Dakota Ridge boys cross country claims 5A team title

(Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

COLORADO SPRINGS — Not going after individual accolades worked out perfectly for Dakota Ridge’s boys cross country team Saturday afternoon at Norris Penrose Event Center in Colorado Springs.

While there was the rabbit of Valor Christian junior Cole Sprout out there to chase, the Eagles were focused on knocking off defending Class 5A boys team state champion Mountain Vista. The pressure didn’t get to Dakota Ridge as the Eagles cruised to the team title with 47 points. Mountain Vista finished a distant second with 76 points.

Dakota Ridge junior Connor Ohlson, right, and senior Austin Vancil finishes second and third in the Class 5A boys race. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

“It’s unbelievable. Those last five minutes before we found out was so nerve-wreaking. It’s such a relief,” Dakota Ridge senior Austin Vancil said after finishing third individually with a time of 15:42.1. “We had a ton of people here to cheer us on. It’s such a relief to finally get it done.”

The last cross country team title for the Dakota Ridge boys came in 2006.

The Eagles had three individuals place on the podium. Besides Vancil taking third for the second straight year, junior Connor Ohlson edged Vancil to take second and sophomore Jacob White placed 10th.

“We knew it’s going to be close,” Ohlson said before the team results were announced. “(Mountain) Vista is so great. They deserve to win it also.”

Junior Ben Piegat (17th place) and Ben Morrin (43rd) finished out scoring runners for Dakota Ridge.

Dakota Ridge sophomore Jacob White placed 10th to help the Eagles to their first boys state cross country team title in a dozen years. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

“Everyone on the team is super meaningful to us,” Vancil said. “To have the seven guys we had today was an unbelievable experience.”

The 5A boys race went just as scripted for Dakota Ridge. Vancil and Ohlson new it would be tough to defeat Class 5A Jeffco League rival, Sprout. Last year’s 4A individual state champion had the best time of the day. Sprout won the 5A individual title in a time of 15:16.1.

“We (Connor and Austin) wanted to stay with him (Sprout) a little longer. He broke off after the first mile,” Vancil said. “We were here to get the team win. We didn’t want to kill ourselves to drop off at the end. We had to run our own race and get two and three.”

That is precisely what happened. Ohlson just out-kicked Vancil down the final stretch to take second.

“He (Ohlson) is super talented,” Vancil said. “There is no one else I’d rather like have beat me. I’m super proud of him. He has worked super hard for it.”

When White crossed the line in 10th, before any Mountain Vista runners it was pretty clear Dakota Ridge would win its first state title in a decade.

“Everyone just had to do their own part,” White said.

Dakota Ridge will graduate Vancil and Riley Abrashoff, but with Ohlson, White and company back next year a repeat isn’t far fetched.

“Connor will be here and hopefully I’m even going to be even faster,” White said.