Castle View teams dominate Elizabeth Invitational

The winning Castle View teams are all smiles after the Elizabeth Invitational (photo courtesy of Della Moore)


Little did anyone know what the cross country team from Castle View had in store for the September 9th Elizabeth Invitational held at Casey Jones Park. That’s precisely the way Castle view coach Kuhn would like it to stay, but that may be slipping out of his control.  Only three years old as a program, Castle View has seniors for the first time and so far, according to Coach Kuhn, has successfully “flown under the radar.” Their performance on Tuesday, though, may suggest that those days are coming to a close.


Arvada West Senior Grant Aschwege led the charge through the first half mile of the boys’ varsity race.  Coming out of the trees a quarter mile later, however, a new lead pack had developed with Castle View’s Aaron Friedland and Chris Ganem and Arvada West’s Drew Ryther up front, followed closely by the remaining Castle View runners.  After the first mile, Friedland and Ganem began to stretch out their lead on Ryther. By mile two Friedland had 15 seconds on Ganem who, in turn, had 30 seconds on Ryther. The chase pack made several attempts to close on Ryther, the only runner able to disrupt a perfect score as Castle View took 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th and 6th for a total of 18 team points.  Arvada West took second with 52 points to include  with Ryther finishing third and freshman Alex Nelson also finishing in the top ten.


Boy’s varsity race winner, CV’s Friedland, stated that he was happy about how the race went and is focused on stretching his legs against the state’s best later in the season.  Only a second-year cross country runner who recently dropping soccer to run full-time, Friedland has been quietly posting solid times. His teammate and race runner-up Chris Ganem also dropped soccer to dedicate more time to running. This season will show how Ganem’s impressive track times from last spring will translate onto the cross country course.  Both teammates responded that their reason for dropping soccer is that they are better runners than soccer players.


CV’s boy’s team also exhibited its depth as CV’s Travis Gray won the JV race in 18:30.  Runners that have been on the team from the beginning report that a major difference on the team this year is that they are a tight pack, with a lot of jostling for the varsity spots.


In the Girl’s varsity race, Castle View’s Caitlin Rowlette and Kelsey Whetsell took up positions just behind the leader from Elizabeth.  By the ¾ mile, CV had sandwiched the Elizabeth runner before finally pulling away into the top 2 slots.  Arvada West’s freshman Erica Randle surged on a downhill to overtake the third place slot while the early leader held on to 4th. 


Girls varsity race champion Caitlin Rowlette stated that the course was difficult but that she felt good through the race.  Last year’s regional champion, junior Kelsey Whetsell feels that “this year’s team is a lot more competitive.”  Having qualified for the state meet 2 times already, Whetsell is looking forward to the team advancing. 


5A Arvada West turned in a “valiant effort,” to coin a favorite phrase of junior Kalli Kostelecky. AW took home second place in both the boys’ and girls’ varsity races.  Coach Craig Wagner felt that “everyone did their best” and was especially pleased that 19 out of his 25 runners took home awards.  Major improvements have marked AW’s season so far, as both the boys’ and girls’ teams have quickly replaced their graduated seniors with improving runners and new acquisitions.  For the boys, 15 year old Drew Ryther posted AW’s best time, taking third overall.  Reflecting on the race, he stated that he was disappointed initially, feeling like he gave up half way through the race, but pulled himself together near the end. “I didn’t know how strong the guys from Castle View were going in; they ran a great race. I’m really excited about our season. The team ran great today and we are only getting better.”  Girls’ third place finisher, Randle (Fr) echoed Ryther’s enthusiasm about her team’s 2nd place finish.  About the course, Randle remarked, “the sand was really deep and I rolled my ankle, but I didn’t give up!”  One of AW’s top female scorers, Ashley Straub, ran in the JV race after sitting out the beginning of the season with a possible IT band injury.


Overall, Elizabeth Invitational’s spectator-friendly, well-marked, 2 loop, clover-leaf shaped course proved more challenging than it first appeared with minor rolling hills punctuated by stretches of sand that allowed the runners to break out their spikes. Meet director and newly-hired Elizabeth coach Ron Swartzendruber stated that he will possibly add a middle school race to next year’s event and is looking forward to expanding the invitational to include more teams.


Castle View will compete this Friday at the Standley Lake invitational, while Arvada West will compete next at the Conifer invitational next Tuesday.


Special to Colorado Track XC by Karen Birch