A Bluebird Day For The Middle School State Championships

It was near perfect weather for XC at the Middle School Cross Country State Championship - perfect for fast times. These young athletes did not disappoint, a few familiar names and a few new ones graced the top of the podium. The excitement was in the air for the largest middle school meet in the state. 

This race feels like High School Cross State Champs Lite as the athletes are broken into groups that best fit their future regions based on the schools they are likely to feed into.

The Blue Races tend to hold future 4A & 5A athlete and the Red Races hold 2A & 3A athletes. There is also a championship race for each gender that attracts some of the best athletes from across the state to race in what could be considered a true exhibition to see who is the fastest no matter 2A or 5A. Athletes can only compete in one race on the day so athletes have to make a conscious decision - do I want to be the Red or Blue champion or the Overall Champion?


Blue Division Championship Races - Boys

Brennan Draper was off the front early, stringing out the race from the gun and taking the win in 11:52. The real race was for second between Ben Swanson and Griffin MazeskiSwanson prevailing by .70 over Mazeski, running 12:03 to 12:04 in the final straight. If you're a follower of the USATF Junior Olympic scene you'll recognize a good number of these athletes as Junior Olympic National Champions or Junior Olympic All-Americans.

Blue Division Championship Races - Girls

Reigning USATF Junior Olympic National Champion Bethany Michalak showed up to see if she could take the top spot for the second year, and call herself two-time Colorado Middle School State Champ.

With an aggressive start, she pulled away from the field leaving a pack of eight in her wake. The chase pack was grouped behind Michalak and bunched together at the first mile before a few key contenders began to string out and break into two chase packs by the hill.

Michalak charged the hill only looking back long enough at the top to see Reese TuckerMia Prok and Elena Torres in her wake. By the time this pack reached the top of the hill Tucker and Prok were shoulder to shoulder leading into the final section.

Michalak took the tape in 12:45, and 11 seconds later Tucker charged down the finishing straight with Prok following 7 seconds later.

The Top 10 girls, all finishing with 10 seconds of the lead shows you just how stacked this field truly was!

Red Division Championship Race - Boys

The Red Division was not a guaranteed win for Blaine Pope from the gun, as Benjamin Anderson and Sean Beasley gave chase until the final hill on the Ranch.

Anderson and Beasley let Pope storm off the front and made it a race for second and boy it was a kick for the ages. Anderson charging down the finish had a classic 'look-back' moment before hitting the throttle into the finish.
Anderson out of SkyView secured second place ahead of that charging pack that would only separate third and fifth by 1.6 seconds. The rest of the Top 10 was pulled along by the front runners with a total gap of 45 seconds. 

Red Division Championship Race - Girls 

If a theme could be found amongst all these races, it was knowing when to kick!

Ortega's Elizabeth McQuitty and  Araceli Molina had a battle for the ages into the finish - the crowd was deafening in the final 10 meters. This race was undecided until the final straight away as a strong group of three, with McQuitty, Molina, and Suvina Heidt trading positions until the final mile when the girls form Ortega stuck together and pushed relentlessly into the long straight away into the finish.

Once the bikes came through the finish, it was a dead out sprint for McQuitty and Molina both clock 14:01.9  with the finish line camera giving the lean to McQuitty. This was one of the fastest Top-10 fields of the day with a total variance of 31 seconds for the Top-10.

Boys Open Race

The Boys Open Race was a battle of the packs with Kellin Wilson taking home the top spot over Cole McGinnis with a 2.7 second edge. The top 10 would come through in waves of 2 and three waging their own battles for the finish line. The battle for the final podium spot was an all out "who's got more guts" race into the finish between Jack McGirl  and Luke Bartunek with Bartunek taking the lean by.1!

Girls Open Race

The Girls Open race was a run-away win for Elyse McGinnis. McGinnis was out early and that's the last the field would see of her. The 7th grader out of Lincoln Middle School put nearly 50 seconds into her nearest competitor in a dominant win for the Girls Open title. Madelyn Culp out kicked Autumn McCorkel also from Lincoln Middle School. Leading the charge for the rest of field. The second through 10th spots filled in quickly here with a variance of 15 seconds, making for the closest races of the day in the Top 10.