Pine Creek girls crack top spot at Liberty Bell cross country meet

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Photo - Photo by Vinny Benedetto, The Gazette
Photo by Vinny Benedetto, The Gazette

LITTLETON - There was a good deal of uncertainty surrounding the Pine Creek High School girls’ cross country team entering the season after the Eagles lost their top three runners and coach from last year’s fourth-place team at state.

A new era appears to be picking up where the last one left off, thanks to a group of young runners.

First-year coach Steve Flannery has led the Pine Creek girls to wins in two of their first three meets, including the Division 2 portion of Friday’s 40th Liberty Bell Invitational. The Eagles won the UCCS Rust Buster Jamboree last week, but Friday’s race at Heritage High School is a different beast.

"This was a much bigger and stronger field,” Flannery said. “I knew that we had a shot, very happy that we did it. The girls just all had an awesome day.”

Freshman Lucy Hart finished 12th in 19 minutes, 5 seconds. The four other runners who factored into the team score all finished within a minute of Hart.

“To win a race, you’ve got to have all of them up there,” Flannery said. “We’ve got four or five of the girls doing that, running really strong in close proximity.”

Sophomore Brooke Coleman and senior Klara Aspelin moved up into the second and third spots for Pine Creek, running 19:38 and 19:46, respectively. Coleman’s time, which was good for 17th overall, broke her previous best time by a couple of minutes.

“It’s awesome,” Coleman said. “I’m really excited.”

Every Pine Creek runner set a new PR, according to Flannery. That included Aspelin, who has been waiting to run the time-friendly course after missing the meet in her junior season.

“I’ve been trying to break 20 (minutes) for like a year and a half now,” the senior said. “So that’s a big accomplishment for me.”

Kathryn Hibbard, another freshman, was Pine Creek’s fourth finisher in 19:55 with sophomore Sydney Wasson finishing a second back.

The strong start erased some uncertainty and now has the Eagles looking to build on last year's finish.

“We lost three seniors (from) last year, and we were like ‘Uh oh, what about state?’” Coleman said. “But now we have new freshman coming in, and it’s really awesome.”