The tears literally flowed from Jeff Miller when the Clear Creek cross country coach learned that Katie Sullivan was relocating to Summit. It wasn’t just because she was expected to be the Lady Golddiggers’ third best returning runner, but because she is a great kid in general.
But Sullivan isn’t back and neither is Grace Diekman, a 2014 graduate who was the team’s No. 3 runner in 2013, leaving some uncertainty in Clear Creek’s pecking order with the cross country season around the corner.
“Replacing one isn’t as hard as replacing two, especially when they are your three and four,” Miller said.
It was Sullivan and Diekman, alongside top runners Claire Werlin and Hayden Hutcherson, who led CCHS to a 3A Frontier League title and a second straight state appearance after the team hadn’t gotten there since 2001.
Though the Lady Golddiggers placed 19th out of 20 schools for a second straight year at state, the foundation was in place to not only repeat in the conference but also to make a stronger showing in 2A this year after the school dropped down a classification. It certainly was expecting to have the depth that came in handy last year at leagues.
“Last year, at the league meet, Anya, Maddie and my five, six and seven (runners) were the difference between us winning and losing (the league) because we had depth,” Miller said. Clear Creek had four runners finish in the top 10, including Hunter Tonn, who has since graduated. She was Clear Creek’s fourth runner across the finish line. “There’s a pretty big gap between Hayden and Claire and three and four. At least, there was last year. I don’t know what happens this year. We’ll see. There was a gap.”
One thing, however, that is on Clear Creek’s side, despite the losses, is the move to 2A where at regionals and state it will only have to score three runners instead of four or more.
On the boys side, sophomore Brandon Swenson returns after an up-and-down freshman season culminated with him placing 48th at state. He missed time during the year to illness and being academically ineligible. Senior Liam McDonough is back after a 10th-place finish at leagues. But, like the girls, the Clear Creek boys have some question marks pertaining to the depth after those two. Platte Canyon is the favorite to repeat as the 3A Frontier League boys champions.
Contact Michael Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-933-2233, ext. 15.