Seven athletes represented Lake County High School at the State Cross-Country Championships in Colorado Springs last Saturday. Almost all of them ran their fastest races ever, resulting in exciting results.
Freshman Lady Panther Adele Horning turned in a noteworthy race. Early in the race, Horning was in 18th place, but she worked her way up and finished eighth, with a new personal best time of 20:37.
Because of her medal-winning performance, Horning now ranks among the best runners Lake County has had in this century. Since the turn of the century, only three Panther athletes have placed in the top 10 at State: Alex Willis was fourth in 2005, Robert Tekansik was sixth in 2012, and now Horning in 2019.
The 2A boys kicked off the state competition at 9 a.m., early enough to enjoy the cool morning temperatures. Fabian Jimenez, a junior, and senior Conner Lenhard took off quickly to get ahead of the crowd. They pushed each other to new personal records of 18 minutes 6 seconds and 18:07 respectively on the five-kilometer course. Jimenez placed 24th and Lenhard was 25th.
Freshman Matt Cairns and senior Aaron Fierro had to pause to throw up during the race, but they still accomplished PR’s. Cairns improved by over 30 seconds to reach 18:33 and 40th place. Fierro was 45th in 18:37.
Freshman Jace Peters and junior James Garrison got caught up in traffic at the start and expended a lot of effort passing competitors throughout the race, especially through the hilly second mile. Peters finished 53rd with a PR of 18:46. Garrison took 85th out of 131 harriers in a time of 19:50, just 5 seconds off his PR.
Sixty-four schools in Colorado’s 2A division have cross country teams. Out of those 64 teams, only 20 qualify for the state meet. Out of those 20, the Panther men placed fifth. Each of the teams that beat LCHS had a stud runner who finished in the top 11. Lake County’s strength is in its pack, which finishes closer together than most teams.
Although this team performance isn’t as impressive as the many state titles Lake County won throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s, it is significantly better than anything in recent history. Back in 2002, Lake County’s boys team placed fifth at State. In 2004, they were fourth. No other LCHS team since then has placed in the top 10, and the Panthers didn’t even qualify as a team from 2008-2016. The team hopes that this performance will mark a new era of quality running from Lake County athletes.
The 2019 state championships were a satisfying end to an excellent season, and the team coaches said they are very excited about what the future holds for this program.