The best snowshoers in Colorado will be matched against the best snowshoers in the nation this weekend at Summit High School in Frisco. Photo by Alan Versaw.
What will be the storyline on MileSplit Colorado come Sunday? Will it be Samantha Lewis’s third straight National Championship? Will it be former Cheyenne Mountain High School’s and current CU freshman Mitchell Kasyon’s second straight National Championship? And, my biggest question is this: Will Colorado Junior Snowshoe racers sweep the podium at the 2012 Dion Snowshoes USSSA National Snowshoe Championship 5K? My answer: The nation better watch out for the high altitude racers.
Athletes from all over the country will ascend to Summit High School for the 12th annual national championship race. Paul Smiths College in northwestern New York is sending their team out to compete and they will definitely contend in the race. David Kucia, Jack Mulvihill, and Ana Hull will represent their college as 19-year-old racers in this division. These three give our Colorado contingent the biggest threat for places on the national team. Watch for them to try and break up the sweep. Melissa Tekippe of Wisconsin has shown she will mix it up with the girls by winning her classification this year. Look for sophomores Eric Hulbert of Mexico High School in Mexico, New York, and Henry Sime of Cimarron High School in Cimarron, New Mexico, to continue their snowshoe racing traditions.
All of these names are foreign to most of us here in Colorado, but here some names that will remind of us of why Colorado will go for the sweep on the boys’ side: Evergreen’s Jackson Sayler and Sam Sahli, Cheyenne Mountain’s Ben Fox and Alex Baer, and 2011 Colorado High School Snowshoe State Champion from Smoky Hill Kyle Ames are just the high school boys in the race. These names alone strike fear in most coaches around the state, but let me throw two other names your way, former Cheyenne Mountain stars Postyn Smith of Williams College and defending national champion Mitchell Kasyon of CU. What a lineup we have representing our state at this championship race!
I will be lucky enough to watch this race unfold as I do not race the 10K until 11:30, but I am not sure who to pick as my lead horse. Ames is growing into his own as a determined and competitive snowshoe racer, and during the race two weekends ago I saw a true grit on his face that he did not have at the 2011 CO HS Snowshoe State Championship. This will be his third snowshoe race, and he will definitely contend.
As a Summit coach, I have witnessed the Evergreen teams in real life, and I was present to watch Sayler and Sahli compete with one of the state’s best snowshoe racers at the Swift Skedaddle in Silverthorne. While I was running the 10K, I glanced back at the 5K turn and saw these two Cougars racing their guts out against PowerBar Team Elite racer Tim Hola. I was quite impressed with their running, which had improved greatly from when they raced at the 2011 Snowshoe State Championship.
Fox and Baer at CMHS continue their school’s outstanding tradition in distance racing this weekend. They will represent with pride, and they have made big leaps from last year’s snowshoe state championship, too, much like Sayler and Sahli. They will not be alone, as their former teammates Kasyon and Smith will continue their tradition of shredding the snow at Summit HS.
My prediction: Kasyon and Smith will go 1-2 in the race. I think Kasyon has a slight edge in the race with his altitude training, but Smith is no slouch. I cannot wait to watch these two young men race each other again in snowshoes; this will be the first time they raced one another since the inaugural 2010 Colorado Snowshoe State Championship where the two men were 1-2, Kasyon followed by Smith. Kyle Ames will finish behind them for the third and final National Team position, while Sahli, Sayler, Baer, and Fox will fight for the next four spots. I will not discount Paul Smiths racers, but the altitude training that Evergreen and CMHS have will be the difference in this race that boasts a 300 foot climb between 1K and 3.5K.
The girls’ 5K will be the final snowshoe race for Boulder High School’s Sam Lewis on her storied course in Frisco for a few years while she runs for the Beavers of Oregon State. Lewis has become the greatest snowshoe racing girl in the history of the sport, surpassing Golden’s Anna Lieb from the mid 2000s. This is Lewis’s race to win, and she will set the bar high for any future snowshoe girl racer for the history of the USSSA. Since the boys and girls race this race together, I really hope that Lewis can race with Ames again like she did two weekends ago. It would be something to see her come in front of him, much like she finished third overall in the 2011 National Championship behind Kasyon and Ben Palladino of Paul Smiths College.
The girls’ race from 2nd place back will be interesting. There is still a chance other CMHS girls will come race, and although I cannot find much information on Hull of Paul Smiths, I foresee her coming in the top three. It will be interesting to see where Summit Middle School’s McKenna Ramsay will finish in the race. She was second at the 2012 Colorado Snowshoe State Championship. Could Ramsay be the next Lewis? That is a question that will be answered next year, but she could contend for the 2nd spot. Pomona High School’s Mariah Henderson is quietly becoming a star in the sport too, and it will be great to see her race Nationals. Henderson could sneak in the top three ahead of Hull with the fact she has been training on the high plains of Arvada, CO. Hull has the only real shot at breaking up this Colorado sweep, and I look for Wisconsin’s Tekippe to throw her hat in the ring for that third and final national team spot.
I feel a lot of Colorado pride coming into this race. Watching our Colorado runners dominate the snowshoe racing field this weekend will be the icing on the cake for this race. The Junior 5K starts at 9:00 AM this Saturday (2/25) at Summit High School in Frisco, CO. Do you want to race, but you did not qualify for nationals? You can race the Citizens’ Race at 1:15 PM, which is the same course your high school brothers and sisters will be racing earlier that morning. Come up, watch the races, and compete in the 5K later that day. Bring your cowbells and Colorado flags…this is the Centennial State’s race to win!