Boulder's Alex Diltz Claims 2017 Fastest Coach Honors

A robust set of trail warriors joined together for the 2017 Fastest Coach In The State Race. Contributed photo.

On Saturday morning the final cross country race on Colorado soil in 2017 went down as the much loved course behind Lyons High School hosted the Fastest Coach in the State Race. The annual affair has over the last six years become perhaps the most exclusive 5K in Colorado.

After a thick layer of snow and ice enveloped the course in 2016, the 2017 version saw runners enjoying just about perfect conditions for running, with many coaches squeezing themselves into an old team singlet.

Thirty-five brave souls from all CHSAA classifications as well as middle school toed the line. With former mens champions James Vance and Kelly Christensen sitting this one out, there would absolutely have to be a new mens champion. One previous womens champion, Ruby Bode, then of Estes Park, now of Erie Middle School showed up to reclaim her title against the likes of newcomer Jen Bryne of Golden and Shannon Teslow of Preston Middle.

The lead pack established itself pretty quickly. Terry Witkowski from Jefferson Academy, Paxton Smith from Lyons, Chris Legh from Lyons, Alex Diltz from Boulder and Geo Tam from Boulder staked out an early lead pack. The lead pack did not take long to turn into a one man show. Alex Diltz was a force to be reckoned with as he toured the course solo winning in 15:53. Paxton Smith was 2nd in 16:29. Chris Legh was 3rd overall and the masters mens' champion in 16:38.

Jen Byrne similarly staked out an early lead in the women's race and did not relent finishing in 20:23. Ruby Bode was second and Shannon Teslow was third as well as the masters champion.

Beyond individual bragging rights, there were two separate team competitions going on during the race: Classification vs. Classification and Colorado natives vs. the world. In order to qualify as a Colorado native, one needed only to have graduated from a high school in Colorado.

Looking at the entries, based solely on depth, the classification battle looked like it was going to come down to 3A and 5A battling for bragging rights. 5A drew blood first when Alex Diltz won. 3A answered with Terry Witkowski in 4th. Bryan Runyon from 5A Heritage and Geo Tam from 5A Boulder went 5th and 6th. 3A then sent Barton Tofany and Alex Harris from Estes Park as well as Ryan Ayala from Steamboat across in 9th, 10th, and 11th. Andrew Drysdale from 5A Regis was 12th. Through four runners, 5A had staked out a ten point lead, 34 to 24. Ben Hershelman from 3A Jefferson Academy finished 13th, but 5A slammed the door shut finishing 14th. Game, set and match to 5A. 4A was third with 88 points.

Race organizers were hoping perhaps for a more competitive race in the Colorado versus the world category, but it never materialized. The world took four of the first five places with only second place Paxton Smith holding a Colorado diploma. Team Colorado took 2nd, 6th and 7th, but Charles Janson from Eagle Valley slammed the door shut on any hope for the natives completing team scoring at 8th. World Team, 21 points, Colorado 37. Hopefully this is a rallying cry for more athletes currently running in Co to stick around and enter the coaching ranks.