Proving Hampton correct, THS’ young cross-country runners sped to remarkable finishes at last weekend’s Colorado State 2A cross-country championships, with Norwood High School sophomore and Team THS runner Ty Williams living up to his No. 1 ranking by taking the 2009 2A boys title.
As a freshman at the State Championships last year, Williams placed 19th. He knew he had to log a lot of training hours before this competitive season started, he said, if he was going to climb into contending position in 2009.
“I put in some really good training over the summer, and worked hard this fall, and that’s what gave me the edge,” said Williams this week.
Williams deserved winning the 2009 boys 2A cross-country title, says coach Hampton. “The work he did over the summer is what you have to do if you want to be successful.
“He was seeded first this season, so put himself in good position to win,” Hampton added.
On race day, Williams toed the start line with two other State Championship contenders, Eric Lewis of Center and Joel Gomez of Mancos, who both kept pace with Williams throughout the first mile, representing a higher level of competition than Williams has seen this season.
“All year long, Ty’s been able to break away early,” Hampton says.
Gomez stayed with Williams as he made a move around the mile mark, leaving Lewis behind. It was a heated back-and-forth between Gomez and Williams up until a half-mile to go, at which point Williams made his final lethal attack.
“I could tell [Gomez] was hurting, so I started pushing the pace. He was out of gas,” Williams recounts.
Williams ended up crossing the finish line in a blazing 16:34.90, with no other runner in sight – a pretty impressive feat, especially for a sophomore says Hampton. “It’s a good sign that he could be dominating in 2A for years to come,” he says.
Also racing to a commendable State finish was THS freshman runner Rachel Hampton (coach Hampton’s daughter). Hampton’s final time of 19:46 not only represented a huge personal record for this young runner; it was also fast enough to put her near the top of the 2A girls’ pack at fourth place overall – and the seventh-fastest time of the day for all girl runners from all divisions.
“She was right in there with all of the State’s best runners, which is a very strong group,” her father and coach said.
“I was ranked tenth in the state going into it, but my dad thought I could run a lot faster than that. So we made a game plan,” Hampton says, noting their plan was to get her into a contending position near the front of the pack early on, and see what happened next.
Hampton was indeed in a dominating position for much of the race, even moving into second place at one point. Crossing the finish line in fourth represented a major feat, which Hampton hopes to repeat next year, she says.
Also flying the Telluride banner at the State meet were other THS freshman girl runners Jesse Hild and Ryan Niebruegge, who finished in the top half (in 26th and 50th places, respectively), putting Telluride’s girls in fifth place as a team.
Meanwhile, the boys couldn’t field the required three-man team for State, since third THS runner Colten Rogers (who was ranked in the top ten in the state) was out with an injury. NHS’ Gabe Torres raced to a strong 17th place overall.
“The future of THS track is definitely bright,” admits coach Hampton, noting that he looks forward to having a full, healthy team for next year’s State Championships. “Both our girls and our boys teams could be contenders.”
OHS Runners Break PR’s at 2009 State Championships
“Everyone saved their best for the State meet,” says OHS cross-country coach Bernie Pearce of the eight Ouray and Ridgway runners who qualified for the State Championships this year. Jake Link, Nakoa Martinez, Ricky Kuboske, Steven Duce, and Halli Benasutti all set new personal records at last weekend’s 2009 State meet, while all eight of the team’s qualified runners ran their season-best.
The boys, led by Link, who finished in 16th place overall with a time of 18:13.70, finished in eighth place overall as a team. The girls team, comprised of Benasutti, Taylor Shoenebaum, and Stephanie Ficco, all came in under the 23-minute mark to finish ninth as a team.
“This year's squad is a testament to the value of hard work in practice governing performance in the meets. It's a simple equation of concerted effort equaling successful outcome,” Pearce said.