Dakota Ridge XC Places First In Their Biggest Race Yet

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Dakota Ridge XC Places First In Their Biggest Race Yet

Peyton Cunningham, Staff Writer

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On November 15, the Dakota Ridge XC Team flew out to Arizona with a select few runners, who were all in search of earning a spot in Nike’s National Cross Country Championship. In Planning for this trip, the team scheduled in an extra day of training in Arizona to adjust to a dramatically lower elevation of 2,000 feet. The teams race on Saturday was a momentous occasion for the program, as the runners placed well enough to not only qualify for Nationals, but return home with another championship under their belt.

The Running Eagles were led by senior Austin Vancil, who placed 3rd overall in the meet, coming in at a time of 14 minutes and 48 seconds. Not far behind was junior Connor Ohlson, who placed fourth, 3.2 seconds behind running mate Vancil. The rest of the team secured the victory, all crossing the finish line within a minute or two behind Vancil and Ohlson. Next to come in was sophomore Jacob White, followed by junior Ben Morrin, junior Ben Peigat, senior Riley Abrashoff, junior Wyatt Oglesby, and senior Drew Valerio.

If the team had not placed first or second, the season would have ended with this trip, but due to their outstanding performance, the team must keep training for their final race of the season, the 2018 National Championship. The team returned to Littleton that Saturday, and were back to training that Sunday. The team has yet to cease, and in doing so made history and truly established Dakota Ridge XC as a name to be remembered.

During the trip, “everyone was a mixture of nervous and excited, the season was on the line,” says senior Dana Lunsford. The team traveled together and were an inseparable unit during their ventures, “which made it 10 times more fun and less intimidating. Now the boys are heading to Nationals, and we couldn’t be more excited for them,” says Lunsford.

The final race will be hosted in Oregon, where the number one and two team from each qualifying region will face off in the most prestigious high school 5k in the country. The race will take place on December 1st, where the team can expect cold weather outweighed by the 500 foot elevation. After winning their most recent race, the team has just two weeks till they will hear their final bang of the starting gun. No matter what happens, this season has been one to remember, and the team has accomplished what a rare few ever will.