Rachel Hampton not only maintained her lead on the second half of the course, but gained on all of the field except Miriam Roberts. Photo by Alan Versaw.
Rachel Hampton has been denied a few state titles in her high school career.
In last year's state cross country meet, Hampton took on Kelley Robinson early only to learn just how strong Robinson really was. Robinson won by a margin of 47 seconds. Adding insult to injury, a shot at the team title also slipped from Telluride's hands when their bid to upset three-time defending state champion Nederland broke apart on the second circuit of the Arapahoe County Fairgrounds course.
After a promising start to the track season last spring, Hampton sustained a foot injury midway through season and never got the opportunity to run at the state meet.
And so it's been for the standout senior from Telluride High School. Until today, that is.
Hampton took an early lead on the 2A girls race, but early leads can be dangerous on this course. More than one person has seen an early lead slip out of their hands as those who paced themselves a little more patiently through the first half of the course went flying by somewhere on the west end of the course.
This wouldn't be one of those times. Nobody but Rachel Hampton had Hampton's number this morning. A few dared to stay close early, but Hampton just kept growing the gap. On this day, Rachel's state title frustration would come to an abrupt halt. Hampton would finish in 19:48, 26 seconds ahead of Miriam Roberts of Lyons, to earn her redemption and a place in Colorado state cross country history.
What was happening behind her, however, was equally interesting and just as important--though in a different sort of way.
The battle for second and third was also part and parcel of the team battle for a state trophy. Hotchkiss's Natalie Anderson had a narrow lead over Miriam Roberts through the bridges section on the of the course, but Roberts had more gas up the last two hills and into the stadium. At the moment, that pass looked as if it might be crucial in the team race. Certainly Roberts had done her part to put Lyons into the hunt.
But Anderson's back was covered. 42 seconds, but only one place, behind Anderson came teammate Jennifer Celis. Then, another minute back in places 10 and 11, came Sophia Schelle and Mae Anderson.
Lyons still hadn't crossed their second, and so the Lions' bid for a stunning upset failed to materialize. In a case of too little, too late, Olivia Raspotnik and Sierra Tucker crossed for Lyons in 14 and 15. And so Lyons settled for their second second-place trophy in the last three state meets.
Hotchkiss earned the cross country state championship trophy that has eluded them for years out of memory.
For Telluride, which brought a team of three to the state meet, their placing matched their count of competitors. The team of Hampton, Anna Fake, and Jessie Hild finished well ahead of Paonia for third.
Vanguard, a pre-race favorite, slipped to ninth when Jessy Sweet's effort went up in flames midway through the course, a bitter and disappointing ending for a successful high school cross country career highlighted by a major contribution to last year's surprising second-place finish.