Runners give all at state

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By Brian Forbes

FORT COLLINS — Austin Appel clutched his knees, gasped in the sun and spit the remnants of the stuff in his mouth that had recently crept up the old food pipe.

So with that vivid of a picture, it’s no surprise the Dakota Ridge junior didn’t mince words when asked to describe his 14th-place finish Nov. 7 at the Class 5A state cross-country championships at Fossil Ridge High School.

“It was one of my worst races of the season,” Appel said. “I don’t know … I’ve been sick for a while, but I felt even worse today.”

There is no playoff bracket, no consolation round, no timeouts and really no mercy in this annual race. Instead, it’s anywhere from 15 to 23 minutes of running blind through invisible barriers of pain, dizziness, fatigue and voices that try to present your legs with an airtight case for stopping.

For Appel, you can add frustration to that list of ailments.

When this race was supposed to be run the weekend prior, Appel ran a personal record in the 2-mile after learning the race was postponed due to snow. That triumph was trumped by his body on Nov. 7.

Those things didn’t seem to stop Columbine’s William Kincaid, who led local runners with an 11th-place finish and a time of 16 minutes, 18.39 seconds. Appel ran a 16:26.49, while Dakota Ridge teammate Danny Carney placed 16th overall with a time of 16:28.74.

The Eagles had the highest team finish, as they placed 10th with 282 points. Senior Jimmy Mohrbacher placed 68th, sophomore Ryan Kramlich was 79th and junior Nate Morrison finished 105th. Also running for the Columbine boys was Tyler Hudson, who placed 118th.

Chargers beat Dakota’s pack

A week after training in the slush and snow, runners got to compete in the dust and the heat at state. Add to that a flat course that offers no downhill breaks, and you’ve got punishment dealt in spades.

Of course, for those that did physically win their trek, it was very rewarding.

“It was definitely tough out there,“ Dakota Ridge’s Nicole Ceja said. “I felt good for the most part, I moved up a lot. I think our team did really well.”

And what was the Eagles’ philosophy?

“Our main goal was to pack,” Ceja said of her 55th-place finish, combined with teammates Ashley Wamboldt (57th) and McKenna Spillar (85). “The top three pack. And to just go out there and have fun. We didn’t really have any expectations.”

So the Eagles must have been pleased to finish 17th in the 24-team field. The Eagles, who included Amy Franks and Jessica Tucceri, scored 444 points, which was good, but not as good as rival Chatfield.

Behind sophomore Rachael Lenz, who placed 37th with a time of 19:54.67, the Chargers placed 16th with a score of 440. Sammy Acterberg placed 66th for the Chargers, while Rachel Reiling was 68th, Karina Hill was 132nd and Jessica Schultz was 139th.

Columbine senior Haley Swanson showed her determination in her lip, which she had bitten to the point of bleeding while running.

“This wasn’t one of my better races,” Swanson said. “You got to push through the pain. Sometimes you can feel that you’re strong and that you can compete. It’s really intimidating when someone is really far in front of you and you can’t catch up.”

Junior Nikki Funkhauser led the squad with a 56th-place finish. Kaylie Haynes placed 104th, Bri Stevens was 112th, Gabriela Augustin was 153rd and Swanson was 166th with a time of 22:16.67.