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Roth leads Coronado boys to 4A state title
Cougars girls place second
Bailey Roth slipped, then slipped again and in so doing watched the 4A boys’ cross country state individual championship slip away.
But while Roth had to settle for second place individually, he and his Coronado teammates made no such concession in the team competition as the Cougars claimed their first state title since 1995.
All five of Coronado’s scoring runners finished in the top 10 percent of the 224 competitors with Dan Egger taking 11th followed by Andres Petrucci (18th), Adam Egger (19th) and Schuyler Vandersluis (22nd).
“They did a great job, didn’t collapse under pressure and this really puts a beautiful cap on a tough season after that fire,” Coronado coach Doug Hugill said. “I’m just elated.”
He was also elated with the Cougars’ girls’ team, led by 13th-place sophomore Gabby Roth, which took second to The Classical Academy on Saturday at Norris-Penrose Event Center and Bear Creek Regional Park.
At the front of the 4A boys’ pack, it became a two-runner race between Roth and Ponderosa’s Eli Hemming as they ran nearly stride for stride through 2.5 miles. At that point, the runners came off a steep decline, crossed a stream and immediately transitioned into a sharp incline with some treacherous footing.
And that’s where the trouble began. Hemming took the lead just before they reached the stream.
“He hopped right on my shoulder but he slipped a little bit at the water crossing,” said Hemming, a senior and former triathlete who was running in his first state meet. “It’s pretty slippery right there.”
Having lost his rhythm, Roth then struggled with the incline, particularly in a stretch where the dirt was deep and powdery.
“We were battling it out but when we got to the creek, he got over it just fine and I lost my footing,” Roth said. “Then I slipped again on the uphill.”
Having to restart twice in the final stretch became too big an obstacle to overcome as Roth (16 minutes, 40.7 seconds) ended up finishing 10.3 seconds behind Hemming (16:30.4) and had to fight off a challenge over the final 100 yards from Windsor’s Justin Weinmeister.
Hemming said being the first one to cross the creek was to his benefit.
“I tried to take the fastest line I could; I knew he was right behind me,” he said. “I have to think it was a disadvantage to go into that blind.”
A Class 3A champion in Georgia a year ago, Roth was visibly disappointed that he hadn’t matched the feat in his new home state. He and his family moved to Colorado in early July, just days after fire had swept through the neighborhoods where many of his new classmates lived.
Given a chance to reflect, his mood softened and a smile crossed his face.
“I’ve never been a part of such a great team,” he said. “Everybody is there to push me no matter if it’s the second guy or the fifth guy.”
That kind of depth is what makes a state champion.