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Three Diggers place top 20 at state meet

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By Alissa Noe

COLORADO SPRINGS — After a long, successful autumn, Clear Creek’s cross country season came to an end on Saturday at the Norris Penrose Center as the Golddiggers boys and girls came out strong in the state competition.

The Golddigger girls finished eighth out of 14 competing teams, and senior Samantha O’Brien finished in 15th place, improving on her 18th place from last year. The boys team finished 12th of 14 after a long, hard-fought season wrought with injuries, and junior Wes Davies led the effort with a 16th-place mark.

Freshman Cici Davies finished 16th overall. O’Brien defeated her younger teammate by just a half second with a time of 21:14.90.

“It felt pretty good. I feel even more grateful that Cici was there to do it with me and just have two, right after the other. That’s awesome,” O’Brien said. “We definitely push each other, and I think that has a lot to do with how we run.”

O’Brien was pleased with where she finished in the race.

 “It feels really good,” O’Brien said. “The whole time after I started the race, I just kept telling myself, ‘Go out with a bang. This is it. You’re done after this. You don’t have to practice or work again. You’re done, so make it worth it.’”

And at 16th in just her freshman season, Davies has an illustrious high school career ahead of her.

“I’m glad I can (keep up with Sam),” Davies said of her neck-and-neck finish with her teammate. “It feels really good.”

With just three senior girls on the team in O’Brien, Gracie Werlin and Sydney Zabel, and with Davies poised to take the lead girls’ role in just her second year, the Golddiggers will have plenty of talent to lean on next season.

On the boys’ side, junior Wes Davies ran the course in 17:31.10, followed by junior Sawyer Kitting, who clocked in at 65th overall at 19:15.20. Wes — who had been to state every year since his freshman year — said prior to the race that he was shooting for 25th place and was ecstatic that he beat even that goal.

Kitting had a noteworthy race, too, as he nearly missed his personal record by 10 seconds.

“As soon as I saw my time, I was just blown away,” Kitting said. “That was more than I could have expected at this race.”

But still, as someone who’s usually the only boy to qualify for state for Clear Creek, Wes was happy to be able to do it with his teammates this year.

“We were super pumped to hear that we were going to state as a team and then the girls made it too, so it was really good to see that,” Wes said. “It was great because I’ve never run with a team at state, so it was nice to know that they were at the start with me.”

With all the roadblocks the boys faced this season, Kitting said he was excited to see his teammates run their hardest on the course, especially considering that only two seniors are leaving this year.

“It says a lot — character and just the willingness to put it all out there,” Kitting said. “It gives you more confidence and more motivation in the summer to get out there and run more miles so that when we start the season again,  we’re already (back to where we were).”

Wes parroted that sentiment, emphasizing that now that the full team has gotten state competition experience under its belt, it will help erase nerves going into next year and beyond.

“I think we’re going to do great next year, too,” he said. “Our top three that qualified us for state, we’re all juniors, so we have one more year together, and then the freshmen are right behind us. I think it’s going to be pretty good going for the next couple years.”