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Cross country could be path to lead country


Tiya Chamberlin, a junior captain on the Wheat Ridge girls cross country team, has a suggestion for politicians to help relieve the current turmoil in Washington, D.C.

“I think what would calm all the politicians is if they would just go for a 30-minute run every day,” explained Chamberlin. “They would just relax, use up all their energy and then they would be able to think clearly.”

It seems cross country running provides a means to socialize and communicate. Going on long runs during practice can be lonely if a runner is all alone, so running with teammates is a way to talk and create friendships.

“As far a running with your teammates in practice, it is such a bonding experience,” added Chamberlin. “I’ve had some of the best conversations on runs with people. It seems to just open people up. It’s so special.

“Cross country is one of the most social sports, unlike soccer or football, which are politically involved and you are sort of bad-mouthing the other team. You can’t have anything but respect for somebody to run a 5K and beat you. You know how hard that is. It’s black and white. There are no coaches deciding who is the better player. The finish line is what talks.”

Rock Canyon senior Chris Theodore and sophomore Easton Allred were the first runners to cross the finish line during the Continental League championships held Oct. 11, with Allred edging Theodore towards the end.

At the 5A Region 5 state qualifying championships on Oct. 19, Theodore and Allred were again first and second, but this time Theodore won by .25 of a second over his teammate.

“We really push each other,” said Theodore. “I’m happy if my teammate can beat me if it helps our team. There’s a really nice environment going on. Cross country is really social, especially on a team basis.

“When you run in practice you are running with people working just as hard and working for the same goal. When you’re out there by yourself it is kind of no fun. You can’t express yourself. Going on those long runs you can talk about whatever you want.”

Teammates become like members of the family, and often top competitors are best friends.

Chamberlin claims most of the fun athletes have is after a race, and many runners hope to be feeling joyous following the state cross country championships, which will be held Oct. 28 at the Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs.

The Penrose course at 6,119 feet has been redesigned and the big Willis Hill no longer is part of the course. It is one of the toughest in the state for high school competitors. The course still has bridge crossings, rolling hills and a creek crossing before the finish line.

“You just go on adrenaline and the competition really fuels you and all the other good girls that are running around you,” said Mountain Vista Junior Caroline Eck. “There was a really big hill the year before my freshman year but there is still a decent sized hill, but not really as big as the one before. There is a water crossing at the very end. At that point, though, you are so very close to the finish that you have all the possible motivation that you could.

“There is definitely a different vibe going into the state meet,” she added. “You know all the people around you are just going to make you better. You can visualize crossing the finish line and that really helps.

“You have to mentally prepare for every race. One thing we do on our team is try to have fun with each other and focus on why we are doing it and not necessarily all the pressure and outside factors that there are and mentally just getting into the zone. You just want to really enjoy things with your teammates.”

Soccer meet and greet

A soccer meet and great with United States women’s soccer stars Morgan Brian and Tobin Heath is scheduled for Oct. 30 between 4:30-7:30 p.m. at the South Suburban Sports Dome at 6959 S. Peoria St. in Centennial.

Brian, a 2015 World Cup champion and midfielder on the U.S. national team, and Heath, another U.S. national midfielder and two-time Olympic gold medalist, will run drills with local youths, host a question and answer session, sign autographs and pose for pictures.

Jim Benton is a sports writer for Colorado Community Media. He has been covering sports in the Denver area since 1968. He can be reached at jbenton@coloradocommunitymedia.com or at 303-566-4083.


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