Lewis-Palmer's Penrose picks up the pace at altitude

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LITTLETON - Lewis-Palmer’s Jonah Penrose was one of the many runners to set a personal best at Friday’s Liberty Bell Cross Country Invitational at Heritage High School, but the senior’s circumstances are a little different than most.

Penrose was chasing a time of 17 minutes, 26 seconds, which he set as a sophomore. His family lived in Alaska at the time.

In just his third race at altitude, Penrose not only set a PR, he did so by more than 30 seconds. His 16:53 was good for ninth in the Division 3 boys’ race.

“It was kinda a surprise,” Penrose said. “I was reeling quite a few people in at the end.”

The senior finished roughly 45 seconds back of first place. He’s been a pleasant surprise for the Rangers coaches after finishing in the top 10 in consecutive weeks.

“We didn’t know what to expect,” Lewis-Palmer coach Mike Diamond said.

“We were a little surprised because at our first time trial, he was there right in the front with who was our No. 1 runner last year.”

Penrose said it took him some time to acclimate to his new setting after the family moved over the summer. He’s since adjusted and has set his sights on cutting another 30 seconds off his best.

“I’ve definitely felt that senior itch, like this is my last year, I gotta do well,” Penrose said. “I definitely see myself getting close to 16:20s if I can. That’s definitely a goal for me.”

Penrose has a little more time than he used to in order to set another personal best. The Alaskan season ends a couple of weeks earlier than Colorado, he said.

The goal for the Rangers, according to Diamond, is qualifying the team for state. Penrose has been a boost.

“I think he’s doing a great job as a leader,” Diamond said. “He just jumped right in and has been running with all the other guys on the team. It’s been a great addition to the group we already had. He’s fit in perfectly.”