The Durango girls cross-country team ran away with the 4A Region 5 title Thursday at the Elmwood Golf Course in Pueblo.
The team’s five scoring runners all finished in the top seven a mere 21 seconds apart. Three others finished in the top 14, and all nine placed in the top 20.
“Eight girls in the top 14, that’s crazy,” said DHS head coach Ken Flint. “I couldn’t be more proud of how they performed today.”
Durango’s boys also qualified for the state championships with a second-place finish behind Cheyenne Mountain, the No. 2-ranked team in the nation.
“The guys ran well and were right where they needed to be,” Flint said.
Junior Willow Lott led the Durango girls with a second-place finish in 19:50.
“Willow came back strong after not running at conference,” Flint said.
Junior Nina Quayle was DHS’ second finisher, placing fourth in 20:05 while four of her teammates finished in the next 13 seconds.
Freshman Sofia Voss placed fifth in 20:07, senior Abby Fehr finished sixth in 20:11, senior Angela McManus placed seventh in 20:11, and freshman Brynn Aggeler crossed eighth in 20:18.
“That’s a great pack time for the girls,” Flint said about the 21 seconds separating the team’s top-five runners. “They’re really pushing each other in bigger races, which bodes well for state.”
Freshman Dewa Ilg finished 11th in 20:27, senior Mia Whistler finished 14th in 20:49, and senior Angelina Kondrat placed 19th out of 80 runners in 21:03.
Durango, the No. 3-ranked team in Class 4A, ended up winning the team title with 24 points, followed by No. 9-ranked Cheyenne Mountain (94), Pueblo West (113) and Cañon CIty (115) as the region’s four qualifying teams.
“Overall, the team effort was very impressive,” the coach said. “The freshman girls continue to impress, and same with the seniors.”
Montrose (125), Mesa Ridge (134), Widefield (178), Pueblo County (207) and Pueblo South (216) also raced the Demons and qualified individuals for the state meet.
Pueblo West runner Aspen Fulbright won the individual title in 18:59.
In the boys’ regional championship, Durango, which is ranked No. 6 in class 4A, raced against Cheyenne Mountain, the one of the top-rated teams in the nation.
DHS senior Land Lambert, however, was still racing for a regional title. After 2 miles, Lambert had a seven-second lead in the race.
Cheyenne Mountain’s Erik Le Roux eventually caught Lambert and won the race in 15:55, while Lambert finished as the runner-up in 16:07.
“Land ran another exceptional race,” Flint said. “He made him (Le Roux) work for it.”
While Lambert ran away in the lead, senior Damian Frausto held back and ran with the pack but was still the next runner to finish. Frausto placed third in 16:09, while six Cheyenne Mountain Red-Tailed Hawks were the next to finish.
Sophomore Charlie Dillman was DHS’ next finisher, placing 19th in 17:52.
Freshman Nove Tocco crossed 24th in 18:04. “He went out fast and was able to hold on,” Flint said.
Senior Thomas Pope rounded out DHS score, placing 39th in 19:40.
“It was neat to see him be a scorer in his final regional race,” Flint said.
Freshman Brodie Dorko placed 42nd in 19:49, senior Jacob Fenberg placed 51st in 20:42, and sophomore Micah Zastrocky finished 59th out of 83 runners in 21:21.
Nathaniel Ellis, who has been the team’s No. 3 runner this season, did not race. Will McFarlene was disqualified for inadvertently cutting a corner.
Cheyenne Mountain ended up winning the team title with 23 points, followed by Durango (80), Widefield (103), Mesa Ridge (108) in the final qualifying spot, Pueblo County (156), Montrose (157), Pueblo West (192), Pueblo South (217), Cañon City (242), Pueblo East (276) and Pueblo Central (300).
“I think it was fun to step up against one of the top teams in the nation,” Flint said. “We showed we should be up there (where we’re ranked).”
Durango will now prepare for the state championships, Oct. 30 at Norris Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs.
Durango’s girls will look to win a team trophy at the state meet. They’ll compete with Niwot, the No. 2-ranked team in the nation, and Air Academy, who finished ahead of DHS at the Desert Twilight race in Arizona. Niwot had six girls finish in under 18 minutes to win that race.
Lambert and Frausto, meanwhile, both set gals at the the beginning of the season to run a sub-16 and finish in the top-10 at the state meet.
“I’m just proud of the kids – the way they’re running, the way they’re coming together, and the way they’re having fun doing it,” Flint said.