What has transpired in the last three years that has enabled the Telluride cross-country team to go from obscurity to eminence? According to coach Keith Hampton, a lot of hard work.
After the track and field season ended last spring, Hampton met with his runners. “We looked ahead and thought, honestly, that this was a team that could be State Champions. But we knew we’d have to do a few things to get there.”
As a result the Telluride High School cross country team (comprised of runners from Telluride and Norwood), embarked upon a rigorous summer training program; the goal being for each runner to run 300 miles by the time school started.
Their hard work paid off tremendously last weekend, as the boys team raced to the top of the leader board at the 2A State Meet held in Aurora. Not only did this relatively unknown team take the State Champ title, they also crushed the previous 2A team record, scoring 15 points. Their closest competition, Lyons, finished with 38 points.
NHS runner Ty Williams propelled his team to their hefty State Meet title thanks to his first-place finish with a time of 16:48.5. He says the race started fast (he finished his first mile in just four minutes, 55 seconds,) and although at least one other runner managed to keep up with him to the top of the first hill, he kept a pace throughout the rest of the race that no one could follow.
Williams’ first-place finish was only part of Telluride’s winning equation. Two of his teammates, Colten Rogers and Nathan Loomis, finished in the top ten; Rogers in sixth (17:53.4) and Loomis in eighth (17:57.2.) The depth of the Telluride boys squad was evidenced by the fact that even if Loomis or Rogers hadn’t finished, Telluride still would have been first place on the team rankings thanks to Gabe Torres, who finished 23rd (19:06.2.) In cross-country, team scores are based on each team’s top finishing three runners.
“I’m proud of the team – it was really the first time I’ve gotten to experience the team aspect in cross-country,” Williams said of the boys team, which also included Cameron Bowman who finished 37th (19:49.60.)
Telluride’s girls also followed through with a gutsy performance at State, with its three runners Rachel Hampton, Josephine Bush and Jessie Hild racing to fifth place as a team. Individually, Hampton earned her second All-State designation with a seventh place finish (20:11.1,) while Bush and Hild each posted personal best times to take 14th and 37th, respectively (21:23.1 and 23:32.6.)
According to Coach Hampton, a strong work ethic is what it takes for runners to break out of the pack and play a part in building top-ranking teams. In addition to the 300 miles runners were encouraged to complete over the summer, THS’ cross-country athletes did morning runs three to four times a week and also trained every Sunday throughout the fall running season – in addition to their five-times weekly practices with the team.
“As they went through the season they really started to believe in themselves… And when they started to believe, they started pushing each other even harder. In running, you can go through the motions: You can show up, run the mileage, but there’s really no substitute for hard work. At the end of the day it’s all about conditioning, and if you’ve put in the time and pushed yourself. They did that,” Hampton said.