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Durango cross-country has lofty expectations for state

Demons among Class 4A favorites

With the fall foliage winding down and the temperature starting to dip in and around Durango, it has made for ideal training conditions for the Durango High School cross-country teams. The Demons will travel to the Norris-Penrose Event Center in Colorado Springs for Saturday’s Colorado High School Activities Association’s Class 4A state championship meet, and will hope to make the most of an autumn full of hard work.

“The preparation has been really good this week,” said DHS head coach Ken Flint. “The kids are getting a bit anxious, trying to rest up and get fresh legs to perform the best we can on Saturday. I’m confident that we can do well given how we’ve run all season.”

Durango will enter the state meet with a pair of regional titles, as both the boys and girls teams won last week’s Class 4A Region 5 race in Delta. Additionally, DHS has two teams ranked inside the top 10, as the girls team moved up to No. 4 after last week’s regional win, while the boys remained at No. 6, despite beating out No. 2 Cheyenne Mountain.

Senior Madeleine Burns is among the favorites heading into Saturday, as she has the fourth-fastest time in Class 4A in 17 minutes, 22.71, which is also a DHS school record. With a strong pack group composed of freshmen and sophomores behind her, Burns said this is the most confident she’s felt heading into her fourth and final state meet.

“If everybody can put it together individually, it will end up with really good results as a team,” Burns said. “For me, given my summer and fall, I feel like this is the best shape I’ve been in. I haven’t been racing as much, and was able to really focus on my training, which has made a huge difference. It was a similar thought with state track. I didn’t race as much, and had only done the 3,200 a few times before state, but had done it in training a lot. I’m super hopeful, and I think it could be good for the kids wearing Durango colors this weekend.”

Durango has also had strong performances from freshmen Willow Lott, Ashley Forrest and Sophie Ragsdale. Sophomores Angela McManus and Tea Forrest will make their return to state, while senior Kiara Hamlin has found her stride, as well.

“Our pack runners have been really strong all year long,” Flint said. “At any given race, it’s been a different four or five who have stepped up for us, and while I’m not sure who it’s going to be on Saturday, they will make a huge difference in our finish. Having that low time really reduces your team score, and gives you a better chance. I think if our pack runners do well, we will do well.”

On the boys side, Luke Tichi will lead the No. 6 Demons at the meet. The senior has the sixth-fastest time in Class 4A at 15:22.1, and it’s the second-fastest time in school history. DHS will also look to have strong performances from Paul Knight, Logan Moore, Land Lambert and Aiden Quayle.

“Luke has been running the strongest I’ve ever seen him run,” Flint said. “Paul and Logan have looked super solid for us. Land and Aiden have put in some work, and Aiden turned into a strong cross-country runner. For the boys, I think it will come down to that pack time, too. If Land and Aiden run well, anything can happen. After losing so much talent from last year, I’m really proud of the way the boys have stepped up. We’re as strong as we were from last year.”

Competition will be stiff across the board for DHS, as Niwot enters both the boys and girls race as favorites. The Cougars’ girls team is ranked No. 8 in the nation. Not far behind is Battle Mountain, which has won two out of the last three Class 4A titles. Air Academy is also expected to be a contender.

On the boys side, Durango will also have to square off against powerhouses Cheyenne Mountain and Palmer Ridge.

DHS will look for another high finish, as the boys team finished fourth last year, while the girls took seventh.

The gun will go off in the girls race at 9:40 a.m., while the boys will begin at 11 a.m.

“No matter how this weekend plays out, I’m so thankful for the awesome work of our coaching staff, Kat Marks, Kelly Skaggs and Maddie Obernesser,” Flint said. “They’ve done a tremendous job of getting our runners to this point, and now it’s time to go out and perform our best.”


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