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Streak of titles comes to end for TCA girls

October 26, 2013 Updated: October 26, 2013 at 7:42 pm
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photo - The Classical Academy sophomore Kirsten Kropkowski, right, tears up after finishing the state cross country championship 4A race at the Norris Penrose Events Center Saturday, October 26, 2013. The Classical Academy placed fifth as a team. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette
The Classical Academy sophomore Kirsten Kropkowski, right, tears up after finishing the state cross country championship 4A race at the Norris Penrose Events Center Saturday, October 26, 2013. The Classical Academy placed fifth as a team. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette 

Normally, a fifth-place team finish doesn't garner many headlines.

But when that team hails from The Classical Academy, where its girls team had won the last 10 state team titles - nine in 3A and last year in 4A - anything other than the top step on the podium is certainly newsworthy.

So those in attendance Saturday at the conclusion of the state cross country championships at Norris-Penrose Event Center witnessed history when a team other than TCA was announced as that division's team champion for the first time since 2002.

"I guess we get to learn what other people have felt," Titans coach Alan Versaw said. "We get to learn how to come back from disappointment."

From 2003-11, TCA dominated the 3A world at the state cross country meet, winning the first-place trophy each time. Before the 2012 season, Versaw elected to move up and run with 4A competition. His Titans didn't miss a beat, getting two top-10 finishes and outdistancing Coronado by 29 points for the 4A title.

On Saturday, TCA, sparked by a 10th-place finish from senior Lauren Hamilton, couldn't defend the crown, finishing behind Thompson Valley, Niwot, Battle Mountain and Mountain View.

"We didn't do badly, but we weren't at the level it took to win." Versaw said. "The program goes on. When you have a situation like this, you take stock of the situation and you realize maybe what did it for us in the past doesn't do it for us anymore. I feel like we've worked really hard, but all the sudden, wow, we have to work harder."

Conversely, the TCA boys' team, which finished eighth in the 4A race in 2012 after winning the 3A state crown in 2011, soared to a second-place finish.

"Last year, we were unprepared and ran the race the wrong way," said Titans senior Chandler Ryd, who set a personal-best with a 19th-place finish. "We felt more confident this year. With the move to 4A, it forced all of us to step up our game and work a lot harder, during the season and offseason."

Titans senior Conner Wilburn placed fourth, completing a high school career in which he placed in the top 10 in all three state appearances, to lead the Titans.

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