The 5A Girls Class of 2013

In the highly-decorated class of 2013 5A girls, Melanie Nun, Erin Hooker, and Heather Bates are among the most decorated. Photos by Jeff McCoy.

Special to Colorado Track XC by Kyle Gillette


As a group, the 5A senior girls have amassed quite a collection of awards and accomplishments over the past 4 years. But, something was missing – something big. That big missing piece was added when Heather Bates crossed the finish line at the Colorado State Cross Country Championships, becoming their first and only State Champion. It was fitting that Heather should be the one to win the last meet, because, as a freshman, she was the first member of the 5A class of 2013 to win a high school meet.
A little over three years ago, the entering freshman girls, class of 2013, had heard their older teammates whisper about the legendary Allie McLaughlin and how she had dominated the state championship race, winning by over a minute.  They would hear them mention names like; Clare Gallagher, Kelsey Lakowske, and Eleanor Fulton, as the runners to watch this year.  Kristen Kientz and Rikki Gonzales from the current sophomore class, showed them that girls can achieve as freshmen.  What mark would this freshman class leave?
The first week of the 2009 season would produce no individual titles for this group of freshmen girls. They would, however, make a strong statement at the Poudre School District Pre-State Meet, with three of their members placing in the top ten.  They would not have to wait much longer for success.  
In week two, Heather Bates would win the Widefield Invitational. On the same day, Erin Hooker nearly accomplished the same feat, finishing runner-up in a close race at the Cherry Creek Invitational.   Running at the Elizabeth Invite a few days later, Morgan Neher would add a second individual title to the class of 2013’s collection.  Their first invitational season went well and they soon learned that the regional races were important and would ultimately decide if their season continued.
Ten of the freshmen girls placed in the top 15 at their regional races, with Heather Bates winning her region. In all, there would be 39 runners representing the 5A class of 2013 at the state meet. The meet, held at Fossil Ridge High School, would be their only experience with a relatively flat, fast state race course. Juniors Kelsey Lakowske and Eleanor Fulton took first and second. Taking a share of the top fourteen places were Kailie Hartman (5th), Bates (6th), and Erin Hooker (12th). Nice finishes were also added by Kristi Oslund (17th) and Ali Groninger (26th).  
Hartman, Bates, and Hooker would have almost the same finishes at NXN Southwest a few weeks later – a testament to the quality of Colorado’s state championship field.
The 2010 season would open with a victory at the Brighton Mercury Classic by Melanie Nun. Three of her fellow sophomores would be in the top 5 at the Lori Fitzgerald Memorial Pre-State XC Invitational. This group had grown even stronger in year two, as frequently demonstrated during the invitational season.  
Further proof of their growing strength; 17 girls would finish in the top 15 of their regional races including the top three finishers for Region 4, led by Kailie Hartman.
For the next two years the state meet would be at the Arapahoe County Fairgrounds, and this challenging course would feature a double dose of the “power-line climb.” 
Twenty-eight new faces were added to the state meet, which when combined with returning runners made for a total of 52 – a large portion of the total field.   In a tremendous finish, Erin Hooker would place second overall, behind defending champion Kelsey Lakowske and ahead of Eleanor Fulton. Next would be newcomers, Erin Schilmoeller (18th) and Maddie Ivy (19th). Melanie Nun(22nd), Taleah McClintlock (25th), and Ali Groniger (26th) would round out the top 26.  
Several weeks later, Erin Hooker would finish 2nd and Kailie Hartman 6th at NXN Southwest.
Now, one of their own, along with several members from a strong senior class, were considered front runners.  There were also some murmurings about a freshman phenom.  
Morgan Neher would open the first day of the 2011 season with a win at the Joe Davis Classic.  This year, three would finish in the top 10 at the pre-state meet.  With a seemingly slow start to the invitational season, Liberty Bell would allow the girls to show off their speed by taking 4 of the top ten finishes in division I and 2 of the top finishes in division II.  
At the end of the season, the regional races would feature 21 of their class placing in the top 15. And in three of those regions they would represent 40% of the top individuals.
There would be 56 state runners – almost one-third of the field, including 20 first timers.  Freshman phenom Jordyn Colter would win the race and Erin Hooker would finish in 7th place.  Rachel Chacko (11th), Melanie Nun (12th), and Karlee Schwartzkopf (13th) would round out the top fourteen.  Maddie Ivy (15th), Gina Hauptman (16th) and Taylor Floming (20th) placed in the top 26 finishers. 
Erin Hooker would go on to have a better post season, finishing first at NXN Southwest and 11th at NXN Nationals.
There did not seem to be as much optimism for this group going into 2012.  The level of competition for 5A girls was growing and considered to be the toughest it had ever been. The class of 2014 had taken 5 of the top 10 spots at state the year before and Jordyn Colter was a strong favorite to repeat.  There was one bright spot - Heather Bates would be returning to 5A.
The 2012 season arrived with their final opportunity to establish a legacy.  Karlee Schwartzkopf would win the Arapahoe Warrior Invitational followed by her fellow seniors in positions two through four. Farther south, seniors would account for 9 of the top 20 spots at the Cheyenne Mountain Stampede.  Firsts were earned by; Rachael Chacko at the Aurora City Championships, Maddie Ivy at Elizabeth Invite, Sydney Fleece at the Rock Canyon Invite, Melanie Nun at the Thornton Invite, Erin Hooker at the TCA Titan Thunder, Kristi Oslund at the Rampart Invite, and Heather Bates at Pat Amato.  Heather Bates, Karlee Schwartzkopf, Erin Hooker, and McKenna Spillar would be their league champions. Melaine Nun and Heather Bates would finish first in their regions. 
In 2012 there were 17 new senior girls running at state for a total of 45 runners – one-quarter of the field. It was the smallest group since their freshmen year.  What they lost in quantity, however, they made up for in quality and perhaps, more importantly, experience.
They were well represented in the top 14 finishers, which included Heather Bates (1st), Melanie Nun (5th), McKenna Spillar (7th), Rachael Chacko (9th) and Maddie Ivy (14th).  Rounding out the top 26 were Karlee Schwartzkopf (16th) and Kristi Oslund (26th).
Girl’s 5A cross country has become very competitive and it is difficult to know if we have seen a peak in runner quality or if it is still improving.  Part of this improvement is due to the spirit, strength, and leadership of the class of 2013. Ladies, thank you for a great 4 years!
Interesting Bits
12 runners were at state all four years: Rachel Chacko, Erin Davidson, Taylor Floming, Brooke Genovese, Kailie Hartman, Erin Hooker, Madi Lohman, Brooke Mackay, Claire Noser, Melanie Nun, Kristi Oslund, Lindsey Smith, and McKenna Spillar.
17 girls qualified for state 3 times: Gabriela Augustin, Kelsey Alexander, Heather Bates, Kaitlyn Biever, Veronica Carriedo, Margot Clyne, Taylor Fogg, Ali Groninger, Gina Hauptman, Maddie Ivy, Laura Londono, Brittany Mackay, Kiera Mckee, Hannah Parker, Amy Penn, Karlee Schwartzkopf, and Rachel Street.
103 different girls from the class of 2013 competed at state.
Among those with at least two state appearances, the top average finishers were [avg/num of times]: Erin Hooker [13.8 / 4], Maddie Ivy [16 / 3], Melanie Nun [19.3 / 4], Karlee Schwartzkopf [24.7 / 3], and Ali Groninger [29.3 / 3].  
For a good portion of the 2012 cross country season, Fort Collins, Monarch, and Pine Creek were ranked among the top 25 teams in the nation.  Only the first and third most populated states were comparable. Not bad for the 22nd most populous state.