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Local elementary school students concluded their cross country season by carrying pumpkins for 100-yard touchdowns.
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Mike Patrizi, a P.E. teacher at both King-Murphy and Carlson elementary schools, created a combined cross country club at the schools. The goal, he described, was to build camaraderie between King-Murphy and Carlson students, keep them active, and build up the local running community.
On Friday, about 40 club participants ran in the Pumpkin Run at Clear Creek High School, which was their third and final race of the season.
Students ran in three age groups, but everyone’s final stretch involved grabbing a pumpkin and carrying it to the finish line at the other end of the field. Afterward, the students got to decorate their pumpkins and take them home.
Carlson sixth-grader Sawyer Dalpes said he practically threw his pumpkin to the ground after crossing the finish line. Fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders ran about 1.5 miles around the school and stadium, and Sawyer finished second.
While he placed in the top three at all three races this season, Sawyer said he enjoyed the Pumpkin Run the best. He enjoyed running along the berms and through the trees on the Golddigger Trail.
Now that he’s done one year of cross country as a sixth-grader, Sawyer is planning to compete in middle school as well.
King-Murphy fifth-grader Madilynn Donovan also said Friday’s race was her favorite of the two she ran this season. She placed 16th in her first race, and thought she did better on Friday. At least she got to pass someone this time, which she said was fun.
Both Madilynn and Sawyer added that they really enjoyed participating in the cross country club, which involved the three races and twice-a-week practice at both schools.
About 50 students from the two schools participated in the club, and Sawyer said the before-school practices were really fun in the mornings.
Eric and Alma Pennell, who served as parent volunteers for the King-Murphy cross country group, said the first few before-school practices were a little rough. However, Eric said, once students saw how much fun their friends were having running laps before school, participation increased. Plus, even though they were at school an hour early for practice, everyone was in a good mood, he continued.
Alma added: “All the kids seem super-excited (about the club).”
She and Eric said their 9-year-old son Alex loves the club, and they appreciate how it helps the students stay physically active and teaches them good sportsmanship at a young age.
“Our thanks to Mike (Patrizi); this was a great resource to have,” Eric continued. “ … Let’s keep it going every year.”
Patrizi said, overall, the inaugural cross country club “was a blast,” and he also wants to continue it next year and beyond.
“I’m stoked with how it turned out,” Patrizi continued.
He added that he’s planning similar activities later this school year to continue building that community between King-Murphy and Carlson students.
“There’s more to come,” he said.
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