Colorado Shines Bright At Team Cross Nationals

A windy and chilly morning in Portland, Ore. didn't stop the Colorado girls from proving their dominance at the 2022 Team Cross Country Nationals.

With two girls teams competing, as well as six individual qualifiers all representing Colorado, there was a lot to see and lots to celebrate.

Let's dive in!

In the team standings, Niwot took second overall in a dominating performance with 109 points - that's a program-best, as it took them one step up from their 2019 performance, where they finished third. Likewise, the Air Academy girls also put out an amazing performance themselves - they proved that they deserved to be on the starting line, as they finished seventh after earning one of four At-Large Berths.

Niwot was led by freshman Addison Ritzenhein who finished 18th with a PR of 17:38.40.

With Ritzenhein only being a freshman, she has already accomplished so many things with a bright future ahead of her. She was the 4A Region 3 champion, runner-up in the 4A State Championships, and has now led her team to a runner-up finish at Nationals. We can expect lots from her in the coming years!

Following Ritzenhein was Bella Nelson who placed 48th, clocking 18:06.80. Mia Prok finished 55th in 18:12.40, Olivia Alessandrini finished 56th in 18:15.50, Madison Shults finished 72nd in 18:28.0, Lex Bullen finished 92nd in 18:43.80, and Anna Prok finished 94th in 18:44.50.

All of these girls put out incredible efforts this season to put Niwot on the map!

In the individual race we saw not one, but TWO Colorado girls finish in the top three: Brooke Wilson and Bethany Michalak

Wilson was runner-up clocking 16:54.60.

We've seen some incredible things from the 5A State Champion this season, and now she has topped off her high school cross country career with a runner-up finish at Team Nationals.

Her time was only a second off of her season best on a tough course, making this her fifth sub-17 minute effort this season.

"The whole time I just thought to myself...'I can give more I can give more,' and I'm just so happy with how it all worked out," Wilson stated when talking about her race strategy.

Michalak had her best performance of the season, as she secured her spot on the podium by finishing third in 16:55.40.

This is the junior's season best and first time dipping under that 17-minute mark. She had a great improvement from the Southwest Regional Championship where she finished fourth in 17:02.80.

"We were so motivated to really prove ourselves and our worth here today and just give it our all as a team," Michalak stated confidently when asked what it was like to be there sharing the experience with her team, Air Academy.

In the field of nearly 200 of the best runners in the nation, all five of Colorado's individual qualifiers finished in the top 30.


Isabel Allori finished 14th in 17:33.20, followed by Emma Stutzman in 17th, who clocked 17:35.20. Ella Hagen finished 25th in 17:50.40.

Additionally, Air Academy's Tessa Walter finished 39th overall, giving Colorado a staggering seven in the top-40. 

In the boys race, representing Colorado were seniors Tyler Downs of Mountain Vista and Kaden Levings of Cheyenne Mountain.