COLORADO SPRINGS — Alex Baca made school history on Saturday, and what a time to do it.
Baca, a senior, won the Class 3A boys cross country state championship, becoming the school's first ever cross country champion.
“I’m shaken and blown away, it’s a lot to process,” said Baca. “I’m so grateful, it’s hard to put into words because of how crazy things have been in this world, a lot of people worked very hard to put this on for us and I’m just grateful to even be here.”
Baca crossed the finish line at 16:07, only two seconds in front of second place finisher Joshua Medina of Alamosa.
The course proved to be difficult, and the final stretch forced the runners to push their limits.
“This course is unforgiving and that last quarter is tough,” Baca said. “It’s a gutsy course and you have to be brave and tough.”
Being Gunnison’s first school champion is a huge honor that Baca feel very fortunate to have.
“I just tried to do this for everyone who tried to do this in the past and all my mentors like Colton Stice, who taught me how to run brave,” Baca said with a smile. “I hope Gunnison is proud of me.”
Despite a strong effort from The Classical Academy and Holy Family, the Frontier Academy boys proved to be too much on Saturday.
Frontier Academy scored 48 points to repeat as the 3A champions. Their top finisher Senior Abuzaid Fanning came in fourth and the team had four top-20 finishers that helped the team finish on top again.
During the girls race, Basalt sophomore Katelyn Maley turned in an outstanding individual effort to claim the title.
“I’m just feeling very excited and we did very well as a team today, especially since we came in today without one of our main runners,” said Maley. “I was in shock when I crossed the finish line and I was only thinking about getting water.”
Maley crossed the finish line with an impressive 18:39 time, 34 seconds ahead of the next finisher, Kennedy McDonald of The Classical Academy. Approaching the last quarter of the race, Maley had a 24 second lead over all other racers.
“The hills and heat were really tough today,” said Maley. “Luckily I kept myself mentally tough and just kept telling myself it would be over soon.”
While Maley may have won the cross country state title, her mind is already looking to the next competition.
“I’m just going to keep grinding till track and field,” Maley said. “Although this season is abbreviated, I’m just glad we got to be here and I’m grateful for everything.”
In the girls team race, The Classical Academy claimed the championship for the second straight year, its twelfth girls team cross country state title in school history.
“I don’t think we felt as much pressure this year, but it just feels really good to be here again and we’ll just keep trying to continue to win,” said McDonald.
TCA claimed that top spot on the toughness of the three top-ten finishes from Kennedy McDonald (second), Cassidy McDonald (eighth), and Sophia Valentine (ninth).