By McCourt Thomas
The Lyons Lions girls cross country team, ranked #1 all season, fulfilled their destiny and won first place in the 2A State Championship race, the second state title in school history, and the Lyons boys took home second place in an exciting conclusion to the 2018 cross country season.
In the girls’ race, with two former champions in the race, Chloe Veilleux from Soroco in 2016, and Helen Cross from Nederland in 2017, the individual battle was a toss-up going into the race, but the girls from Lyons decided
they’d have something to say about the outcome this year. Junior Katie Fankhouser and freshman Quin Gregg were 15 seconds back of the leaders at the mile, and they patiently reeled in the field until they were the side-by-side leaders with one kilometer to go. The viewing stands of the Norris-Penrose center in Colorado Springs erupted into cheers as first Katie, and then Quin, entered the stadium for a 1-2 Lyons finish. Fankhouser ran a personal best time of 19:24 to join Miriam Roberts as a Lyons’ girl individual state champion (and she’ll have the opportunity to add another next year!) and Gregg placed second with her personal best time of 19:36 (and may have something to say herself about that state title). Sophomore Hannah Thomas rounded out the scoring in 12th place with her personal best time of 21:09 and was closely followed by senior Kylee Udovich in 19th place with a season best of 21:42. Finishing out the championship effort by the Lyons were junior Alora Cross at 23:09 and senior Jewel Thomas with a season-best time of 23:27. With 2A scoring the top three, it’s worth noting that the Lions would have claimed the team title with any combination of their top four runners, as their 15 point total was well below the second place total of 43 points for Platte Canyon. Fankhouser and Gregg earned All-State honors while Thomas and Udovich garnered Honorable Mention All-State recognition. Lyons junior Catherine Darrow took advantage of the opportunity to compete in the 3-kilometer unified race and was the first girl to cross the finish line in the co-ed event with a time of 14:02!
The boys’ team battled hard to earn the runner-up trophy and second place behind a senior-dominated Heritage Christian team. Junior Isaac Roberts led the Lions’ effort placing third overall in 16:36. Senior Colton Jonjak-Plahn finished strong in 14th place with a season-best time of 17:53. Then came the Lyons pack of juniors, led by Simon Stone who returned from injury for the state meet to come in at an 18:44, followed closely by Nick Boggess running 18:48, Jordan Shackelford finishing in 18:54, and Harrison Abernathy with a 19:26. Isaac Roberts earned his third consecutive All-State honor, and Colton Jonjak-Plahn was Honorable Mention All-State for the second year in a row.
Since moving into the 2A classification in 2010, the Lyons’ boys have finished either 1st (5 times) or 2nd (4 times) over the past nine years. The girls have been 4th (once), 3rd (twice), 2nd (4 times), and 1st (twice). Looking ahead to 2019, both teams return a strong nucleus of underclassmen, and have some promising young talent waiting in the wings and coming up from the middle school program. The team and coaching staff would like to thank the four seniors, Colton Jonjak-Plahn, Kylee Udovich, Jewel Thomas, and Laura Hickey, along with their parents, for all their positive contributions to our program. They will be dearly missed!