COLORADO SPRINGS — It was a sprained ankle that threatened McKenna Spillar’s senior season. But the Dakota Ridge cross country runner, if she had anything to say about it, wasn’t going to let that happen.
Spillar rehabbed the nagging injury until she finally returned to the course a month ago. Then on Oct. 27 at the 5A state championships at the Norris Penrose Event Center — coming off a 5A Jeffco League championship and third-place finish at regionals — Spillar completed her comeback with a seventh-place finish in 19 minutes, 23.2 seconds.
“My goal was to make all-state, and I did,” Spillar said. “I was going to do the best I can and prove to people that I can come back after the injury.”
She finished 1:06.7 back of state champion Heather Bates of Pine Creek, but was just 23.3 seconds behind runner-up Emma Gee of Legacy.
Team-wise, Dakota Ridge (467) and Littleton (538) placed 20th and 21st, respectively. Monarch, with 91 points, held off Fort Collins to win its second straight state title.
Among individual representatives, Columbine’s Kiera McKee completed the course in 20:57.9, while Kelsi Lawrence of Chatfield ran it in 21:28.2.
“It was really exciting,” said Lawrence, a senior competing in her first state championships in only her second year of running. “It means a lot that I can get that much better just from practicing and trying.”
The Eagles’ Carson Hume found out first-hand how challenging the hilly Norris Penrose course is. Still, the Dakota Ridge junior maneuvered his way through the 3.1-mile race in 17:05.3 to finish 14th.
“This is, holy crap, one of the deepest competitions I’ve seen in a long time,” Hume said. “The race was great. Everything I had was out there. I haven’t had a really full-long race yet this season mentally. Today was good.”
Denver East’s Ashi Geberkidane became the school’s first state champion and first all-state runner in 45 years with a winning time of 16:21.7. His brother Cerake took third in 16:38.1. Clayson Shumway of Liberty was sandwiched between them in 16:30.7.
Dakota Ridge’s boys, with five runners in the top 90 in a field of 186, placed eighth with 257 points. Mountain Vista, which finished third in 2010 and second last year, won the 5A title with 103 points. Fairview was second with 116.