Ella Hagen first female Summit High School student in 18 years to win state cross-country race

On the boys' side, Summit High senior Dom Remeikis places 18th, teams place 6th and 10th

Summit's Ella Hagen opens up her lead over the last mile at the 4A state cross-country meet in Colorado Springs on Saturday, Oct. 29. Despite nerves heading into the race, Hagen was crowned the 4A state champion after crossing the finish line in 17:48.90.
Cody Jones/Summit Daily News

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include a few words from head coach Mike Hagen.

It has been 18 years since Summit High School has had a woman win the individual state cross-country title, but on Saturday, Oct. 29 sophomore Ella Hagen changed that.

With bluebird skies on a mild late-October day in Colorado Springs, the Summit High School cross-country team took on a hilly and dusty Colorado state cross-country course at the Norris Penrose Event Center.

The week prior at the 4A Region 1 cross-country meet, Summit made history by qualifying both teams to the state cross-country races for the first time since 2008.

Coming into the state race, Hagen was all the talk throughout the state of Colorado and across cross-country media outlets.

With her time of 16 minutes, 45.10 seconds from the Liberty Bell Invitational in September, Hagen held the top time over 5 kilometers in the 4A classification and the second-best time in the state of Colorado.

In other words, Hagen was a viable threat coming into Saturday’s state race, and Hagen knew it too.

Although nervous about the prospect of winning the state race, Hagen put herself within the top dozen or so competitors in the early part of the race. At the mile mark, no clear leader had been established as Hagen and a horde of Niwot High School athletes jockeyed for position.

The scenario was different when athletes emerged from the back side of the course. At the 2-mile mark, it was Hagen and Niwot’s Addison Ritzenhein. 

Hagen knew what she needed to do over the final mile, though, in order to secure the victory. With a slightly downhill mile until the finish, Hagen poured it on while being cheered on by her family, friends and teammates. 

Hagen pumped her arms up the final hill and into the Norris Penrose Event Center stadium to the eruption of cheers from the waiting crowd. Hagen crossed the finish line in a time of 17:48.90 to become the 2022 4A girls state champion.

While standing in the finishing corral, Hagen had trouble coming to grips with what had just occurred over the last 17 minutes and 48 seconds.

“I honestly didn’t think it was possible but now that I did it, I want more,” Hagen said minutes after crossing the finish line.

Still shaking from the adrenaline rush from the race, Hagen slowly realized she had actualized her wildest dreams from when she first began running.

“It’s an incredible feeling that is indescribable,” Hagen said. “When you realize that all your hard work, everything you have done, all the early runs, has paid off to bring you to one of the best stages in the world. I am proud of myself, and I am proud of my team and how hard they have been working. I couldn’t be here without them.”

Hagen finished nearly eight seconds in front of Ritzenhein who placed second as a freshman. 

Hagen was followed by Summit freshman Lauren McCalla who placed 33rd in 20:03.10. Junior Adaline Avery placed 66th in 20:57.50, sophomore Avery Eytel placed 84th in 21:31.10, sophomore Cecelia Miner finished in 94th place and freshman Darby Leffler placed 99th.

Out of 20 4A girls teams, the Summit girls team placed sixth with 236 points. Niwot won the girls meet with 20 points.

In the 4A boys race, senior Dom Remeikis and the rest of the Summit boys cross-country team tried to make a statement of its own.

Remeikis — who has been Summit’s frontrunner throughout the season — got out with a rapidly moving lead pack. Remeikis looked controlled at the mile mark, but around the 2-mile mark, the leaders started to pull away from him and the chase pack.

Remeikis worked his way through the last mile to finish in 18th place with a time of 16:18.10. The performance was disappointing to the senior for his last state cross-country race, but he recognized he gave the race all he had on the day.

“I wasn’t too happy with my race but sometimes that is racing,” Remeikis said. 

Josh Shriver was the next Summit athlete to cross the line at 17:20.20 in 58th place. Shriver was followed by Will Bentley in 72nd and Landon Cunningham in 75th.

Two freshmen rounded out the Summit performances at the state race. Carter Niemkiewicz finished in 114th place, and Cain Steinweg placed 127th. 

The Summit boys cross-country team placed 10th overall with a score of 298 points. The meet was won by Mead High School’s Nolan Hoffman in 15:31.40, and Cheyenne Mountain High School was crowned the team champion with 76 points.

“Cross-country is very much a team sport, and our team has gotten so much stronger this year because of the effort of everyone,” head coach Mike Hagen said. “These kids have built a great program. It’s not easy to toil out of the limelight, but they have worked hard top to bottom and are starting to see the fruits of their labor.”

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