State cross country: Wagler happy with his finish
COLORADO SPRINGS — Brenden Wagler’s finish at the Class 4A State Championships on Saturday was something he wouldn’t have dreamed of when he first started running cross country.
So that 14th-place finish that the Rifle High school senior got near the base of Cheyenne Mountain? Yeah, that’s pretty special.
“Absolutely,” Wagler said by phone on his way back home from the Front Range. “This was just a great season and a great way for me to finish it.”
Wagler finished the 5-kilometer race in 17 minutes, 25.5 seconds, which wasn’t too bad considering the hot and dry conditions on the course. He admitted, however, that he’d been fighting off some cold symptoms that slowed him down a bit too.
He almost — almost — broke into the Top 10, but the front pack in front of him was too strong.
“That was a pretty strong race,” Wagler said. “There were a lot of guys who were fighting to get into that top 10.”
Winning the state title was Eric Hamer of Palmer Ridge in 16:17.7. There was only a 15-second difference between those who placed No. 7 through 14.
Wagler was the top finisher among competitors from Garfield County high schools. Wagler earlier this week was declared the school record holder for the fastest cross country time, which came in August when he ran a time of 15:52 at the Delta Invitational meet.
One of them, Glenwood Springs high freshman Claudia Hirons, finished in 22:42.1 during her first trip to the state meet.
“She had a goal to finish in the top half,” Glenwood coach Mike Schneider said of Hirons, who finished 93rd in the field of 186. “And she finished right in the middle. What she was really excited about was that she took about two minutes off of her time from the pre-state meet at the beginning of the season.
“And now, she’s already looking forward to next season,” Schneider continued. “This really got her excited about running.”
Winning the 4A title was Kate Rainsberger of Air Academy, who crossed the finish line in 18:50.3.
The biggest contingent from a Garfield County high school came from Coal Ridge, which sent two boys runners and a girls team to state. Coal Ridge senior Noah Crisler was 68th in the boys race in 19:13.3, with his teammate, sophomore Justin Allen, finishing 68th in 19:15.2. Ben Butler of SkyView Academy won the title in 16:18.2.
Mariela Martinez paced the Coal Ridge girls, finishing 89th in 25:06.7. Teammate Molly Mello was right behind in 90th (25:06.8), with Kim Hurtado (126th, 27:12.7), Brittan Bianco (138th, 30:32.4), Maria Contreras (140th, 31:39.4), Natalie Dougherty (143rd, 32:34.2), and Claudia Buchholtz (144th, 32:34.3) following.
Coal Ridge finished, however, at the bottom of the team standings in the 19-team field with 500 points. Alamosa won the team title with 91 points, with Salida (95), and Kent Denver (109) following. Alamosa also won the 3A boys team title convincingly with 60 points, with second-place Frontier Academy finishing with 117.
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The Glenwood Springs-Rifle sports rivalry goes way back for GSHS baseball coach and former Demons multi-sport student-athlete Eric Nieslanik.