LITTLETON — After Maelynn Higgins crossed the finish line of the Liberty Bell Invitational at Heritage High School on Saturday morning, teammates, family and coaches flocked to congratulate her. The Broomfield senior didn’t just beat the school record — previously held by former standout Madison Mooney — of 17 minutes, 49 seconds.
She obliterated it.
The record, and Higgins’ personal record by a long shot, now stands at 17:24.40. That mark proved good enough to earn her an eighth-place finish in the sweepstakes division of the high-octane meet that welcomed no shortage of talent.
“One of my big, big goals for the season was to get that school record as it’s my last season,” Higgins said. “That’s why we kind of took last week easy, was to prepare for this meet and I’m so glad we did. I don’t know the exact time but it was like a 45-second PR.”
Even when “taking it easy,” Higgins managed to finish third in a sweltering meet at the Broomfield Commons last Friday. Saturday’s conditions were much more agreeable for the athletes, as the damp temperatures hovered just below 50 degrees.
That certainly didn’t hurt her performance as she altered her usual strategy to shoot for the Broomfield High history books.
“It was to put myself in a good position at the mile mark and just take a risk,” she said. “If it didn’t work out, I can try that again next time, but I knew to get a big PR, I was going to have to do something different than I usually do.”
Now, she’ll have a new mark to chase through the last few weeks of her high school career.
Staying in the spotlight
Much like Higgins, Erie senior Evan Kraus hoped to end his prep career in style. He entered his sweepstakes race already on top with a 15:20.90 season PR, the fastest time in all of Colorado for the 2022 season.
His emergence this year as a state title contender comes on the heels of a junior season plagued with illness and injury. Now healthy, he’s enjoying every minute on the course, and that’s made all the difference in his race results.
On Saturday, he placed fourth with a 14:58.00 finish, a few weeks after dominating the Windsor Wizards Invitational.
“I’m just having a blast the entire time. I went into this season just really trying to have fun. I was running this entire race with a smile on my face,” he said. “This is right about that time last year I really started feeling my anemia. I would literally just blackout in races. I’d blink and like 10 seconds would have gone by and it just didn’t even occur to me. This year, it just feels so much different. I feel alive, just happy to be out racing and to be healthy.”
Kraus earned some unexpected “steeplechase” experience during his race after several other runners fell in front of him, forcing him to leap over them. That, certainly, added to the fun of it all.
Soaring high in division 2
In a meet that welcomed dozens of teams from all over Colorado and a few from Wyoming and Nebraska, Silver Creek stood out. Not only did the Raptors ladies finish in the top five, but both squads nabbed second-place individual finishes in both the boys and girls races.
Sophomore Cloe Ruth had to fight the discomfort that coursed through her entire body to push herself to a top placement. Her elation gave way to tears once she crossed the finish line at 18:32.40. She was grateful for more favorable temperatures than the runners have seen of late.
“The weather definitely helps because my last race was like 100 degrees,” Ruth said. “I tried to keep a positive mindset the whole time. I thought of what it would be like in the end and I was trying to like ignore the pain in the moment.”
Her teammate, junior Simon Murray, capped off his first 5K of the year in style. He adjusted his strategy a bit to keep up with the high level of competition to clock in at 16:32.60.
“I knew I wanted to go out faster than I did last year, more aggressive on the downhill, and then kind of work my way up on the uphill,” Murray said. “I had a pretty bad side stitch the second mile, but it kind of went away after the dip. And by then the first dude was a little ways in front of me, I guess, that last mile that downhill. I tried to just focus on gaining on him and just trying to close well.”
Going for the gold
When Prospect Ridge’s Logan Goodman approached the finish line — far ahead of any of the other competitors in the division three race — he pumped his arms and yelled in jubilation.
The senior, who bumped up his mileage during the summer in preparation for his last year, claimed the gold by 16 seconds and a final time of 15:45.20.
He relished seeing his hard work pay off and took joy in his team’s first-place finish. He beat his own personal record by about a minute.
“I’ve been running on pretty slow courses up to this point so it was good to rip one, finally,” he said. “This team is the strongest team the school has ever seen, for sure. We have so much depth and a lot of guys. We returned six of our top seven. We really can make a pretty big splash this year.”