The Lake County High School cross-country team traveled to Lyons last Thursday, Oct. 17, for their regional meet, which was the only opportunity to qualify for the State Championships.
There are two ways to get into the State Meet: being among the top five teams at regionals or finishing as one of the top 15 individuals at regionals. The Panthers used both methods to advance athletes for the final championship.
Travel delays resulted in the Panthers’ late arrival to the meet, giving the Lake County men just 25 minutes to get prepared for the start of their race. Despite the abbreviated warm up, they successfully met their goal of qualifying as a team for State.
Conner Lenhard led the team throughout the race, but Fabian Jimenez caught up in the last half mile and then outsprinted Lenhard into the finish. Jimenez finished seventh overall with a new personal record (PR) of 18 minutes, 32 seconds on the five-kilometer course. Lenhard was ninth in 18:35. Aaron Fierro, who was in 25th place after two miles, ran a terrific final lap to move up to 12th place overall. He cut 30 seconds off his previous PR and finished in 18:52. Matt Cairns also set a new PR of 19:08, a 22-second improvement. He crossed the line in 21st place. Jace Peters ran 19:27 for 24th place, and James Garrison finished 35th in 20:06. Emmanuel Torres dropped 18 seconds off his former best time to reach 20:44 and 47th place. Desmond Sandoval shed another 10 seconds off his big PR at the league championships and ended up 67th in 23:09.
As a team, the Panthers placed third out of 11 schools. They were only four points behind Heritage Christian, which is ranked third among all the 2A teams in the state.
Because they qualified as a team, Lake County’s top six runners will participate at the State Championships in Colorado Springs on Saturday, Oct. 26.
On the ladies’ side, Adele Horning charged out to the front of the race. She held onto fourth place, finishing with a time of 21:22 and punching her ticket to State as an individual.
Despite not feeling very good, Dominika Piech pushed through and placed 25th in 24:42. Morgan Holm turned in a season-best time of 25:29 to finish 32nd. Abby Holm ran under 27 minutes for the first time ever, crossing the line in 26:55 and 45th place. Aurora Marruffo was 55th in 29:53, and Hannah Holm ran a season best time of 31:32 to take 57th.
In the team competition, the Lady Panthers finished in a heart-wrenching sixth place, one position out of team qualification.
The 2A men kick off the State Meet competition at 9 a.m. at Norris Penrose Event Center. Adele will compete against the other 2A women at 10:20 a.m.