In very different races but in very similar ways, Cerake Geberkidane and Aubrey Till raced to the front of the class last weekend. Photos by Ashley Green and Tim Hilt.
For the average high school student, summer means a break from homework, problem sets, tests, and quizzes. It’s a time to relax, be free from all responsibility, and just be plain lazy.
Colorado’s high school harriers, however, are far from average and their summers are neither lazy nor assignment free. They spend their summer months working away on the long, and sometimes tedious, task of racking up summer miles. But now summer is over, school has begun, and the cross country season of 2013 is officially on.
With two weeks of practices and perhaps an early season scrimmage completed, this past week marked the true beginning of the season with some big invitationals and awesome performances. It appears our athletes of the week remembered to do their summer homework!
Cerake Geberkidane has had a blazingly fast start to his cross country season. The senior from Denver East won the Arapahoe Warrior Invitational on Friday in a sweet, early season time of 15:12. He smashed the meet record, ran almost a full minute faster than he did at the meet last year, and won by a margin of 54 seconds. “I was shocked when I crossed the finish line and saw how far ahead I was,” said Geberkidane.
Geberkidane credits his early success to the different approach he took to his summer training. He spent last summer training and competing in USATF track races but this summer Geberkidane focused solely on the miles. “Going into this year, I ran a lot,” he said. “I was putting in sixty miles a week. I really didn’t know how that was going to affect my racing, but at Arapahoe I saw how that training definitely paid off.”
One of the benefits Geberkidane gained from his summer training is a familiarity with running alone, something he might have to get used to if he keeps up at this pace. “I would say I’m now really well disciplined from running ten milers alone. I know how to put my head down and run through pain no matter what.”
And with the goals he has in mind for his senior season, running through pain is something Geberkidane will want to be familiar with. “I am improving early so I’m hoping to break fifteen minutes in the 5K soon,” said Geberkidane. “And I also definitely want to go to Footlocker or Nike nationals or both. And obviously I want to do well at state too.”
With such a strong showing so early in the season, Geberkidane is definitely on track to achieving those dreams.
On the girls’ side, Aubrey Till ran away with an impressive win under some demanding conditions Thursday in the 4A race at the Cheyenne Mountain Stampede. Underneath the strong sun on a very dry and hot Colorado afternoon, Till ran far in front of the rest of the competition and collected her first win of the season.
“Although I didn’t run the fastest time of the day,” said the junior from Canon City, “I was very happy with my performance considering the extreme temperature. The heat made racing much more difficult. I just had to keep myself mentally in the race the whole time.”
For Till, this race means much more than just a great start to a season. In her first high school race as a freshman, Till made a very impressive debut, winning the Pre-State meet at the Arapahoe County Fairgrounds but has since spent the following year and a half struggling with a lower back injury and other health issues. The past few seasons have been rough for Till--she was struggling to run a 5:50 mile last track season.
“I have been through a lot of difficult things this past year and a half,” said Till, “but it has helped me become a stronger runner and better competitor.” Till’s win at the Stampede on Thursday hopefully signals a fast, but more importantly injury-free, cross country season to come. “Being injured has made me appreciate being able to run,” continued Till. “I haven’t had any problems with mental barriers or physical barriers since track season, so I’m really looking forward to a strong, healthy year.”
But with the past behind her and a confidence boosting win on her back, Till is looking forward to what is ahead. “I think that this year is going to be very positive for me,” she said, “I am excited to use my God-given talent and see how well I can perform.”
For their impressive early season performances, Colorado Track XC honors Cerake Geberkidane and Aubrey Till as the athletes of the week. The Colorado High School cross country appears to be off to a great start and no doubt there will be even more great performances in the weeks to come!