Starting the Season Off Right

With an astounding 36 season-best times, the cross country team looks to a great season ahead.

In only the third meet of the season, the Eaglecrest cross country team has seen unprecedented jumps in time and spirits. The meet, held at DeKoevend Park on Friday, September 3rd, was hosted by Arapahoe High School. 

Preceded by the Cherry Creek Invitational meet, the Arapahoe hosted meet was an opportunity not only for the runners to improve their times, but also to compete against new competition. 

“Cross country is like an individual team sport,” said senior Esayas Embayea. “It’s working with teammates, it’s working with people from other schools…it’s like a running community.” And with nearly 40 teams in attendance –many from outside the district– there was no shortage of competitors.

Varsity runners Owen Morgenegg (left) and Esayas Embayea move up in the pack at the Warrior Invite Meet on September 3rd. (Gabriel Gutierrez)

Despite a week of warm weather, the day of the race brought plentiful rain –so much so that the course had to be altered in order to work around the flooded water crossings. The usual light stream had become a rushing river, unsafe for runners. 

“It was really raining when I raced,” Embayea said. “And I feel like that really did affect my performance.” Despite the inclement weather, though, Embayea managed to run a season-best time of 17:50, coming in second on the team and placing 52nd overall. 

Junior Owen Morgenegg also ran a season-best time in the boys’ varsity race, crossing the finish line in 48th place of 197 runners with a time of 17:45. Along with Embayea, the pair worked together the majority of the race, picking off runners to secure their placement. 

“Pushing through those first two miles, I carried the pace for everybody that ran with me,” Embayea said. “I brought all my friends to a faster time.” And clearly, he succeeded. The course clearly yielded impressive results –even with the last-minute changes. A healthy mix of concrete and gravel, the course was a good one, although the winding, seemingly neverending finish on the grass left something to be desired. 


Junior Steven Sampson races in the rain at DeKoevend Park at the September 3rd invitational. (Gabriel Gutierrez)


Owen Morgenegg (Jr.) and Esayas Embayea (Sr.) work together to move up in the race, both finishing in under 18 minutes. (Gabriel Gutierrez)

“You could feel the burn,” noted Embayea, describing the course. However, including Embayea, all but two of the boys’ cross country team ran a season-best time –a rare occurrence for a meet. And although the course was undoubtedly a contributor to their fast times, the boys’ own hard work is also what led six of them to run times under 19 minutes: a good sign for so early in the season.

“This affects the outlook for the rest of my season because I want to do better than how I did there,” said Embayea. “It was the third race of the season, but I felt like I could have done a lot better.” With his sights set on the upcoming Grandview-hosted Saturday meet at the Arapahoe Fairgrounds, Embayea refuses to settle for merely an acceptable time. Rather, he’s determined to make the best of his senior season –especially after last year.

Sophomore Colin Bundas sits on the shoulder of a Mullen runner, running the race in just under 20 minutes. (Gabriel Gutierrez)


Hanging on to the back of a pack, senior Anthony Salazar grits his teeth to finish the Arapahoe Warrior Invite strong. (Gabriel Gutierrez)


Sam Schoch, a junior, speeds up to pass her competitors as she crosses a bridge at the September 3rd cross country meet. (Gabriel Gutierrez)

The boys’ team, of course, had an excellent meet, but the girls’ team can, in fact, boast an even more impressive feat. Each and every one of the girls who raced had a season-best time, with 8 girls running times under 24 minutes. 

“I was able to break my season PR,” said junior Sam Schoch, a varsity member of the team since her freshman year. “And I felt great while I was running, which is always the goal.”

For many of the girls and boys alike, this race represents hopeful progress. Though they were able to have a season last year, during the height of the Covid pandemic, it was far from normal. Running against the same six teams –rather than a wide variety of teams from across the state– week after week, with masks, different heats, and limits on the number of runners, the 2020 season was challenging, to say the least. And so this season brings a sense of relief and resolve to many of the cross country runners, especially the upperclassmen. And with ideal weather and a fast course, it was a recipe for an excellent race.


Teammates Ellie Shaw (So.) and Elizabeth Carlsen (Sr.) sprint the finishing chute at the Arapahoe Warrior cross country invite, both finishing with season-best times. (Gabriel Gutierrez)


Freshman Caitlin Gesualdo finishes a strong race on Friday, September 3rd, rounding out the varsity girls team for the week. (Gabriel Gutierrez)



In the 3rd meet of the season, senior Trinity Chevier runs to a season-best time, with teammate Elizabeth Carlsen (Sr.) not far behind. (Gabriel Gutierrez)

“I love racing in the rain and I really like that course,” said Schoch. “So I think those combined really helped me feel good and do well in that race.” Though the rain continued through the boys’ varsity race, it trailed off at the start of the girls’ varsity race, making way for a sunny second-half of the meet –and more fast times. 

Coming in 45th place of 190 runners, senior Simone Beauchamp ran a lifetime best of 20:12, followed by sophomore Olivia Anderson, who came in at another lifetime best of 22:26. Anderson, along with senior Trinity Chevier –who are third and fourth seeds on the team– both had their first year on the cross country team during the pandemic. Both have gotten to experience a completely new side to racing –and have excelled. 

“Knowing that I can PR makes me want to PR in the next race, and keep PRing throughout the season,” Schoch added. After a grueling year, this meet was a much-needed boost in morale and confidence. 

“Regardless of time, I think everyone ran really well,” Schoch said. And with over half of the team achieving a lifetime PR, which means that 8 girls ran their fastest time ever, the future for the 2021 cross country season looms bright.


Senior Simone Beauchamp fights to move up in the Arapahoe Warrior Invite on September 3rd, finishing the race with a new personal best time. (Gabriel Gutierrez)