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EHS, PCHS girls steal the show at Liberty Bell Invitational

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By Alissa Noe

LITTLETON — In a meet of grand proportions that saw nearly 100 teams from around Colorado and Wyoming, two local high school teams held their own amid stiff competition at the Liberty Bell Invitational 5K cross country competition at Heritage High School on Friday.

The Evergreen High School girls placed third out of 14 teams in Division III with a score of 105, whereas the boys struggled a bit, finishing 10th out of 18 with a 231 score.

In the Division IV competition, the Platte Canyon High School boys placed 18th out of 19 teams, scoring 494. Although the Huskies were led by a strong performance from freshman standout Emma Dikken —41st in a field of 200 — the girls team could not place because it only had four runners on the team and needed five to score.

Despite the girls’ team’s phenomenal finish, EHS head coach Rob Wright said he sees a lot more improvement in his team, something that he hopes it’ll build on as the young season continues.

“We have a lot of work to do,” Wright said. “We don’t make excuses, but we’re kind of a short team from last year. We lost a lot of seniors, but we knew that was coming. We’ve been doing pretty good over the summer in trying to pull a lot together, but it’s going to be more of pack here for sure.”

Senior Lauren Vilims, who finished first for the Cougars and 16th overall with a 20:23.00 time, said despite the setbacks the team has seen this year, she’s proud of what it was able to accomplish at the large meet.

“We’ve had a couple kids who’ve been sick and injured recently just from practices and stuff like that, pushing themselves hard and working hard,” Vilims said. “They’re still doing really well with those injuries, which means we’re going to have a really great team for when we geared up for the final match.”

On the boys side, sophomore Colin Szuch led the effort for the Cougars, finishing 17th overall with a 17:27.00 finish. He, too, focused on the positives of the race with Evergreen’s shortened team.

“We did really good. I feel like everyone performed really well,” Szuch said. “I think everybody’s kind of starting out, but over the season we’re really going to progress.”

On the Platte Canyon side in D-IV, head coach Bill Stahl was proud of his team’s performance, especially given how his team has only 11 runners.

“It was good. I wouldn’t give it and A-plus yet,” Stahl said. “Holy Family is out here in our division, and we’re about a third of the size of them. We’re not competing against Heritage or anything like that, fortunately. However, I think we held our own.

“Last year, I noticed in the results — before I was here — the boys and girls were both next to last place. Even though we’re not going to get a (girls) score because we only have four, I still think the boys will be at least elevated from where they were a year ago. It’s steps in the right direction, for sure.”

For the Husky boys, senior David Stalter led the way with a 93rd-place finish and a time of 20:28.00. During the race, however, he felt as though a possible injury held him back some.

“I could have done better, honestly, because it wasn’t the best that I could do. I felt my jaw dislocated there a little during the end. It just felt really stiff, and I couldn’t close my mouth,” Stalter said. “Feeling it and having it be an odd sensation — because it’s like someone’s pushing against it — it was definitely a little nerve-wracking there.”

And, although the girls couldn’t place in the race, Dikken (22:08.00) said she was happy with the performance her team put up as she looks forward to the rest of the season.

“I’m really proud of all of us. We all did pretty good,” Dikken said. “It’s sad that we can’t race as a team and score, because there’s only four of us. But I think we would do really well if we did.”