Blues skies and a touch of fall weather greeted thousands of cross country athletes from across the state this past weekend in Lyons. Almost three thousand runners and another few thousand fans came together to cheer on their runners at this year’s 19th annual St. Vrain Cross Country Invitational 5K hosted at Lyons High School.    

The Lyons Lions ran hard on their home course turning in impressive performances across the board. The girls, ranked #1 in 2A, finished 1st in the 2A/3A division, and the boys, ranked 2nd in 2A, finished 2nd in the 2A/3A division to 3A Faith Christian.

The first-place girls’ team put all four scoring runners in the top twenty. Junior Katie Fankhouser, finding her stride after a summer of kayaking around the USA and Canada, placed fourth overall with a time of 20:29. Freshman Quin Gregg was right behind her, placing fifth in 20:37. Senior Kylee Udovich (22:14) finished thirteenth followed by sophomore Hannah Thomas (18th in 22:39). Junior Alora Cross came back a week after turning an ankle to run 24:24, with freshman Katie Roberts (25:30), senior Laura Hickey (25:38), freshman Chloe Els (26:03), and junior Catherine Darrow (27:28) rounding out the race for the Lyons.

Junior Isaac Roberts led the boys’ team, placing third overall with a time of 17:18, followed by juniors Simon Stone (11th in 17:53) and Nick Boggess (19th in 18:34), and senior Colton Jonjak-Plahn was 23rd in 18:45 to round out the scoring members for the team. In the run 7/score 4 format for this meet, junior Jordan Shackelford (28th in 18:55), freshman Arjen Wynja (48th in 19:44, and sophomore Charlie Gau (53rd in 19:52) rounded out the varsity team. Newcomer and junior Harrison Abernathy also broke the 20-minute barrier (60th in 19:59), and was followed in short order by sophomore Nick Parker (21:17), freshman Grant Gau (21:58), junior Felix Sykes (22:02), and sophomores Evan Moore (23:21), Peter Brent (24:27), and Zack Carlstrom (24:27). All the boys ran either season or personal bests in their second 5K of the season.
While times and results in the paper often emphasize the individual performances, for the Lyons Lions, the focus is on the team’s effort. As sophomore Charlie Gau said, “We don’t go and run till exhaustion just for fun, but because we have a team to run for.”  Katie Fankhouser told BoCo Preps she was excited about her younger teammates taking a big step forward this week, and Coach Roberts was very impressed with the way the team handled the whole week of preparation.

“All week, we had the team out helping set up the course, picking up rocks and sticks and running over rough spots all week to smooth out the ground. They all stayed late on Friday night helping with parking, concessions, videoing and finish-line help for the 36 teams and 850 middle schoolers who showed up to race, and we had many of them helping with parking on Saturday morning before they warmed up for their races. After every single person on the team ran a season-best time on Saturday, they stayed afterward and helped pick up the entire course. They’re an amazing group of young people, and additional thanks goes out to their parents, the volleyball, football, and cheerleading teams, and a number of our faculty members and administrators who helped make this another memorable Lyons event.”

The team would also like to acknowledge the St. Vrain Market for sponsoring the event with rubber bracelets offering 10% discounts for fans after the race, and many of the local businesses piggy-backed on this offer with similar discounts and incentives for the meet patrons to encourage them to visit our beautiful town. Meet management hopes to make this an annual tradition.

Next up for the Lions is the RE-1J District Meet at Sunset Golf Course. This meet falls in the middle of homecoming week and includes the middle school teams as well. If you’ve never attended a cross country meet, consider stopping by the Sunset Golf Course to cheer your Lions on! 

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