Pine Creek gets win, place, show at Titan Thunder Invite
TCA third in both cross country races
FOUNTAIN – Between the two races at Saturday’s Brooks/TCA Titan Thunder Invitational, Pine Creek cross country runners produced – in horse racing terms – a win, a place and a show.
Eagles junior Caleb Ingram, easily a dark horse based on his 76th-place finish at the same race a year ago, produced the jaw-dropping performance of the day, winning the boys’ overall title with a time that seemed to defy comprehension.
“It’s been a good year for me,” Ingram said. “I have weird breakthroughs every year.”
This isn’t your normal breakthrough; his winning time of 16 minutes, 16 seconds was a staggering 2:03 better than his performance exactly one year earlier on the same course at Fountain Creek Regional Park.
He admits he’s the same runner physically, that he didn’t train any harder during previous offseason workouts.
“It’s mental,” Ingram said. “All mental. I don’t know how else to describe it. My teammate Zach (Alhamra) was ahead of me a few weeks ago, and I decided I wasn’t going to lose to him anymore. My main focus has been keeping up with him, and it’s worked so far.”
Ingram and Alhamra finished one-three, sandwiching TCA junior Conner Wilburn.
Pine Creek senior Heather Bates produced a runner-up finish in the girls’ race, trailing only Fort Collins senior Erin Hooker, who claimed the event’s overall title for the third straight year.
In addition, three of Bates’ teammates finished in the top 10, giving Pine Creek a second-place team finish behind Fort Collins, which had its three-year run of 5A state titles snapped last year.
“We stepped up to the challenge and proved we belong with great teams like Fort Collins,” said Pine Creek sophomore Kaleigh Kroeker, who finished fifth, followed by twins Gabrielle and Katherine Sered, who finished eighth and ninth, respectively. “We were there with them.”
Added Bates: “This was a good checkpoint for our team, how we compare. We definitely learned a lot, and we’re excited to improve going into the championship part of the season.”
As far as sizing up overall team efforts at the halfway point of the cross country season, no one was grinning more than TCA coach Alan Versaw, who saw both his teams exceed expectations.
In the first year competing in 4A, the Titans finished third in both team races – their girls outscoring such schools as Air Academy and Palmer, while the boys topped Pine Creek and Air Academy, among others.
“This was a really good performance for us, and I think we’re a little ahead of where I thought we’d be right now,” Versaw said. “Having teams like Fort Collins and Pine Creek raises the level of the game. We really wanted to have a good effort, and we got it.”