Summit cross-country outlasts challenging home course; girls place 1st and boys take 2nd

Cody Jones/Summit Daily News
Summit freshman Jay McDonald places first at The Summit Stinger at Copper on Saturday, Sept. 30.
Cody Jones/Summit Daily News

Summit High School head cross-country coach Mike Hagen has said The Summit Stinger at Copper Mountain is the most challenging grass high school cross-country course in the world. He may have a point.

The 5-kilometer course is not only staged at 9,712 feet of elevation on Copper Mountain Resort’s golf course, but also features three quad-crushing climbs up a 22% grade. 

With the aspen trees starting to show off their golden leaves throughout Tenmile Canyon, the boys high school race took to the start line and the runners prepared to feel the deep pain that can only come from running a 5-kilometer race at over 9,000 feet.

With Summit High School junior Josh Shriver sidelined due to an illness, freshman Jay McDonald led the way for the Tigers, with a strong group of fellow teammates following in his stride. 

McDonald, freshman Lukas Remeikis, sophomore Cain Steinweg and sophomore Carter Niemkiewicz led the race field through the first lap of the three-lap course with the group splitting a time of 6 minutes and 23 seconds.

Following the opening lap, McDonald opened up his stride and gradually started pulling away from the race’s chase pack. McDonald completed his second lap in 6:26 and finished the race with a lap split of 6:06 to cross the finish line as the boys high school champion of The Summit Stinger in 18:56.8. 

McDonald was soon followed by Denver South High School’s Andrew Sands in second and Remeikis in third (19:48.5). Like McDonald, Remeikis put a strong race together with race splits within 21 seconds of one another.

The consistent running ultimately resulted in Remeikis’ highest finish of his high school cross-country running career.

“It was fun.” Remeikis said. “I had Jay pacing me for the first couple laps and then he kind of took off. I just then started racing my own race and it was good.”

Steinweg placed sixth (19:55.9), Niemkiewicz finished in 11th (20:26.2) and freshman Owen Fallon rounded out the top 25 with a 25th-place finish (21:14.6).

Rounding out Summit’s top-seven runners, junior Jens Phaf finished 36th (22:20.4) and freshman John McDonald placed 40th (22:35.5).

The boys cross-country team was edged out by Denver South High School for the team title. Summit High finished with 42 points while Denver South had a total of 41 points. Liberty Common High School placed third overall.

Cody Jones/Summit Daily News
Freshman Lily Benbow kicks her way to a fourth-place finish during The Summit Stinger at Copper on Saturday, Sept. 30.
Cody Jones/Summit Daily News

Despite junior Ella Hagen being ruled out for the race due to an illness, the Summit High girls cross-country team still managed to have three, top-10 finishes, with freshman Lily Benbow coming out as the frontrunner for the Tigers. 

After taking a conservative first lap, Benbow moved up significantly and rolled up the 22% grade hill on lap two. On the final lap, Benbow continued to propel herself forward and earned herself a fourth-place finish, marking the best finish of her high school cross-country career.

Benbow crossed the line in a time of 23:56.7 and was soon followed by junior Avery Eytel in fifth (24:17.4) and freshman Ashely Adkins in sixth (24:28.2).

Junior Cecelia Miner and freshman Mila Phaf had two impressive races, hanging tough on the challenging course and finishing in the top 15. Miner placed 11th (24:56.8) and Phaf finished in 12th (25:03.7).

Senior Adaline Avery and sophomore Claire Jackson also notched finishes in the top 25. Avery placed 19th (25:58.7) and Jackson finished in 21st-place (26:15.5). 

For the second year in a row, Liberty Common’s Isabel Allori won The Summit Stinger, with the senior breaking her own course record by five seconds and running the course in 20:14.5.

The Summit girls cross-country team placed first overall with 38 points, beating out Liberty Common High School in second and Palmer Ridge High School in third .

Summit will spend the next week preparing for the Pat Amato Classic on Friday, Oct. 6, before the team begins to concentrate on prepping for the regional and state meet at the end of the month.

“I am really looking forward to throwing down some fast times at regionals and hopefully racing as a scorer for states and having fun,” Remeikis said.  

The Pat Amato Classic will take place in Northglenn with races beginning at 1:30 p.m.

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