, and Eva Klingbeil after the 4A race at the Colorado State Cross Country Meet on October 30, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

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    Zane Bergen, of Niwot, wins the 4A state championship at the Colorado State Cross Country Meet on October 30, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - Oct. 30, ...

    Zane Bergen, of Niwot, wins the 4A state championship at the the Colorado State Cross Country Meet on October 30, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - Oct. 30, ...

    Zane Bergen, of Niwot, collapses after the Colorado State Cross Country Meet on October 30, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

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    The Niwot boys were second in 4A at the Colorado State Cross Country Meet on October 30, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

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    Tyler Ball, of Lyons High School, wins the 2A Boys state championship during Colorado State Cross Country on October 30, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

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    Evelyn Boyd, of Holy Family, after the Colorado State Cross Country Meet on October 30, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

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    Maya Davis, right, of Holy Family, after the Colorado State Cross Country Meet on October 30, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Zane Bergen, left, and Carlos Kiporir ...

    Daily Camera file photo

    Zane Bergen, left, and Carlos Kiporir Cheruiyot, of Niwot, hug after the Colorado State Cross Country Meet on Oct. 30, 2021.

  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - Oct. 30, ...

    Jackson Shorten, of Mountain View, collapses at the finish line at the Colorado State Cross Country Meet on October 30, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - Oct. 30, ...

    Jackson Shorten, of Mountain View, finishes the Colorado State Cross Country Meet on October 30, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Zane Bergen, of Niwot, wins the ...

    Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer

    Zane Bergen, of Niwot, wins the 4A state championship at the Colorado State Cross Country Meet on Oct. 30, 2021.

  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - Oct. 30, ...

    Jackson Shorten (211) of Mountain View, and Zane Bergen (228) of Niwot, early in the Colorado State Cross Country Meet on October 30, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - Oct. 30, ...

    Eva Klingbeil, of Niwot, wins the 4A girls state championship at the Colorado State Cross Country Meet on October 30, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

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    Jaycee Williams, of Berthoud, during the Colorado State Cross Country Meet on October 30, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - Oct. 30, ...

    Jackson Shorten (211) of Mountain View, and Zane Bergen (228) of Niwot, early in the Colorado State Cross Country Meet on October 30, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - Oct. 30, ...

    Tyler Ball, of Lyons High School, wins the 2A Boys state championship during Colorado State Cross Country on October 30, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Eric Sankey, of Fairview, after the ...

    Eric Sankey, of Fairview, after the Colorado State Cross Country on Oct. 30, 2021.(Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - Oct. 30, ...

    Eric Sankey, of Fairview, after the Colorado State Cross Country on October 30, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - October 30, 2021: Eric Sankey, of...

    COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - October 30, 2021: Eric Sankey, of Fairview, after the 5A race at the Colorado State Cross Country on October 30, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - Oct. 30, ...

    C Girls collapse after finishing the 5A girls race during Colorado State Cross Country on October 30, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - Oct. 30, ...

    Girls collapse after finishing the 5A girls race Girls collapse after finishing the 5A girls race during Colorado State Cross Country on October 30, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - Oct. 30, ...

    Cole Thomas, left, of Lyons, during Colorado State Cross Country on October 30, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Mia Mraz, of Legacy, during Colorado ...

    Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer

    Mia Mraz, of Legacy, during Colorado State Cross Country on Oct. 30, 2021.

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    Gavin Geer (17), of Boulder, during the 5A Colorado State Cross Country on October 30, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - Oct. 30, ...

    Mia Mraz, of Legacy, during Colorado State Cross Country on October 30, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

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COLORADO SPRINGS — Finding a bit of variation inside the Niwot program at the state cross country meet, boys champ Zane Bergen collapsed to the ground as soon as he crossed. Girls winner Eva Klingbeil flashed a pair of peace signs.

Other than that, though, much of what the Cougars did looked awfully familiar on Saturday afternoon.

Headlining another banner day at Norris Penrose Event Center, the Class 4A perennial power sandwiched its pair of individual winners around a fourth straight girls team title.

Bergen — in a much cleaner uniform than 12 months ago when he was bodied to the ground on the race’s final stretch and won by disqualification — claimed his second straight gold while eclipsing his own 4A course record time in 15 minutes, 17.7 seconds.

Klingbeil, after sitting out of the state meet a year ago with injury, won her first in 17:58.9.

“It’s super special,” Niwot coach Kelly Christensen said of his senior winners. “You obviously talk about the possibility of stuff like this happening, but we didn’t discredit how many good runners there are.”

Zipping away with the girls team title, the Cougars placed five inside the top nine and six through the first 11.

Mia Prok, the 4A individual runner-up in 2020, added a third-place finish as Niwot scored 20 team points compared to runner-up Battle Mountain’s 138.

Bella Nelson was fifth for the Cougars, Stella Vieth eighth, Sarah Perkins ninth and Madison Shults 11th.

“They do a good job working together, loving each other,” Christensen said. “They work hard and consistently but they’re always having fun. They treat each other like a family. It’s pretty cool.”

Out front at the turn into the stadium’s final stretch, the sight of Klingbeil all alone was a bit of a head-turner.

Many had expected it to be Air Academy’s defending champ Bethany Michalak, who dropped out during the race and needed to be assisted off the course.

Klingbeil herself was taken aback.

“I really didn’t expect this at all,” she said after beating the field by 24 seconds. “It was definitely a surprise.”

Bergen also had plenty of leeway.

Somewhere around the last mile, the senior who is headed to Stanford expanded the gap on a trio of Cheyenne Mountain runners and beat second-place Erik Le Roux by 13 seconds.

The Red-tailed Hawks countered by landing four in the top seven in their team victory. Carlos Kipkorir Cheruiyot followed in eighth for Niwot (15:57.8), shadowed by Joey Hendershot (15:58.1).

“Going in, we wanted the team title — that’s it,” said Bergen, whose team narrowly missed out on a third straight team gold. “Getting an individual title was a byproduct of trying to score the least amount of points for the team.”

Bergen’s latest win capped off a season in which he had the state’s fastest high school 5K time in 14:42.2, which was also 10th-best in the nation.

Another spot atop the podium, his place in Niwot history is concrete.

“I’m happy that I took home the individual (win), so we can light some fires for some of the younger boys on the team,” Bergen said. “Help them chase aspirations that will hopefully feed into the future generations at Niwot.”

 

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