Someday, Katie Rainsberger might run her way into endorsement deals. Just a word to timepiece companies:
She’s not your type.
“I don’t run with a watch,” said the bubbly Air Academy freshman, who made her high school debut by winning the Cheyenne Mountain Stampede 4A girls’ race Friday at the Norris-Penrose Event Center. “I base how I’m running on effort.”
So when Rainsberger entered the rodeo arena for the final stretch and saw the scoreboard clock for the first time, it did prompt a spirited sprint to the finish. Her final time of 19 minutes, 58.6 seconds topped the entire 4A field.
“Coming into the stadium, I saw the clock and told myself I was going to break 20,” said Rainsberger, whose mom, Lisa, was the last American woman to win the Boston Marathon, doing so in 1985. “That was my goal.”
The Cheyenne Mountain Stampede served as a dress rehearsal for the state championships in October. The 5K layout utilizes both Bear Creek Park and the nearby rodeo grounds, combining a variety of terrain, creek passes, water crossings and, of course, the signature barn passes early in the race.
And it wouldn't be a true cross country race without a large hill or two.
“Oh, the hill is the hardest part,” said Air Academy junior Danyon Anderson, who lost a late lead but still finished second in the first of the two boys’ 4A races. “I passed a lot of people on that hill, but I lost some at the end. I was so happy with second and maybe could have outsprinted him at the end. Maybe it’ll be different next time.”
For Rainsberger, the wait finally ended Friday with her first race. Now, the fun really begins.
“I was really looking forward to it, but more to the start of the season than just the first race,” Rainsberger said. “The first two weeks of school have been a blur, but I’ve been having fun and training hard. My teammates and teachers are amazing. I won’t run every race. I've heard about some girls who run every week and have nothing left at the end. The race that really counts is state, but I wanted to learn as much as I could in this one.”
Maybe she can learn from the experience based on the big steps taken by Palmer Ridge sophomore Eric Hamer. As a freshman, he finished a respectable 16th overall in the boys’ race at the Cheyenne Mountain Stampede with a time of 18:45. One year later, the much-improved Hamer placed fourth in 17:50, a 55-second jump.
“You can be really good as a freshman, but you need that experience,” Hamer said. “I felt discouraged after the race last year, but I learned a lot just being a freshman and getting ready for cross country this year. We still think of this race as practice on a hard course, but we see this as a warmup to regionals, league and state. From beginning to end, I want it to be fun.”
NOTE: Full meet results were not available at press time