LYONS — Niwot runners Sean Stewart and Colin Harris finished third and fourth, respectively, in the Class 4A/5A section of the St. Vrain Cross Country Invitational on Saturday at Lyons High School to lead the team to a second place finish.
The top five runners for each team score and the Cougars tied Mountain View for first place with 64 points. However, Mountain View won the team title by virtue of its No. 6 runner finishing ahead of Niwot’s No. 6.
The course surrounding Lyons High School crested the steep climb behind the school before a downhill section that gave runners a chance to fight for the lead.
“If you take it easy on the hill,” Stewart said, “it’ll pay you back. After you hit the downhill, you can pretty much just sprint, so it comes down to whoever has the most guts.”
Although the Niwot teammates did not have enough left to catch top finisher Bryan Eicher of Broomfield, Stewart found Harris had more for the finish than he expected.
“He’s a big surprise,” Stewart said. “He’s made up an immense amount of time. He used to be a good minute behind me, and now he’s right behind me.”
The Niwot girls used a pack strategy to take the hill and finish fourth as a team. The Cougars’ highest finisher was Emily Landblom at 16th, but none of their top five runners finished below 30th, keeping Niwot’s team score low.
“We are doing really well with group running,” Landblom said. “We’re better at being all together. We have a lot of strong runners.”
Skyline freshman Haley Marriott had no group to guide her, but she managed a 15th place finish in her second meet ever.
“Mostly, people when they saw the hill, they just gave up,” she said. “On the downhill stretch, everyone was going all out. That was probably the coolest part.”
Skyline finished seventh as a team, but Marriott’s time of 23:14 was 2 minutes, 7 seconds off the leader, giving her plenty of time to catch up over the next four years.
Andrew Roberts was another top freshman finisher. Roberts finished third in the 3A section to lead Lyons.
He said the familiarity with the course helped him keep pace with first-place finisher Riley Weber of Valley and runner-up Trevor Waliszewski from The Classical Academy.
“I’ve got to work to catch those guys,” Roberts said. “You get used to training on this course up here and you know the tough spots where you have to push harder. Knowing the blind spots is a huge advantage.”
Roberts finished 21 seconds off the lead with a time of 18:15.
The varsity races at the 3A and 4A/5A level, although not showcasing all the talent racing this season, was a preview to the regional meets and gave runners an idea of what to expect in the coming weeks.
For Stewart, it was a reminder of what it meant to be back in season.
“I’m definitely where I want to be,” he said. “I just need to get better at pushing through that pain.”