COLORADO SPRINGS | Regis Jesuit’s Isalina Colsman learned lessons about running in the Class 5A girls state cross country race last season that she put into practice Saturday in her return.
The Raiders’ sophomore got off to a comfortable — but not crazy fast — start at the Norris Penrose Equestrian Center, maintained her position and finished strong in a well-executed run that earned her All-State first team honors and a spot in the program recordbooks.
Colsman moved up 10 spots in the standings from 2016 with a seventh-place finish that put her on the medal podium, which also included Grandview junior Kaitlyn Mercer with her 10th-place finish among Aurora competitors.
“It was really exciting, it was really fun and amazing to be in the top 10,” said Colsman, who was 17th last season.
“When I was up there, I was just in awe. I was like ‘What am I doing up here? Wow!'”
Colsman reached the podium — the first time for a Regis Jesuit girls runner — with a race Raiders’ coach Andrew Drysdale couldn’t find any fault with.
“Isalina was always within herself, there was never any panic or anxiety, she knew what she was doing the whole race,” Drysdale said. “While some other girls fell off, she ran her race and didn’t let anybody else dictate what she was going to do.
“She ran a smart race and the showed that her intelligence on the race course has blossomed this year.”
Colsman said she got caught up overthinking the start of the state race last season and it put her in the back of the pack off the starting line. She still managed to work her way up through the field to finish 17th, which was a place higher than Julia Vitella finished in 2013 as the previous program best.
With a much better start this time, Colsman got into favorable position from the beginning, navigated the challenge of the water crossing that came just before the run up into the stadium for the finish line and crossed the finish line in 18 minutes, 27.5 seconds, to easily better last season’s 19:28.18.
“I just felt a lot more confident this year; I think I ran a lot smarter this race and tried not to take it out too fast,” she said. “It was just a perfect day to be running and I was having a good day too I guess.”
Mercer became the third different Grandview runner to make the top-10 medal podium in the past three years, joining graduated Brie Oakley (the 2015 5A runner-up and 2016 state champion) and senior Caroline Robbins (sixth last season).
As a junior, Mercer — the winner of the Aurora city meet and Centennial League champion — improved by 30 spots from her 2016 season and is a very long way from the 101st-place finish she posted as a freshman.
Mercer entered the stadium behind Rocky Mountain’s Julia Schlepp and Cherokee Trail junior Caitlin McConnell and while she couldn’t get past Schlepp, she got in front of McConnell to grab the 10th and final medal podium spot.
“Coming up the hill, I was 11th behind Caitlin and I really wanted to get 10th, so I just decided to pass her,” said Mercer, who finished in 18:40.1 in a vast improvement over last season’s 20:17.39.
“My goal going into this season was to make top 10, so I got that,” she added.
McConnell’s Cougars got the better of Mercer’s Wolves in the team chase, however.
Cherokee Trail had top-five aspirations following wins in the Centennial League Championships and Region 2 meet but coach Josh Tate’s team scored 266 points at the state meet to edge Coronado by two points for 11th place.
McConnell led the way for the Cougars, while sophomore Soonhee Han (57th), junior Kyra Stevenson (64th), sophomore Tarikwa Woldemariam (82nd) and freshman Campbell Faust (113th) rounded out the scoring.
On their way to a 13th-place team finish, the Wolves got a nice boost from Mercer and senior Caroline Robbins was next across the line in 66th. Robbins finished sixth at last season’s state meet — won by graduated Grandview star Brie Oakley — but went through an injury-plagued senior season.
Junior Denika Hallin (88th), sophomore Anna Swanson (90th) and sophomore Chloe Inhelder (134th) also scored for the Wolves.
Smoky Hill junior Amelia Johannes ran at state individually for the third time and finished 95th.
Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel
2017 CLASS 5A STATE CROSS COUNTRY (GIRLS)
Oct. 28 at Norris Penrose Equestrian Center
Team scores: 1. Mountain Vista 64 points; 2. Broomfield 92; 3. Rock Canyon 164; 4. Rocky Mountain 170; 5. Fairview 189; 6. Arvada West 190; 7. Cherry Creek 217; 8. Rampart 222; 9. Monarch 228; 10. Boulder 242; 11. CHEROKEE TRAIL (Caitlin McConnell, Soonhee Han, Kyra Stevenson, Tarikwa Woldemariam, Campbell Faust, Abby Snogren, Elyse Bartelmey) 266; 12. Coronado 268; 13. GRANDVIEW (Kaitlyn Mercer, Caroline Robbins, Denika Hallin, Anna Swanson, Chloe Inhelder, Chloe Cortes, Emily Martenson) 318; 14. Dakota Ridge 321; 15. Fossil Ridge 337; 16. Denver East 402; 17. Arapahoe 429; 18. Heritage 443; 19. Legacy 460; 20. Loveland 521
Top 10 individuals: 1. Jenna Fitzsimmons (Mountain Vista), 18 minutes, 10.3 seconds; 2. Caroline Eck (Mountain Vista), 18:16.4; 3. Claudia Burgess (Boulder), 18:16.6; 4. Ivy Gonzales (Broomfield), 18:20.3; 5. Stephanie Carrasco (Thornton), 18:21.5; 6. Sarah O’Sullivan (Mountain Vista), 18:26.1; 7. ISALINA COLSMAN (REGIS JESUIT), 18:27.5; 8. Kyla Ramsey (Rampart), 18:33.9; 9. Julia Schlepp (Rocky Mountain), 18:39.5; 10. KAITLYN MERCER (GRANDVIEW), 18:40.1
Other Aurora individuals: 11. Caitlin McConnell (Cherokee Trail), 18:40.9; 57. Soonhee Han (Cherokee Trail), 19:48.2; 64. Kyra Stevenson (Cherokee Trail), 19:57.9; 66. Caroline Robbins (Grandview), 19:59.9; 82. Tarikwa Woldemariam (Cherokee Trail), 20:10.6; 88. Denika Hallin (Grandview), 20:15.4; 90. Anna Swanson (Grandview), 20:17.6; 95. Amelia Johannes (Smoky Hill), 20:22.3; 113. Campbell Faust (Cherokee Trail), 20:36.0; 131. Abby Snogren (Cherokee Trail), 20:52.3; 134. Chloe Inhelder (Grandview), 20:58.3; 137. Chloe Cortes (Grandview), 21:06.7; 138. Elyse Bartelmey (Cherokee Trail), 21:07.8; 148. Emily Martenson (Grandview), 21:28.9