When Bailey Roth moved to Colorado Springs just before the start of the 2012 school year, he knew the challenge that faced him.

The junior — the 3A cross country state champion in Georgia last year — had a new classification, and most importantly, a new elevation to deal with.

“It was very difficult, and it was a challenge I knew I had to overcome to be able to perform to the best of my ability,” Roth said. “It took me about nine weeks to be acclimated to the air here.”

Roth did a solid job of going from 900 feet above sea level to over 6,000, and says that finishing second in the 4A state race and leading his team to the school’s first cross country state championship was an unforgettable achievement.

“Individually, I would say the training and everything that prepared me for state and regionals was the best part of my season,” said Roth, who finished with a time of 16:40.7.

“The state title came along with our hard work, but it was the fact that we have a great team and we’re friends and we had fun with it. It’s about the journey, not the result.”

Coronado coach Doug Hugill had nothing but glowing things to say about his first-year runner.

“He came in here with a lot of talent and we tried to build his strength up because he came from sea level and there are a lot of hills in the courses here,” Hugill said. “Bailey’s last month was phenomenal and we are really proud of him; he is a true champion. A year from now he’ll be even more adapted to running here.”

With his senior season still ahead of him, Roth reflected on his incredible junior campaign — which included a league and regional championship, as well as the state runner-up finish.

“I’ve never been a part of such a great program as at Coronado,” he said. “The team was so accepting of me, and having them there to push me and give me so much support was really nice. We all worked hard together with the state title in mind and I looked forward to going to practice every day because we worked as a team no matter what.”