The pros get champagne and rings, while the preps get watermelon and medals. 

As the last team to take the podium, The Classical Academy boys' cross country team brought a guest — a watermelon. After the photos and limelight subsided, they broke it open and passed it amongst the now-seven-time state champions. 

Standing next to them? The girls team, who saw four girls register a top-22 finish en route to the Titans' fourth consecutive girls' cross country state title, as well. 

Sophomore Matthew Edwards, who finished 14th in last year's event, knows part of the team's success could be attributed to where some of them train — the Norris Penrose Event Center, which was coincidentally the same location as Saturday's action.

"I was really nervous, but I knew I could do it," Edwards said. "I've trained at this park my whole life. Coming in, I knew I could win it with a lot of work.  

"The competition was insane." 

Edwards won the individual title for the boys with a time of 15:34.50. The time was over 40 seconds faster than second place. Junior Chandler Wilburn (fourth) and Manitou Springs senior Henry Ilysova (third) rounded out the area's top-five, 3A boys' finishers. 

Other notable 3A finishers 

Boys 

TCA senior Will Moore (19th), junior Casey Golden (10th) and sophomore Nathan Meister (20th) 

Banning Lewis Prep senior Johnathan Wiggins (23rd) 

Manitou Springs sophomore Cody Kelley (27th)

Girls 

TCA seniors Hope Ahnfeldt (sixth) and Sophia Valentine (22nd), juniors Sawyer Wilson (10th) and Kyra Shaner (29th) and sophomore Cassidy McDonald (11th) 

4A 

Cheyenne Mountain isn't satisfied. Its boys' cross country program is ranked second in the nation, but coach Stan Lambros still wants to take the mantle from Newbury Park in California — a program he says boasts one of the best single-year rosters, ever. 

His team did their best to oblige, winning the boys' team title by a landslide mark thanks to seven runners finishing in the top-21, with the top-five scorers all inside the top 12. 

The Red-Tailed Hawks beat second-place Niwot — that's ranked third in the country — by 43 points. Their score was 116 points better than third-place Battle Mountain, as well. 

"We've been working together for so long," senior Knox Exton said. "I don't think I could've or any of us could've been this fast without each other. We have fun, we have great moments and I couldn't imagine a better victory." 

Notable finishers 

Boys

CMHS seniors Erik Le Roux (second), Exton (fourth), Tyler Nord (seventh), Enzo Knapp (14th) and Jack Warmack (21st); junior Kaden Levings (third). 

Coronado senior Zinabu Engstrom (19th)

Palmer Ridge junior Jake Bach (20th) and sophomore Lucas Bossinger (24th)

Air Academy sophomore Nate Lumaye (27th) 

Girls

Air Academy finished fourth as a team behind freshman Tessa Everett's ninth-place finish

CMHS sophomore Lauren Raley (27th)

Palmer junior Adele Havlick (13th) and sophomore Olivia Sheridan (20th) 

2A

Colorado Springs Christian School had something beside a medal to fight for. 

Coach Rob Collins' wife is currently in hospice, so both teams dawned socks, pink paint and words of encouragement along their legs. They ran with a purpose, and finished second as a team — setting the program up for future success. 

"I love my girls, and I love my boys. They're an awesome group of kids," Collins said. "They've been so supportive — this last week's been really tough. With so much going on, I'm just so proud of them." 

Senior Elle Stevens was the Lions' highest finisher at third. Two spots ahead was Vanguard freshman, Nadhia Campos who broke the course record with a final time of 18:47.5. Her brother, junior Matthew, finished eighth in the boys' field. 

St. Mary's saw its boys' team finish second after leading the way through both unofficial markers midway through the race. Senior Dylan Brush had the highest Pirate finish (fifth). 

"I wanted to finish strong, because I've been stuck for two years," Brush said. "I was more focused on the team battle, but the last-race mentality got me over the hump." 

Other notable finishers 

Boys

Thomas MacLaren junior Jay Wood (sixth) and senior Ian Osko (20th). 

St. Mary's juniors Jackson Neppl (13th) and Lyndon Gotelaere (14th)

Girls

CSCS senior Isabel Case (ninth) 

Fountain Valley freshman Ruby Riecken (14th) 

5A notable finishers

Boys 

Liberty finished 18th as a team thanks to junior Noah Schneiderman's 28th-place finish

Rampart senior Sean Parker (34th)

Pine Creek junior Taylor Mallery (36th) 

Girls

Pine Creek finished fifth in the team standings with three runners — senior Madelyn Blazo (25th), sophomore Emma Wilhelm (26th) and junior Lauren Boutelle (32nd) — in the top-35 individuals. 

Contact the writer: luke.zahlmann@gazette.com

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