State XC course plays to Glenwood harrier Ella Johnson’s strengths in top-5 showing |

State XC course plays to Glenwood harrier Ella Johnson’s strengths in top-5 showing

A slow, strategic pace set by the lead pack to begin the Class 4A girls state cross country race Saturday in Colorado Springs played right into the feet of Glenwood Springs sophomore Ella Johnson.

The Demons harrier, who along with freshman Sophia Connerton-Nevin has been piecing together a solid fall season race by race, hung with the lead pack and worked her strengths to finish fifth with a time of 18:37.4.

Connerton-Nevin, Glenwood’s only other representative at the state championships held at the Norris Penrose Event Center, crossed the finish line in 19:19.8 to place 16th overall.

“I didn’t really know what to expect with the course, but I went with lead pack see where it would take me,” Johnson said Sunday, reflecting back on her first state meet experience.

“I like going out slower and working up to that faster pace. And the hills are usually my strong area, so having those hills on the course helped me out while it was hard for some of the other runners.”

Glenwood coach Justin Baum said both Johnson and Connerton-Nevin ran impressive races. Connerton-Nevin led the race for a while before fading, and Johnson just waited for her opportunity to secure the top-five spot, he said.

“By about a mile and half, there’s a good downhill, and it really started to string out, and Ella responded really well,” Baum said. “The course is really set up to her strength with the rolling hills, and she’s a strength runner.”

Going to state as a freshman and placing in the top 20 was a great experience for Connerton-Nevin — something that will pay dividends for both young runners next season, Baum said.

“It’s definitely a slower course than they’re used to, but it was a fast day,” he said.

Basalt’s Sierra Bower had the fastest girls time of the day out of all classifications, winning the 3A championship in 18 minutes flat. Johnson’s time would have placed her second in that race, and was the same as the fifth-place time in the 5A race.

Niwot’s Samrawit Dishon won the 4A title with a time of 18:11.9, followed by Eagle Valley’s Blair sisters, Samantha in second (18:15.1) and Joslin in third (18:27.9).

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