Coach Hugill relishes Coronado’s first-ever regional cross country title
Coronado High School cross-country reached a new milestone Oct. 16 with its first-ever regional championship.
Led by front-running junior Dusty Solis (first with a 16:08), senior Andrew Hugill (third) and sophomore Jesse Matthews (fifth), the upset triumph in the 5-kilometer race at Monument Valley Park qualified the Cougar boys team for the state championship Saturday, Oct. 25 at 1 p.m. at Fossil Ridge High School in Fort Collins.
Rounding out the five scorers for the Cougar varsity at regionals were junior Dylan Witte (24th) and sophomore Ben Vaske (32nd). All had personal- best times, except for Matthews, who was within a few seconds of his. "The first three runners ran what they're capable of," Coach Doug Hugill said. "They didn't fold in the heat of battle, and numbers 4 and 5 did what they needed to do."
Like all high school varsity cross-country teams, Coronado also has two other runners, whose times are not far behind the top five and who occasionally step up to score in cases of injury, sickness or a bad day. These are juniors Chuck Voss and Ryan Logan.
Hugill has another reason to be happy for his team's success this year - as a father. When his son Andrew started at Coronado, "he wasn't even average, he was below average," the coach/dad said. "What he did was to join our 500-mile club that runs during the off-season. He's done it three times now. And that's exactly why he's doing pretty well." Solis and Matthews are also part of that club, Hugill noted.
A top Pikes Peak region runner in his high school days, Hugill still practices with his team.
He coached a previous state cross-country champion - 1995 at Wasson High. Also a physics teacher, he taught there for 15 years.
Hugill has been at Coronado for 10 years. The year before he came, the school had just 16 students (boys and girls) sign up for cross-country. Thirty-seven came out for his first year, and the numbers now approach 100. "Year after year, we try to build it," he said, even though, as he freely admitted, the sport "is hard… It takes discipline to run cross-country." He thanked parents for their support. "The community of parents we have is rich. They volunteer so many hours, and that family atmosphere is the crux of our success."
The top five schools at regionals qualified for state. Among those behind Coronado were Rampart, Palmer and Durango - each of which had previously been above Coronado in the state rankings, according to Hugill. Just the week before, Rampart had bested Coronado at the Metro League championships .
In all, 24 schools will compete at state.
"If we [Coronado as a team] could finish in the top five, I'll be pleased," Hugill said of his team's chances. What makes it tough is that Coronado is not only the smallest high school in the city, but - being in the 5A classification for cross-country - it's up against schools with twice its enrollment, in some cases.
"I can't make predictions," he said. "The kids will do the best they can."
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