Tigers represent Summit County at Nike Cross Southwest Regional in Arizona | SummitDaily.com

Tigers represent Summit County at Nike Cross Southwest Regional in Arizona

The Summit Tigers cross-country team poses for a photo after running in the Nike Cross Southwest Regional meet Saturday, Nov. 20 in Tempe, Arizona.
Michael Hagen/Courtesy Photo

As a cross-country runner in Colorado, it can be challenging to run fast times during the high school season.

The courses are often hilly with uneven terrain and at altitude, which makes it hard to run to one’s true potential. The Nike Cross Southwest Regional in Arizona provides the opportunity for cross-county runners to extend their seasons a couple of weeks after the state meet in order to run fast and compete against some of the best cross-country teams in the Southwest region.

This year, the Summit High School cross-county team sent six runners to the event, which was held Saturday, Nov. 20, in Tempe, Arizona.

In the past, the event has been held in nearby Casa Grande, but according to Tigers head coach Michael Hagen, the event was moved to Tempe due to ongoing COVID-19 concerns.

Freshman Ella Hagen, daughter of coach Hagen, finished seventh overall at the Colorado state cross-country meet. Last weekend, she started the championship girls race controlled in order to steadily make her way through the field.

Hagen crossed the finish line in 15th place in a time of 17 minutes, 53 seconds, being just one of four freshmen in the top 15. Hagen’s placing also allowed her to be recognized as third team at the Nike Cross Southwest Regional meet.

Perhaps the most impressive performance of the weekend, though, came from sophomore Adaline Avery in the girls medium school open race.

Avery was able to set a new personal best of 20:27, improving her old 5-kilometer personal record by almost 40 seconds. Avery also placed high in the race finishing 34th out of 109 girls.

According to coach Hagen, Avery has consistently been putting in the work that is necessary to set a personal best like this. It was because of consistent hard work that Avery finally saw the major breakthrough she was waiting for all season.

What makes this performance even more impressive is that coaches were informed after all the races Saturday that the course was marked longer than the set 5-kilometer distance.

“We found out afterward that the course was long,” Hagen said. “At least 3.18 miles, some GPS watches were showing up to 3.22.”

With this mistake, the course was at least a hundred meters too long, adding anywhere from 18 to 30 seconds onto athletes’ times. Taking that into account, Avery shaved nearly 60 seconds off her old personal best of 21:05.

Freshman Cece Miner also raced in the medium school open, placing 74th in a time of 21:30, just a few seconds shy of her personal best.

The Tigers program also sent three boys to the race.

Junior Dominykas Remeikis was looking to get some redemption after he was forced to muster out of the state cross-country meet while sick. Unfortunately, Remeikis’ buildup to the Nike Southwest race had some hiccups, as well.

“His preparation was compromised by over a week of missed training due to the virus he caught just before state, plus two weeks of three-hour-long basketball tryouts.” Hagen said.

Remeikis still went out hard with the lead pack in the boys medium school open race but started to fatigue in the latter half. Remeikis was able to hold on for 15th place out of the 260-boy field but was a ways off his personal best of 15:40 as he crossed the finish line in 16:30.

Remeikis still has one last opportunity to put the race he has been wishing for together as he will travel to Huntsville, Alabama, to run at the RunningLane Cross Country Championship on Dec. 4.

Rounding out the results for the Tigers were freshman Josh Shriver and junior Landon Cunningham in the second heat of the boys medium school open race.

Both Tigers runners went out with the leaders, setting personal bests in the first mile of the 5-kilometer race. Cunningham was in the lead through the first mile, but the late morning Arizona heat started to take its toll, and by the finish, he had slipped back to 51st to cross the line in 17:26.

Shriver was 13th at the mile mark and steadily moved up, racing smart to place 9th out of 176 boys in a time of 16:33, just 9 seconds off his personal best despite the long course.

Besides Remeikis, who will race again in a few weeks, the Nike Southwest Regional will mark a fast and fun end to the 2021 cross-country season for the Tigers. Now, many cross-country athletes will make the transition to winter sport seasons in order to stay in shape for the spring track season.

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