Eagles girls, boys qualify for state meet

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Dakota Ridge sends its entire team to 5A race in Colorado Springs

By Michael Hicks

McKenna Spillar and Vanessa Gonzalez got to experience the feeling of going to the 5A state cross country championships last season, but it wasn’t a completely fulfilling trip. That’s because their teammates weren’t with them. That won’t be a problem in 2012.
Led by Spillar’s third-place finish in 18 minutes, 35 seconds, Dakota Ridge placed second as a team — one of five teams eligible to qualify for state — with 65 points at the 5A Region 1 cross country championships at Clement Park on Oct. 18.
Cayli Hume was fifth in 19:29, Gonzalez placed ninth in 19:52, Erin Renner was 21st in 20:22 and Natalie Gonzalez was 27th in 20:37 for the Lady Eagles, resulting in Dakota Ridge’s points.
“We’ve all been geared up for it. We were disappointed last year when we didn’t make it, but we were not going to take no for an answer. We were going to qualify for state no matter what it takes,” Spillar said.
The 5A state championships is Oct. 27 in Colorado Springs.
Arapahoe was first with 48 points, led by Emily Wolff’s meet-winning time of 18:05.
“We were pretty special the last couple of weeks to pull this thing together. At midseason, I was putting in different girls every time. We had all kinds of different things going on with a lot of injuries, lot of sickness,” Dakota Ridge head coach Mark Stenbeck said. “Only in the last two weeks have we put this team completely together. So now we’re rolling. We’ve got a lot of momentum. A lot of young kids are stepping up. I’m super, super proud of my girls.”
Dakota Ridge won’t be the only local school sending a female runner to state. Columbine’s Kiera McKee placed 10th in 19:58 to qualify individually for the first time.
“I’m very happy with what I got,” McKee, who will be making her third appearance at the state meet. “I wanted to individually qualify since the beginning of the season, and I got it.”
They’ll be joined at state by Chatfield’s Kelsi Lawrence, who placed 12th in 20:07, and Littleton’s girls team, which came in third with 98 points. The Lady Lions had three runners in the top 15, led by Magda Van Leeuwen in 11th in 20:06.
Arapahoe, Thornton and Denver East’s boys tied with a regional-best 74 points with the Warriors winning the tiebreaker. Denver East’s Ashi and Cerake Geberkidane finished first and second in 15:13 and 15:17, respectfully.
Dakota Ridge came in fourth with 82 points, led by Carson Hume. He placed fifth in 15:54. Teammate Bradley Carney was 10th with a personal-best time of 16:11.
“It’s amazing. I’m so excited,” Carney said of his team qualifying for state. “We worked hard. We deserve it.”
Chatfield, led by a 22nd-finish from Panos Smyrnios (16:43) and 23rd from Nathan Moore (16:46), just missed qualifying for state, placing sixth with 165 points.