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Palmer Ridge claims individual, team titles at Widefield
Eric Hamer felt uncommonly isolated halfway through the Widefield Cross Country Invitational on Friday afternoon.
“You can always feel an energy between runners,” Hamer said. “I thought it was weird that I could not sense Coronado and Air Academy right behind me.”
That’s because they weren’t there. In fact, nobody was there as Hamer, a sophomore, won the race by 17 seconds with his Palmer Ridge teammates, Jordan Deitsch and Nate Mills taking second and third. The Bears also took eighth, ninth and 10th, giving Palmer Ridge six of the top 10 spots in the 11-school, 84-runner event.
Lewis-Palmer’s Nate Rykerd and Jarrett Eller took fifth and sixth to push the Rangers into second place. Air Academy was third.
Ali Deitsch, Jordan’s sister, won the girls’ race as Palmer Ridge took the team title for both genders.
Air Academy’s Olivia Evans took second to lead the Kadets to a second-place team finish. Cañon City took third behind Aubrey Till, who took third individually.
Hamer, Jordan Deitsch and Mills started separating themselves from the pack on the course’s 500-meter-long incline.
“We’ve done a lot of hill repeats so we’ve gotten really confident,” Mills said. “Our general race plan is to take people on the hills because they slow down a little more than is probably necessary.”
That they made their move at that point was no coincidence. Team captain Deitsch and fellow senior Mills had strategized the move. The Palmer Ridge team broke out quickly to avoid a couple of early bottlenecks and then made their move on the first hill, which was about a third of the way through the course.
“I always like to get out before anyone else really wants to warm up, and either walk or jog the course and see what we’re getting into,” Deitsch said. “It was an interesting course; I think it was the terrain that was confusing to most.”
The course snaked its way through the fields, paths and trails surrounding the Widefield Community Center. It featured a broad variety of surfaces and terrain, including two laps up the long, deceptively gradual hill.
“It’s kind of a hidden jewel,” said Widefield coach Erik Nelson, who designed the course. “It’s got lots of great trails and grass and most people don’t even know it’s here, There’s some pretty challenging aspects to the terrain and I tried to incorporate as many of those challenging parts into it as I could.”
For Hamer, making the move that earned him the runaway win came with some trepidation.
“I was thinking that I didn’t want to jump away from this too early but I was feeling confident and I thought I’d just go for it,” Hamer said. “It was tough pacing it.”
It was also a little lonely.