Johnson third, Connerton eighth at national trail running championships

Glenwood Springs High School runners Ella Johnson, foreground, and Sophia Connerton, in green top, race at the National High School Trail Championships on Saturday in Salida. Johnson was third overall and Connerton eighth.
Avery Johnson

Ella Johnson finished third at the National High School Trail Championships in Salida on Saturday.

In all, three Glenwood Springs High School girls ran in Salida, finishing fourth out of eight teams. Sophomore Sophia Connerton finished eighth, and freshman Taia Nykerk was 56th out of 72 runners. Johnson, a junior, was less than six seconds behind first-place finisher Joslin Blair from Eagle Valley.

“[Ella] finished third behind two runners who just graduated,” Glenwood Springs High School head cross country coach Justin Baum said.

The race allows participants from incoming freshmen to graduated seniors, making Johnson the top finisher currently in high school.

Because of social distancing precautions, the race was held in waves of about 10 runners based on seed times from previous races. The waves were separated by 30 seconds. Johnson and Connerton started in the second wave and had to work their way up through the previous wave’s runners.

“Mentally that’s a very hard thing to do in a race like that,” Baum said.

Maybe, but Johnson actually liked it that way.

“I actually think the second wave was kind of an advantage for me. I viewed it as an opportunity to chase instead of just trying to be out there and lead on my own,” Johnson said.

Johnson was confident she would have a top finish but was pleasantly surprised by her time.

“I didn’t know my time would be so fast, especially since everyone in the top four broke the previous course record by over a minute,” she said.

The race may foreshadow the fall cross country season.

“[Ella] finished … ahead of Samantha Blair. … Depending on how the season goes, those two would be going at it for a state title,” Baum said. “Sophia did really well, too, with an eight place. I believe she was one of the youngest to finish in the Top 10.”

No Glenwood boys raced.

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