Long course is early season cross-country challenge

Vista Nation XC Two-Mile Invitational sees record by boy runner

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Harrison Witt was zealous after winning the boys race at the Vista Nation XC Two-Mile Invitational meet on Aug. 28, while girls winner Taylor Whitfield was more reserved after her victory.

Witt, a senior at Mountain Vista High School in Highlands Ranch, ran the two-mile cross country course on the Mountain Vista campus in 9:34 to break the course record of 9:53 set by Valor Christian's Cole Sprout.

“I felt I ran great,” said Witt. “We had a lot of good preparation, a lot of good workouts. On the second lap I ran by some of our fans and it was pretty cool to hear their voices and help me to think about why I race.

“It was a course record time by 15 or 20 seconds. That's pretty cool. We do a lot of our workouts on this course so I know it pretty well.”

Whitfield had a 10-second margin over second-place Emma Stutzman of Pomona with a winning time of 11:27 in the girls race on an overcast day with a light rain falling.

“It went good,” said Whitfield. “Me and my teammates worked together the whole race. The conditions were great. We were so grateful it wasn't hot. We started strong, attacked the hills and we were running with everything we had because you don't know how long it will last.

“Going up that last hill I was saying: `You gotta go, and remember your teammates are right behind you.' They were doing their best and pushing through pain so I can do it for them.”

Valor Christian won the team title in the girls competition with 20 points. Mountain Vista was second with 51 points followed by Regis Jesuit, Niwot and Broomfield to round out the top five teams.

Jocelyn Millican of Valor Christian finished third in the individual race while teammates Lanie Szuch was fourrh, Suvina Heidt fifth and Valor's Brooke Wilson seventh.

Mountain Vista had three girl runners finish among in the top 10, with Shayda Zarrin in sixth place, Annie Romalia ninth and Shantell Hatner 10th.

Witt helped Mountain Vista to a first-place finish in the boys team standings with 40 points. Chaparral was second with 71 points while Rock Canyon ran third, Dakota Ridge fourth and Valor Christian fifth.

In the boys individual race, Vista's Jayden Nats was fourth. George Maldonado III of Chaparral was fifth with teammate Brennan Draper sixth. Robert Scott of Rock Canyon was seventh, Owen Nolan of Mountain Vista eighth and Valor's Ty Garnett ninth.

The two-mile course is used a lot in early season races as runners get tuned up for the 5,000 km or 3.1 mile courses that are used during the regular and post-season races.

“For sure this race helps for the rest of the season,” said Whitfield. “This course is really hilly so it takes a lot endurance-wise to get up the hills and is good preparation for running an extra mile. And it was good practice for racing together after not racing for so long.”

Mountain Vista coach and meet director Jonathan Dalby was impressed by Witt's performance.

“Harrison ran a great race,” he said. “The time was impressive because he was out there running for his teammates, not for himself. Over the past five months Harrison has put the team goals in front of his individual goals. As a result, he has set himself up to have a successful senior year.”

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