Going the Distance Together

By Kayla Smithgall

Runners for the 2015 cross country team included seniors Isaac Bernatchez, Cayla Carey, Katelyn Pyle, Jasmine Fuyivara, Christopher Lock, Abe Arguello, Zack Benson, Brenden Gunwall, Neil Lovell, Emily Rutherford and Rayna Medeles, juniors Kylee Harless, Payton Swedlund, McKenna Christner and Noah Lemily, sophomores Alex Kalan, Jacob Schroeder, Rebecca Miller, Rachael Northup and Sydney Wright, and freshmen Brianna Wilson, Joey Coakley, Adam Hernandez, and Ryan Lock.

Cheryl Rael has coached cross country for 24 years.

“I became a coach because I love running, discipline and conditioning,” she said.

The runners participated in 10 races throughout their cross country season.

The first race was at home. The girls placed 6/7 with a score of 93 and the boys placed 6/8 with a score of 77.

Their second race was at Frontier Academy. The boys beat two teams again, placing 18/20 with a score of 494. The girls placed 14/14 with a score of 392. There, Swedlund ran her best time of 25:13, placing 108/130.

The Tigers’ next stop was Platte Valley. The girls’ team beat four teams, placing 7/11 with a score of 183. The boys beat three teams, placing 10/13 with a score of 257. Rutherford ran her personal best of 25:25 on JV at this meet.

The fourth race was called Runners Roost. The boys beat 11 teams and placed 16/27 with a score of 421, while the girls beat seven teams and placed 14/21 with a score of 375.

“There was a fun run in Littleton [Runners Roost] and these guys dressed up in togas and ran the course. There were also guys dressed as vikings. At the meet there were rivers that everyone had to either jump over or run through and it was funny to watch people miss and fall into the water. I did not fall in; I cleared all of them,” said Harless.

The team then traveled to Frontier Academy again, with the boys placing 14/15 with a score of 339 and the girls placing 12/12 with a score of 271.

With a score of 398, the girls placed 13/14 at Dakota Ridge. The boys placed 13/20 with a score of 375.

At Andy Meyers, the girls’ varsity placed 11/12  and JV placed 4/4 with a score of 396 and the boys’ varsity placed 11/14 and JV placed 6/6 with a score of 306.There were five runners who ran their best time there. Coakley ran 19:22 and placed 56/103. Pyle ran 25:23.97 and placed 88/102,  Fuyivara ran a 28:43 and placed 32/48 on JV, McKenna Christner ran a 28:43 and placed 36/48 on JV too. Schroeder also ran on JV, placing 42/43 with a time of 30:18.

” I have always been into physical fitness and since my oldest sister Kim ran cross county, she gave me the idea. I thought it would be a great way to exercise. When I first started I was barely able to complete a three mile/5K and now I can run seven miles and do a three mile run in 20 minutes. Cross county takes patience and knowing your body. If you don’t push yourself to the best you can be, you will not improve,” said Coakley.

The runners’ seventh race was their Patriot League race in Kersey, CO. The girls placed 6/7 with a score of 171. The boys placed 7/9 with a score of 186. Seven runners beat their personal records there. Ryan Lock ran a 26:42 and placed 90/97, Alex Kalan ran a 20:50 and placed 60/97, Abe Arguello ran a 20:58 and placed75/97, Zack Benson ran a 34:37 and placed 97/97,Brenden Gunwall ran a 20:57 and placed 73/97, Chris Lock ran a 20:58 and placed 79/97 and Rebecca Miller ran a 24:33 and placed 44/74.

“My favorite part of cross country is really the team. We are like a family! That sounds a little cliche but we are truly almost as close as family. We sometimes run an extra mile just to encourage each other. And at team dinners (before each race) we spend hours just hanging out and having fun,” said Miller.

The next run was only a two mile run at University. The boys scored 195 and placed 8/13 while the girls scored 140 and placed 5/8.

” My favorite memory is team dinners at Chris Lock’s house. We had larping wars, played big genga and had amazing pizza lasagna,” said Harless.

Bernatchez agreed with Harless about team dinners.

“My favorite memory isn’t only just one memory, rather a bunch of memories. As a team we will throw small team dinners at each other’s homes the day before the race. At every one there is always one thing that I will remember the most. No matter if it was us playing football in the streets or even playing games such a giant jenga with everyone standing around as intense concentration was being show on the participators’ faces,” he said.

After University, the team traveled to Monfort Park in Greeley for Regionals. The girls placed 8/11 with a score of 226 and the boys placed 7/12 with a score of 243. 10 runners ran their fastest times there.  Hernandez ran a 20:30 and placed 66/103 , Bernatchez ran a 17:25 and placed 13/103, Lemily ran a 25:57 and placed 102/103 and Lovell ran a 19:54 and placed 61/103. Wilson ran a 22:39 and placed 30/91, Northup ran a 22:39 and placed 31/91, Wright ran a 25:45:00 and placed 69/91, Harless ran a 25:54 and placed 70/91, Carey ran a 25:54:00 and placed 71/91 and Medeles ran a 26:03 and placed 72/91.

“By far the craziest thing that happened this year was when I lent my pocket knife to Alex to remove a zip tie holding his chip on. He accidentally cut himself through his shoe and cut his toe. He was then taken to the ER and got nine stitches,” said Coakley.

There was one person that actually ran 11 races in his final season of cross country. That person is Bernatchez. He has ran cross country all four years of high school, and each year he qualified for state. This year at state, Bernatchez placed 54 out of 150 runners with a time of 18:13.

“To go to state all four years is a great achievement no matter who you are or what sport you play. To put on a college application “I have attended state cross country for all four years of my high school career” is a good feeling. Even the option to say “I did it, I ran the hardest course of my cross country career, and I crossed the finish line every time,” makes me feel extremely proud of myself,” he said.


“The best part of being a coach is seeing athletes improve, work hard daily and bond together. The kids set high standards for themselves so it’s no suprise when they perform better; I expect it,” said Rael.


Isaac Bernatchez (12)
Isaac Bernatchez races to beat his opponent to the finish line.