William Kincaid of Columbine applies the heat to Denver South's Kidane Berhane as the first big climbs of the open space portion of the race begin. Photo by Alan Versaw.
Rock Canyon Coach Dan Davies set out to create a challenging cross country course. He succeeded. The new Rock Canyon course defines the concept "strength course."
And those who were not patient with their pace on this course paid a hefty price. Most of the first half mile was over deep, thick grass, followed by a long, steady climb of the next half mile. At that point, the course exited to open space where the course dipped sharply to a dry creek crossing, and then climbed relentlessly to the turnaround at about two miles. The course then retraced its route back to the one-mile mark, leaving the fatigued runners with one big hill to climb starting at about 2.6 miles, followed by a moderatley downhill finish of roughly 0.2 miles.
On this day, Columbine's William Kincaid was master of the challenge. Patiently hanging back while Denver South's Jawaro Abdi blistered the early pace, Kincaid reeled in the competition over the long hills of the open space section and came home with a convincing 19-second margin of victory.
The team title, however, was a runaway of a different order. Rock Canyon's boys, very much at home on their own course, took no prisoners. Rather, they left the combatants strewn along the side of the trail, posting an easy 31-point margin of victory. Regis Jesuit ran a very capable and impressive B-team to claim second place.
On the girls' side, The Classical Academy kept all seven runners in the top 15 throughout the race but seemed content to never force a harder pace. Kaitlin Hanenburg had opened up a 40-second lead by 1.3 miles and then locked into cruise control for the win. The tightest battle came for second, third, and fourth where Tobi Kroskob (Ponderosa), Katie McLaughlin (Rock Canyon), and Kellyn Craig (Denver South) remained in close contact throughout the race before charging to the finish line, each finishing within a second of the others.
In-district rivals Ponderosa and Rock Canyon claimed second and third places, respectively, in the team standings.