Granby " MIddle Park cross country team cuts times but runs into stiff competition |

Granby " MIddle Park cross country team cuts times but runs into stiff competition

Photo by Courtney McCrea

Middle Park High’s top cross-country runner ran into some tough competition at the LoBo Cat Invitational held at Fossil Ridge High School in Fort Collins on Friday, Sept. 26.

Panther sophomore Samantha Berggren finished in ninth place on the Fossil Ridge course, which will be the site of the state championships on Oct. 25.

The Lobo Cat Invitational featured a large field of runners from mostly 4A and 5A division high schools. Middle Park was one of only four 3A teams to race Friday.

Berggren raced the girls 5-kilometer course in a time of 18:55.0. Her ninth-place finish on Friday was the first time in the 2008 season that she did not win first place in a cross country race.

The Lobo Cat’s girls 5K was won by Allie McLaughlin of Air Academy. She outran the field of 205 girls to cross the finish line first with a time of 17:21.8.

Second place was taken by Classical Academy junior Kaitlin Hanenburg with 17:54.3. Hanenburg’s freshman teammate Shelby Stableford placed third with 18:17.7.

“Sam (Berggren) finally had some competition and ran a great race,” said assistant coach Courtney McCrea. “At the one-mile mark, she was running a 5-1/2 minute mile, her fastest yet. Allie McLaughlin was running a 5 minute mile at the mile mark. Sam now knows what she needs to work on before state.”

The race was not only a preview for this year’s state championships, but the first rematch in a cross country race between Middle Park’s top female runner and Classical Academy’s star. During last year’s state championship held in Colorado Springs, Hanenburg won the 3A division title while Berggren finished as the runner-up.

The LoBo Cat was also a chance for Berggren to gauge how much progress she has made in reducing her running time because the Aug. 28 season-opener was also held on the same Fossil Ridge course. In Friday’s race, Berggren ran it one minute, 23 seconds faster then the 20:18 she ran in the first race.

In fact, all of Middle Park’s girls turned in faster times compared to the season-opener a month earlier. Most of them reduced their times by two to three minutes.

The places and times for the Panther girls in the LoBo Cat were: 82. Ryndi Zastrow, 21:28.3; 126. Sam Miyauchi, 22:22.6; 144. Hannah Garca, 23:17.0; 146. Jessica Bondi, 23:19.7; 172. Melissa Plum, 24:18.5; 178. Kelly Little, 24:48.4.

In the team results, Middle Park’s girls placed 20th out of 34 teams. Classical Academy won first place, followed by Greeley Central for second and Highlands Ranch for third.

In the boys 5K results last Friday, Joseph Manilafasha of North High School raced to victory. He outran the field of 219 boys to win the LoBo Cat with a time of 15:17.3.

As their female teammates did in their race, Middle Park’s boys also significantly reduced their running times Friday compared to their first results on the same course on Aug. 28.

The places and times for the Panther boys at the LoBo Cat were: 156. Nathanial Ziegler, 19:12.7; 180. Hugh McDonough, 20:09.9; 184. Matt Naschak, 20:19.3; 186. Jared Cooper, 20:24.9; 193. Matt Curran, 20:39.7; 210. Nick O’Connor, 22:57.8.

“All of their times improved from when they ran the pre-state meet a month ago on the same course,” McCrea said. “Hugh McDonough really stepped up and ran a great race, finishing as our second boy.”

In the team results, Middle Park’s boys finished 29th out of 34 teams. Fairview won it with Niwot taking second and Falcon third.

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