BROOMFIELD — A few small changes can go a long way in high school cross country.
Two local athletes, Legacy junior Keira Wilkinson and Peak to Peak sophomore Jack Cerullo, put that lesson into action on Friday afternoon when Wilkinson won the girls race and Cerullo claimed the boys’ silver during the Legacy Lightning Invitational at the Broomfield Commons.
Wilkinson earned her second victory of the season after dominating the Broomfield Battle two weeks earlier. On Friday, she claimed the gold by a 10-second margin after crossing the finish line at 18 minutes, 57 seconds. Her season personal record at Broomfield’s meet, 18:36.30, shaved three minutes off of her best time from last season.
“The races I’ve run here before haven’t been so strong. I was kind of struggling with nutrition then,” she said. “But as far as this season goes, this is my second win this season, so I was kind of hoping for it and expecting the win.
“I’m eating more overall, and then also just focusing on a good ratio of carbs, fats and proteins. And then as far as training, I’ve been putting more of my effort towards running and not so much other cross-training things.”
Cerullo focused his offseason on ramping up his mileage and saw that added effort pay off in a big way when he moved up 55 spots from last year’s finish. In addition to the big leap — truly a small fish in a big pond as a 3A kid at a 5A meet — he clipped 30 seconds off of his own PR with a new mark to beat of 16:44.
“It feels really awesome. I wasn’t really expecting second place today. I just ran my race and it worked out. Last year, I was 57th place. So it’s a pretty big jump,” he said. “I was very happy so I threw up a double bicep flex as I crossed (the finish line).”
Cerullo helped propel his Pumas to a second-place team finish as Ryan Taylor (14th, 18:18), Brenden Hartley (24th, 18:44), Bennett Ross (25th, 18:46) and Luca Disciullo (26th, 18:49) rounded out the top five scorers. They beat out Holy Family, which place third.
The Lightning finished sixth in their own meet as senior Cian Nagle headlined at fifth place with a time of 17 minutes even. He believes that performance — and dealing admirably with the mid-90-degree conditions — will only help him grow stronger as the season progresses and the temperatures become more agreeable.
“This course it’s tough. There’s no shade, and it’s always hot. So it usually leads to a little bit of slower times, but it makes all the other races after easier,” Nagle said. “It’s definitely great because I’ve yet to qualify for state and the goal is to make it to state and place pretty well.”
On the ladies’ side, Holy Family took the lead for the local kids with a second-place team finish thanks to impeccable pack running. All five of the Tigers’ scorers finished in the top 25: Anabella Descalzo (16th, 21:23), Katherine Ryan (19th, 21:33), Mackenzie McIntosh (20th, 21:40), Emmy Stoll (22nd, 21:48) and Adiah Stoll (25th, 22:11).
The Lightning took fourth as a team with 98 points and Broomfield didn’t lag far behind at fifth with 104 points. Eagle senior Maelynn Higgins headlined her team’s effort with a bronze-worthy mark, which she supplemented with a 19:28 time.
She and the rest of the Eagles had decided to take it easy to better prepare for Liberty Bell next weekend.
“Our whole team was just doing a threshold, so now we still have to go and do our workout,” she explained. “I think we were all just working on kind of managing the racing nerves in a calmer environment by not going all-out. And I think that just helped take the pressure of all of it off. What’s really important is just having fun and using our fitness.”
Boys top-20 finishes:
Jack Cerullo, Peak to Peak, second (16:44)
Cian Nagle, Legacy, fifth (17:00)
Anthony Haberkorn, Holy Family, sixth (17:03)
Parker Nelson, Holy Family, ninth (17:41)
Giorgio Spensieri, Twin Peaks Charter Academy, 12th (18:16)
Ryan Taylor, Peak to Peak, 14th (18:18)
Taven Beuke, Legacy, 17th (18:22)
Nikolas Carrillo, Frederick, 18th (18:26)
Garrett Smith, Holy Family, 19th (18:28)
Girls top-20 finishes:
Keira Wilkinson, Legacy, first (18:57)
Maelynn Higgins, Broomfield, third (19:28)
Cloe Ruth, Silver Creek, fourth (19:44)
Abbey Brende, Peak to Peak, ninth (20:38)
Elle Murray, Silver Creek, 10th (20:44)
Addison Dolan, Legacy, 15th (21:19)
Anabella Descalzo, Holy Family, 16th (21:23)
Paisley Williamson, Broomfield, 18th (21:31)
Katherin Ryan, Holy Family, 19th (21:33)
Mackenzie McIntosh, Holy Family, 20th (21:40)