Cougars Hobble into Championships


Maddy Morland, 12, and the rest of the girls’ xc team warming up before their race.

Isabella Janney, Co-Editor-in-Chief

As a perfect symbol of the season, the last cross country race of the regular season was a hot and dusty struggle, but as soon as the awards were over, the wind picked up and the temperature dropped 20 degrees.


That can only mean one thing: it is time for the championships.


This week, the Cougars head down to Fountain Fort Carson for the Colorado Springs Metro League (CSML) Championships.  They will compete against the rest of the league and work to bring home another championship trophy, after the girls’ win last year. The boys’ last win was in 2013, when they also took 3rd in the state.


The teams would look like strong competitors if they were running at full strength.  However, Grace Abernethy, 11, who was the top Cougar through the first two races, hasn’t raced since August and Ben Swanson, 12, sat out last week’s meet with a bum knee.  Both are considering running this week and both would drastically change their team’s prospects. No matter what, Abernethy said that “I think the boys have the best shot they’ve had in several years going to state, and the girls have shown a lot of teamwork and improvement this season, so I think they have a good shot as well.”


For the rest of the girls’ squad, things look both solid and shaky.  Madeline Morland, 12, is coming off of her best race finish in high school-a second place at the Spartan Invite, where she lost by a second after closing a 15+ second gap over the last half mile.  Heading into the CSML meet, Morland says, “It’s very gratifying that my hard work over the past four years is paying off. I think that the team is ready to compete and we’ve been working hard and should all peak at the right time!”  She adds about her individual chances at the meet, “I finished tenth last year at this meet and now I think I can be in the top 5!”


For the rest of the girls, Faith Roth, 12, is getting her breathing under control and broke 21 minutes for the first time this season. Ary Mascarenas, 9, is running strong and confident, especially after being the top Cougar at the Salida Invite two weeks ago. Shauna Mackay, 12, is coming off of a two week hiatus caused by travel plans, but is the strongest girl on the team and looks to power through as the girls taper their weightlifting. Avah Houger, 9, will not get to finish out the season, but hopes to be back to her solid performances for the next three years.  The last two spots on the (hopefully) State roster will be filled by two of the three other girls who have been running varsity this season: Julia Semmler, 12, the German exchange student who has been a great boon to the team, Alison Ambuul, 11, who is known more as a sprinter and the fastest girl in the school up to 400 meters plus has a MVP award from track, and Lauren Strizich, 11, who also runs track and has a soccer MVP under her belt.


On the boys’ side, things are looking good!  Z Engstrom, 9, is in the top ten fastest freshmen boys in the state and is really looking sharp as the team works on speed.  Charlie Schroeder, 11, is figuring out the first half of his race and putting himself into strong contention as the last mile wears on.  Ben Hayes-Lemmon, 11, is fighting through both a hip injury and play rehearsal time commitments to some solid personal bests this season.  Eric White, 11, has been closing the gap between himself and the front four. White will be instrumental in the team’s success: every second he cuts and every person he passes lowers our team score and puts us in contention. The remaining two spots are being battled over by Mark Bloomfield, 11, who has really come on strong over the past few week, Wade Rahaman, 12, who has had a real breakout season after being injured last year, and Roman Sorrels, 12, who is taking this season more seriously than any other.  Another runner who will be a factor in the future is Miles Medina, 10, who transferred from St. Mary’s and so has to wait a year to be eligible.

Over the next three weeks, the cougar cross country team will be competing at Metros-Oct 11th in Fountain, Regionals-Oct 18th at Monument Valley Park, and hopefully State-Oct 27th and Bear Creek Regional Park and the Norris Penrose Event Center.


Good luck, CO-RUN-ADO!