Coronado wins first-ever state cross-country title
Roth’s 2nd leads Cougar boys over 29 schools in race at Bear Creek Park; girls nearly win too
Led by junior Bailey Roth's near-individual victory, Coronado High's distance runners blazed to the school's first-ever state championship in boys cross-country Oct. 27 at Bear Creek Regional Park.
“It's sweet,” said coach Doug Hugill shortly afterward. Also the school's physics teacher, he had come over to Coronado in 1999 after coaching Wasson High to a state title in 1995. “But this is the first one for the Westside,” he exulted.
The triumph over 29 schools capped a year in which Coronado dominated area cross-country in the 4-A category, including easy wins in the Metro League finals and the state-qualifying Region 4 event nine days before state.
Colorado has four high school categories in cross-country (2-A through 5-A), based on school enrollment. 4-A is the second largest.
Coronado's teams have come close at state in recent years, including third-place finishes in 2008 and 2010. But there has always seemed to be one or more racers sick, injured or who had a bad day. Asked what the key was this year, Hugill responded, “Nobody folded. Everybody ran a good race.”
Roth and eventual winner Eli Hemming of Ponderosa High had pulled away from the 224-runner field with barely a quarter-mile to go when Roth slipped on a sharp uphill turn after a creek crossing and lost his momentum. He wound up running a 16:40.7 on the 5-kilometer (3.1-mile) course to Hemming's 16:30.4. “It was disappointing,” Roth said minutes after the race, but perked up considerably when the team rankings were announced about a half-hour later.
Also scoring for the Cougars were senior captain Dan Egger in 11th, senior Andres Petrucci in 18th; sophomore Adam Egger in 19th; and senior Schuyler Vandersluis in 22nd.
Cross-country scoring is based on the placings by the first five finishers for each school.
Overshadowed by the boys' showing Oct. 27 was that of the Cougar girls, who nabbed a best-ever second-place trophy in their race, only 29 points behind the Classical Academy.
Sophomore Gabby Roth in 16th place, senior Sylvia Hayes in 18th and junior Lauren Akers in 25th paced the squad, with other scoring from senior Shannon Young in 41st and sophomore Olivia Babeau in 46th.
The Cougar boys were aided this year by the coincidental transfers of Roth (from Georgia, where he won a state title last year) and Petrucci. Coronado was already deep, but statistics show that without at least one of them the team would have missed out on the title by a handful of points.
Hugill noted that his sixth and seventh runners - senior John Booten in 30th and junior Stefan Rodriguez in 43rd - finished before even the fifth runner for any other school. (Only seven in all could compete for each team.)
At a school assembly honoring the cross-country program three days later, Principal Dave Engstrom alluded to Coronado's situation in which 31 students lost their homes in last summer's Waldo Canyon Fire. “We made headlines [at the state meet] not because of tragedy but because of doing things right,” he said, to applause.
The race was the first time for the state meet on the one-year-old “Cheyenne Stampede” course, which uses Bear Creek Regional Park's trails through hills, woods and meadows between 8th and 21st streets and finishes inside Penrose Stadium. Eight races in all were run during the day (2-A through 5-A for boys and girls), and thousands of spectators swarmed about the course, looking for good vantage points to cheer on their favorite teams and/or runners.
The course was designed by Cheyenne Mountain High School, led by its coach, Stan Lambros, in cooperation with the non-profit Norris-Penrose Event Center. The center oversees the stadium as well as the Indoor Arena, which was used, as planned, by the teams to avoid too much weather exposure (temperatures were in the 40s Oct. 27) as they waited for their races.
Cheyenne had won the 2010 4-A boys state championship, but was runner-up to Coronado this time.
Westside Pioneer article