Colorado excels at club cross country nationals

On a cross country course that generated the kind of controversy we haven't seen since--well, since our own state meet, I guess--Colorado-connected entries took home a whopping share of the hardware yesterday in Bend, Oregon.

It started with Durango and University of Colorado product Laura Thweatt winning the women's open race. Only Thweatt didn't just win it, she dominated it in every form imaginable. Thweatt beat Amy Van Alstine to the finish line by 20 seconds. Thweatt's winning time over 6K was 21:43.

Other Colorado-connected* names in the top 50 included Renee Metivier Baillie in 8th at 22:18, Jessica (Pixler) Tebo in 13th, Ellie Keyser in 29th, Kara Lubieniecki in 37th, Melody Fairchild in 42nd, and Shannon Payne in 44th.

The Colorado men didn't have an individual title to call their own, but Brent Vaughn in 4th (31:20), Richard Medina in 6th, and Ian Burrell in 12th was a very nice way to start things off. Behind them, Kenyon Neuman was 17th, Brandon Birdsong 21st, and Tyler Pennel 24th. If there were more in the top 50, I'm just clueless on the Colorado connection.

In the men's masters division, many in the state will recognize the name of Simon Gutierrez in 8th place. Melody Fairchild, I believe, would have qualified for the women's masters race, but opted rather to run in the open race. I recognize the name of Lee Troop, men's master's division winner, as an affiliate of the Boulder Track Club, but I do not know of any other connection he has with Colorado at this time. Perhaps somebody can fill me in here?

Thweatt's and Medina's finishes extend a remarkable 2013 for the Monarch High School cross country program where both are assistant coaches. Could there be more cross country yet in store this year for Monarch? I don't think so, but who knows for sure?

* - for the purposes of this article, we'll consider "Colorado-connected" to mean having run for a Colorado high school or college/university at some point in the athlete's career

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