Running on your home course can carry a heavy burden.
“It’s tough because people expect you to do better because you know the course by heart,” said Columbine’s Nikki Funkhauser following her fourth-place finish at the 2009 Jefferson County League Championships on Oct. 16 at Clement Park.
Funkhauser was the top finisher in the Class 5A girls race for the Rebels. She crossed the finish line with a time of 20 minutes, 18.3 seconds.
While the course may be Columbine’s de-facto home course, it’s turned into familiar territory for most of the Jeffco League teams the past few weeks. Most were on hand in late September to race in the Dave Sanders Invitational.
For Funkhauser, the second crack at the Clement Park course proved to be a better experience.
“This was definitely a better race for me (Oct. 16) than the Dave Sanders,” Funkhauser said. “It was a faster pace than last time and I felt better physically, out on the course.”
Funkhauser ran with the lead pack for most of the race, and was neck-and-neck with Dakota Ridge’s Ashley Wamboldt (who finished second), up until the last tenth of a mile.
“She flew down the hill,” Funkhauser said of Wamboldt, who helped guide the Eagles to a second-place finish in the team standings.
As the cross-country season enters its final two weeks, Funkhauser has her eyes set on a pair of goals she’d like to accomplish.
“For regionals, I want to finish top-5 and at state, top-25,” she said. “I think if I run the races I know I’m capable of, I can accomplish my goals.”
The familiarity with the Clement Park course played to Danny Carney’s benefit in the 5A boys race. The Dakota Ridge sophomore adapted to the lightning-quick pace and crossed the finish in third overall with a time of 16:21.2.
“It was definitely nice to run this course before the league meet,” Carney said. “I had a better idea of what I wanted to do at certain points of the race this time as opposed to the last time.”
Right behind Carney was Austin Appel, who took fourth (despite still not feeling 100 percent physically) in 16:32.1, and Jimmy Mohrbacher, who placed sixth in 16:50. The three top-10 finishes gave the Eagles the team title.
“Austin’s very fast. He was right behind me the whole way,” Carney said. “He definitely pushes me to run harder and I know once he gets feeling better he’s going to put up good times at regionals and state.”
Jeffco League Championships
Class 5A Boys
1. Dakota Ridge 44: 3. Danny Carney, 16:21.2; 4. Austin Appel, 16:32.1; 6. Jimmy Mohrbacher, 16:50.3; 13. Will Marino, 17:47.2, 18. Nathan Morrison, 17:57.9.
3. Chatfield 114: 12. Andrew Ormsby, 17:44.7; 20. Cody Brubacker, 18:08.4; 23. Justin Shaver, 18:18.1; 25. Derrick Shaver, 18:19.4; 34. Ben Hobstetter, 18:35.4.
6. Columbine 172: 8. William Kincaid, 17:19.8; 15. Tyler Hudson, 17:49.6; 38. Alexander Armstrong, 18:45.8; 40. Orion Tallmadge, 18:46.9; 41. Nick Bernhardt, 18:47.4.
Class 5A Girls
2. Dakota Ridge 60: 2. Ashley Wamboldt, 19:58.1; 7. Nichole Ceja, 20:27.7; 12. McKenna Spillar, 21:00.5; 13. Amy Franks, 21:03.8; 26. Jessica Tucceri, 22:07.8.
3. Chatfield 78: 6. Samantha Achterberg, 20:25.8; 10. Rachael Lenz, 20:49.8; 19. Rachel Reiling, 21:35.9; 20. Janae Fritze, 21:45.3; 23. Karina Hill, 21:58.2.
5. Columbine 128: 4. Nikki Funkhauser, 20:18.3; 11. Kaylie Haynes, 20:55.7; 30. Haley Swanson, 22:13; 31. Gaby Augustine, 22:21.1; 32. Bethany Gardner, 23:27.6.