McKenna Spillar could see Pomona’s Alaina Anderson up ahead of her on the 3.1-mile course that is Clement Park, but the Dakota Ridge senior couldn’t be so certain she would catch her. After all, Anderson is widely considered the best cross country runner in the 5A Jeffco League, and rightfully so.
But with each step Spillar took she could see herself getting closer to Anderson. Before long she passed the struggling Pomona runner and found herself leading the pack. Then she saw the finish line. That’s the last little bit of motivation Spillar needed.
She ran the course in 18 minutes, 56 seconds, beating out Olivia Hayden of Lakewood by 18 seconds to win the 5A Jeffco League championship on Oct. 12. It marks the first career cross country victory for Spillar, and it couldn’t have come at a sweeter moment.
“I can’t believe it. I went into the race with the one thing that I want is to win a cross country race before I leave to go to college,” Spillar said. “Sometimes it’s just your day. That’s all I wanted. I’m on top of the world.
Anderson wasn’t able to finish due to an undisclosed injury.
“Honestly, I’m about as happy as when I won state,” Spillar added. She won the 3,200 meters at the 5A state track & field championships last May, beating Anderson by .01 seconds. “Winning isn’t everything, but with a sprained ankle this year I didn’t know what I was going to be able to accomplish.”
A sprained ankle kept Spillar sidelined for the start of the season. But she has recovered in time for the postseason.
Teammate Cayli Hume came in fifth in 19:59, while Vanessa Gonzalez was eighth in 20:21 as Dakota Ridge scored 62 points to take second in the team standings. Ralston Valley, with four finishers in the top 11, won with 57 points. Columbine was led by Kiera McKee, who came in ninth in 20:23, while Chatfield’s top finisher was Kelsi Lawrence, who took 16th in 20:49.
Dakota Ridge male counterpart Carson Hume placed third in 16 minutes, 31 seconds. He was 17 seconds back of league champion Connor Lockwood of Arvada West.
“I’m happy with it,” Hume said.
His finish helped Dakota Ridge’s boys take second to Pomona for the team crown. The Eagles had 49 points. The Panthers, with five runners in the top 12, had 34 points.
The Eagles’ Bradley Carney (17:05), Austin Ard (17:13), and Ryan Cutter (17:16) finished ninth, 10th and 11th, respectively. Chatfield was led by Nathan Moore, who came in 14th in 17:20, while Lucas Leyba led Columbine with a 21st-place finish in 18:05.