Cheyenne Mountain sophomore Erik LeRoux jumped 11 spots from his freshman year and finished third in Saturday’s Class 4A state cross country championships at Norris Penrose Event Center.
LeRoux’s 15-minute, 50.3-second finish was bested by only Niwot’s Cruz Culpepper, who set a state meet record in 15:36.1, and Thompson Valley’s Dylan Schubert (15:48.5).
"I’m very pleased," LeRoux said. "Last year, I was disappointed with 14 because I expected better. My goal is probably to win state next year considering I’m the top returner."
LeRoux’s finish helped the Indians place third in the team standings with 156 points. Nick Huger (16:46.4), Enzo Knapp (17:15.4), Cedar Collins (17:16.8) and Austin Smith (17:27.0) all finished in the top 50 among team runners.
"I think Erik learned a lot last year in the race and was able to manage this year quite a bit better," said Cheyenne Mountain coach Stan Lambros. "He’s a sophomore, so, you know."
Air Academy’s Matthew Mettler (16:05.9) and Matthew Storer (16:23.5) finished sixth and 10th, respectively, to lead the Kadets to a fourth-place finish, six points back of the Indians.
Hans Larson was 15th in 16:35.0 to lead Palmer Ridge to fifth with 185 points.
CLASS 4A GIRLS
Despite not placing a runner on the podium, Air Academy earned a third-place team finish for the second year in a row thanks to a stacked middle pack.
Sophomore Ella Chura was the top Air Academy finisher placing 15th with a 19:16, followed by a flock of Kadets finishing in 23rd, 26th and 27th. Dylan Teeples (23rd), Tatum Miller (26th) and Zoe Lachnidt (27th) rounded out the Air Academy scoring.
"I felt like if we had a great pack time we would definitely be in the running for the top three," said Air Academy coach Chuck Schwartz said.
Miller was the only senior in the field for Air Academy, finishing the final race of her high school cross country career in 19:46 — a time Schwartz said she should be proud of after leaving a lasting mark on the Kadet cross country program.
"Tatum is the kind of kid every program dreams of and she will be missed," Schwartz said. "She is special. In every way. Work ethic, attitude, leadership and character and she's one we are never going to see again."
Cheyenne Mountain sophomore Hope Stark was the area’s top individual finisher, placing seventh in 18:46.
"I kind of just came in without any expectations since I'm trying just to take it as it comes," Stark said. "It was just really nice and cool how it came out. I felt super tired (at regionals) and ended up coming in fourth. So I was kind of discouraged, but last year I had a really good regionals and a terrible state (meet), so I was like maybe that will come out better."
Niwot took gold with 37 points thanks to three runners finishing in the top 10. Battle Mountain followed in second with 71 points with two in the top 10.
Palmer Ridge placed fifth with 156 points with freshman Jocelyn Millican placing 12th at 19:03.
CLASS 5A BOYS
Palmer's Gus McIntyre placed fifth in a fast 5A boys race in 15:39.6, chased by Liberty's Caleb Mann who finished eighth in 16:05.5, and Palmer junior Scott Prieve in ninth (16:06.5).
Valor Christian's Cole Sprout beat his 5A state record with a time of 15:12.7, beating the second-place runner, Connor Ohlson of Dakota Ridge, by 12 seconds. Sprout's 2018 state record time was 15:16.1.
Rampart junior Ben Conlin finished 19th with a 16:24.1.
Palmer finished seventh thanks to McIntyre's and Prieve's efforts in the top 10. The next Terror finishers were Wesley Wright in 46th and Cisco Alvarez in 63rd.
Liberty placed ninth . Mann's eighth-place finish was followed by Oscar Goll in 38th and Ben Townsend in 44th.
CLASS 5A GIRLS
Doherty's Mikayla Cox was the top area 5A girls' finisher, placing 32nd with a 19:49.2. Pine Creek freshman Lauren Boutelle placed 48th in 20:15.9 followed by Palmer senior Julia Solano (51st, 20:17.7) and freshman Adele Havlick (53rd, 20:19.6).
CLASS 3A GIRLS
Florence's Kylie Simshauser was the area's only top 10 finisher outside of The Classical Academy's Sawyer Wilson and Kennedy McDonald.
Simshauser finished fourth in 19:02.0, 1:02 behind the winner, Basalt's Sierra Bower.
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CLASS 3A BOYS
The Classical Academy placed second in the 3A team race behind a first-place finish by Mason Norman, chased by Ryan Flaherty, Adam Ambuul and Chandler Wilburn, all finishing in the top 25.
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CLASS 2A BOYS
Peyton claimed second finishing with three runners in the top 18. Senior Tyler Halliday finished 12th in 17:31, followed by junior Joel Schluessler in 14th (17:40) and Kelsey Montague in 18th (17:56).
Ellicott’s JJ Juarez placed fourth at 16:50.5, followed by St. Mary’s Dylan Brush, who snuck into the top 10 with a 17:28.
CLASS 2A GIRLS
Colorado Springs School senior Kate Griffin finished first among area runners , just missing the podium in 12th with a 21:16.0. Peyton's Cecelia Davies placed 15th in 21:33.