Ranch girls turn in stellar effort

Falcons’ Fulton, Ritzel finish in top three

Posted 11/10/09

Highlands Ranch cross country finished with two girls in the top three. ThunderRidge gets two runners in the top 30. Mountain Vista had a big …

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Ranch girls turn in stellar effort

Falcons’ Fulton, Ritzel finish in top three


Highlands Ranch cross country finished with two girls in the top three. ThunderRidge gets two runners in the top 30. Mountain Vista had a big presence in the Class 5A races, and Rock Canyon sends full teams once again to the 4A show.

Teams from Highlands Ranch high schools got to show their end-of-season stuff once again at the 2009 state cross country championships Nov. 7 at Fossil Ridge High School in Fort Collins.

Highlands Ranch (5A)

After being the Class 5A state runner-up last season, Highlands Ranch girls finished in fourth place at the state meet this year with two runners in the top three. Junior Eleanor Fulton, who has been making marks on the national and international stages over the summer, was the state’s second place finisher behind champion Kesley Lakowske of Boulder after placing fifth as a sophomore. Fulton’s time was 18 minutes, 18.52 seconds.

Senior McLane Ritzel, who was 20th overall last year, kicked out in the final meters to take third place with 18:26.02. Sophomore Kristen Kientz, who was sixth as a freshman, finished in 10th place with 19:01.02.

“We’re very happy about [the meet],” Ritzel said. “We knew what we had to do to have a really close team, and we know it was tough with the second taper week, but we knew everyone was competing at the same level. We have some amazing 5A girls out here. It was awesome to compete. I’m so proud of our girls.”

Also running for the Falcons girls this season were freshman Kristi Oslund, who finished in 17th place, senior Alyssa Arnold, junior Emily Hickey and senior Nicole Krook. Ritzel said just the atmosphere of the state race was exciting enough, regardless of the team’s finish.

“Every single inch of the course was covered with people and having that many people around was just incredible,” she said.

In the 5A boys race, Ranch had one runner in contention in junior Tyler Nelson. Nelson finished in 36th place overall with 16:52.14.

Mountain Vista (5A)

After having only Jeff Warren to represent the Golden Eagles over the past three state meets, Mountain Vista made a big splash this season having full teams qualify in both the boys and girls 5A races.

In the girls race, Vista took 10th with freshman Lindsey Smith leading the pack in and landing in 35th place with a time of 19:51.67. Senior Natalie Miller took 46th, while freshmen Brittany Mackay, Brooke Mackay and Karissa Dahlquist came in one after the other at 78, 80 and 81 respectively. Also running for the Eagles girls team this year was freshman Laura Londono and junior Tess Golding.

On the boys side, the Golden Eagles came in 17th place as a team, led by sophomore Stephen Chipman, who finished 32nd overall. He had a time of 16:47.99. Senior Michael Finger came in 58.

Also running for the Vista boys this year were freshmen Eric Steinger, Noel Wagner, Stephen Geisler and seniors Kenny Vaughn and Connor Dullea.

ThunderRidge (5A)

Without any male runners in contention this season, it was up to ThunderRidge’s girls team to represent the school this year. The Grizzlies girls finished in 11th place with junior Dominique Gerard, who has also done well for herself over the summer in national competition, coming in at 20 overall with a time of 19:22.07. This was Gerard’s second time at state and running on the course at Fossil Ridge, so she was very familiar with the land.

“I know the start bottles in so you have to go pretty fast,” Gerard said. “The footing around the back loop and when you go back around isn’t very good. You have to watch that for ankles and stuff.”

Being a year-round thinclad with cross country and track and field events, Gerard feels running with other teams besides the Grizzlies helps her be able to adjust between different technical courses.

“It helps me mentally, not just physically,” she said. “Plus, if I get different coaching styles, I’ll pick up different things.”

Senior Hannah Krumreich, who has dealt with injuries over the past couple seasons, finished in 28th place with 19:43.42. Also running for T-Ridge this year were senior Amanda Lee, sophomores Alex Kohrs, Marrissa Bartosch, Courtnye Rice and freshman Claire Noser. Gerard said what defined this year’s girls team was its desire to win.

“We all want it,” Gerard said. “It helps that we all train together. We all confide in each other with just the littlest things, so I think it makes us stronger.”

Rock Canyon (4A)

As its top runners come and go over the seasons, Rock Canyon cross country has consistently had full teams qualify for state consistently over most of the years the school has been open.

This season, in the Class 4A races, the boys team finished in 15th place, and the girls came in at 21st. The Jaguars boys were led to the finish line by sophomore Connor Johnston, who took 38th overall with a time of 17:15.12. Jake Dysart, a sophomore, followed him in 53rd place. Also running in the meet this season for the Canyon boys were juniors Danny Kappes, Erik Olson, Dan Waltermire, senior Tommy Anderson and sophomore Christian Storch.

In the girls 4A race, freshman Sidney Fleecs was first in for the Jags with a time of 20:56.89 and 62nd place. Freshman Mia Piccolotti, freshman Cassandra Hardy, junior Reanne Roecker, junior Leah Huber, senior Katie McLaughlin and senior Jessica Owsley also ran for Rock Canyon at state this year.

McLaughlin, a captain on the team, has been to state all four of her high school years. Only two other runners on the Jags girls squad as seen state experience. McLaughlin and others had plenty advice to give them.

“Everyone takes the first mile out so much faster than other races,” McLaughlin said. “I try to tell them to keep the minds on they are running their own race. By mile two, people are going to start dying off, and they’ll have a chance to catch back up.”

This year’s girls team also took a different approach to its running. McLaughlin said she and fellow Jags seemed to pack up more this time around than in past years.

“Our top three runners will come in 20 seconds of each other. That really sets us apart,” she said. “We don’t have anybody that just wins it for us, but we have so much depth that we’re all on the same page.”


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