The Classical Academy’s Mason Norman didn’t have his best day at last year’s Class 3A state cross country meet, but he made up for it when he returned to Norris-Penrose Event Center on Saturday.
As a freshman, he finished in 38th place in 17 minutes, 46.8 seconds, and the Titans finished second to Alamosa in the team standings.
“It’s not like he dropped off the edge of the Earth, but he wasn’t satisfied with his state race,” TCA coach Alan Versaw recalled.
Norman had his best day to date at his second state race, winning the 3A boys’ race at in 15:56.7, nearly six seconds clear of Elizabeth's David Fine. The personal record helped the Titans claim the team title and earned Norman Peak Performer of the Week honors.
The improved time and place was the result of an offseason spent building endurance and speed.
“I worked a lot harder over the summer than I did going into my freshman year,” Norman said. “I feel like that made a big difference.”
Norman took a familiar plan to the first-place finish.
“I just kinda tried to stick behind the leading pack, and then just kinda follow them,” he said. “Once we’re about halfway through the race, I try and pass those guys and start pushing and take the lead.”
Once he breaks from the lead group, there’s little chance of catching him, according to his coach.
“He’s patient as a racer,” Versaw said. “He has a very good sense of when it’s time to go.”
That plan kept the 3A individual title in the Norman household. Mason’s older brother, Tanner, won 3A race in 2016 and was the 4A champion the year before. Mason understands comparisons will be made between the two, but that doesn’t seem to impact his aspirations.
“I don’t know really where I am hoping to be when I’m a senior,” Norman said. “I’m just hoping to progressively get better every year. I feel like I did a good job of doing that this year.”
Mason also passed on the chance - for now at least - to remind Tanner, who’s running at Iowa State, that his younger brother needed less time to win a state race. The hope is that Mason will also run in college when the time comes.
For now, another year of improvement remains the primary focus.
“That’s definitely something I want to do,” Norman said of running in college. “I hope to be getting a lot better and improving my times a ton.”
The improvement from freshman to sophomore year is a good place to start.
“He wanted to erase last year’s memory, and he did that,” Versaw said.
Other Peak Performers
Liz Phillips, Palmer Ridge
The senior captain secured the Bears’ state championship, scoring the final goal of the shootout against Kent Denver on Thursday. Phillips finished the season tied for second on the team with 11 goals. She also added seven assists, as Palmer Ridge finished 16-1-1.
Keion Cross, Rampart
The senior running back helped the Rams stay in the hunt for a league title after rushing for 181 yards and two scores on just nine carries in Friday’s 53-6 win over Coronado. He had a long rush of 69 yards.
Demetrio Araiza, Atlas Prep
The junior helped the Gryphons win the program’s first postseason game with a pair of goals from the penalty spot in Thursday’s win over Faith Christian. Araiza’s seventh and eighth goals of the season were the only two scores of the match.
Taylor Buckley, Lewis-Palmer
Buckley, a junior, was one of the Rangers’ leading hitters, as they improved to 23-0 after the weekend’s Cheyenne Mountain tournament. She put down 13 balls against Eaton on Saturday had 17 kills in a four-set win over Fossil Ridge on Friday.