COLORADO SPRINGS — Mead’s Nolan Hoffman wouldn’t be caught by the shadows of the past or the ones chasing him down the stretch at the state cross country meet Saturday.
“I had a good day,” he smiled.
Hoffman, coming in with Colorado’s 46th-best 5K time from the season, became the biggest surprise of the day when he won the Class 4A race at Norris Penrose Event Center.
Entering the stadium with the sun at his back and 200 meters to go, he looked slightly in front of Battle Mountain’s Porter Middaugh and barely held on through the chute. Hoffman crossed in 15 minutes, 31.40 seconds. Middaugh, at his heels, clocked in at 15:31.70.
“I was looking down at the ground, at his shadow, and was like ‘Don’t get closer, don’t let it get closer,’” Hoffman said. “That was four years of hard work. I finally did it and it feels incredible.”
The Mead senior said he hasn’t committed to a college for running just yet, but this victory should open up a few more options. He had previously finished 44th and 50th at this meet.
“I know it definitely will (help), especially for money,” Hoffman said. “Coaches wanted to talk to me after this meet and see how I did. So that’s really going to help.”
Holy Family girls nab third
A new face at the helm of a program can make a huge difference in the long run, and Holy Family’s girls cross country team proved just as much at the Class 3A state championships.
Led by Anabella Descalzo’s 25th-place and time of 19:59, the Tigers prowled to a team third-place finish with 186 points. Although no team could touch Alamosa (first, 57 points) and The Classical Academy (second, 88 points), their effort was just enough to beat out fourth-place Liberty Common by a tight 11 points.
A year earlier, the Tigers placed seventh.
Descalzo attributed the newfound success to Isaiah Remington, who took over the program this year. With an added level of confidence, and a strong team finish to show for it, she’s hoping her ladies can make the podium when they converge on the NPEC in 2023.
“This year was all about team for me so the whole race, I was just really focused on how can I help my team? And how are they doing?” Descalzo said. “At the end, I was just thinking about them, mostly, watching them come in. … To get third is really crazy because we just are really close as a team.”
Boulder’s Vaughn places 12th among the 5A ladies
Boulder junior Kiki Vaughn may be new to the high school running scene, but that doesn’t mean she can’t make a statement. In her first high school state meet, she barely missed the podium with a 12th-place mark and 18:38 time but took pride in the accomplishment all the same.
“I didn’t have any expectations coming into this because this is my first time running at the state course,” she said. “I just tried to push it the last half mile and use my kicks.”
Fairview boys place third as a team
Much like the Holy Family girls, Fairview’s boys achieved a similar team feat with third place in the 5A race when they edged Mountain Vista by three points with a team score of 184. Gordon Nilsen (22nd, 16:17), Jake Zajac (26th, 16:20), Holden Krizek (33rd, 16:26) and Jack Brown (36th, 16:27) exemplified the spirit of pack-running after finishing within 10 seconds of one another.
Lyons take seventh and 16th in 2A
For the first time in 30 years, the Lyons cross country program came into the state meet without longtime frontman Mark Roberts.
Before their afternoon races, the Lyons kids found their old coach across the way leading the 3A Resurrection Christian program.
“We gave him hug. He wished us good luck and we talked about some old stuff,” senior Cole Thomas said. “It was fun.”
Thomas and junior Sage Wynja narrowly missed the podium in the boys 2A race, finishing 11th (16:53) and 12th (17 minutes), respectively. The Lions’ top girl was Leah Shelton, who finished 25th in 21:52.
The boys team took seventh, the girls 16th.