The Classical Academy cross country coach Alan Versaw liked what he saw when his boys’ team came together to start the 2017 season, but he’s seen talented teams come up just short before.
Talent is nothing new for the Titans.
TCA finished second in Class 3A in 2016, 34 points behind Alamosa. The Titans were fourth in 4A in 2014 and 2015 and second in 2013.
“We started the year, all of us felt like, yes, this could be a state championship team,” Versaw said.
“We had enough seconds lately, we knew not to count on anything.”
The initial feeling came to fruition when the Titan boys topped the 3A podium for the first time since 2011.
Sophomore Mason Norman took the individual championship, while seniors Ryan Moen and Canaan Lamberth added top-20 finishes, placing 11th and 14th, respectively.
Juniors Nathan Bone and Brendan Johnston rounded out the team score, while freshman Josiah Cole and senior Isaac Bahr also competed at the Norris-Penrose Event Center course.
“The guys stepped up and raced up to their potential,” said Versaw, The Gazette's Boys' Cross Country Coach of the Year.
“The guys just ran a fantastic race.”
The Titans’ depth could’ve been the difference.
“We were stronger in our four, five and six than we have been in a long time,” Versaw said.
Outside of the time spent wondering who would step in to fill out the back half of the varsity team, the TCA coach remembers the season being relatively stress-free.
“In some sense, this year was so easy. The kids were easy,” he said.
“It was definitely one of my most fun years coaching.”
The Titans did well on the girls side, as well. After sweeping the Colorado Springs Metro League meet, TCA's girls fought adversity to a third-place finish at state, led by junior Kaylee Thompson in ninth.
“They had a lot of reasons at the beginning they could have been discouraged,” Versaw said.
“They refused to do that.”
Highlighted by an individual and team title on the boys’ side, 2017 ended up being quite the season for the TCA coach.
“It was just a lot of fun. It was a great group of kids, always willing. Team chemistry was fabulous. The team leadership was great,” Versaw said.
“It’s the kind of season you dream of as a coach.”