COLORADO SPRINGS — Long before Valor Christian’s Brooke Wilson stepped foot onto a high school cross country course, former Grandview star Brie Oakley set the stage for what she would one day accomplish.

Oakley’s Class 5A state meet record-setting performance in 2016 gave the Valor senior an ultimate goal to reach for and, in her final season in the prep sphere, she passed the mark with flying colors, beating out Oakley by a jaw-dropping eight seconds.

The new time to beat, and the first-ever sub-17-minute race at the 5A girls state championship, is 16 minutes, 59.2 seconds.

“I’m just so thankful,” Wilson said. “I mean, I remember when Brie Oakley set the course record. I was in seventh grade or something like, ‘Oh my gosh, that would be so cool to do that one day.’ And now I’m here.”

To prepare for her big day, Wilson tailored the ultimate runner’s training regimen to focus more on nutrition, hydration and recovery. It paid off when it counted most, as she dominated with a 24-second gap over the second-place finisher, Pomona’s Emma Stutzman.

(Dan Mohrmann/

On the team side of things, Air Academy enjoyed an escape from the Niwot-controlled 4A classification to claim their first-ever — and first possible — 5A title. The Kadets scored 76 points to beat out second-place Mountain Vista by 19 points.

Sophomore Tessa Walter led the Kadet platoon when she clocked in at 17:50.3 for fifth place, just 12 seconds ahead of her junior teammate and the sixth-place finisher, Bethany Michalak (18:02.1).

“It’s honestly so exciting,” Walter said. “When we got some really fast freshmen we knew we had a chance. Throughout the whole season, we were all working really hard and it’s nice to come here and finally see the result of it.”

Fort Collin’s Groendyk caps off perfect prep season with state title

(Dan Mohrmann/

It’s not often that a young runner can say he went a perfect 7-for-7 in his high school meets, but Fort Collins senior Christian Groendyk can now add his name to what is undoubtedly a short list.

On Saturday morning, he rose to the top of the 5A championship competition when he not only won the individual title with a 15:13.5 time, but he beat out the second-place runner, Valor Christian’s Drew Costelow, by 10 seconds.

From August to October, nobody could touch him.

“It’s just a crazy feeling. This is just the greatest stage in the country. I’ll die going down that (hill),” Groendyk said. “I’ve raced at Hayward Field (at the University of Oregon) and it doesn’t match the energy here at state. Everybody knows how tough of a course this is, how much this matters to the people running it. Nothing’s ever going to touch that feeling.

“Short of being an NCAA champion, I don’t think anything’s ever going to be greater than that feeling.”

Even though Costelow’s valiant effort fell just short of individual gold, his two points helped vault the Eagle boys to their first-ever team crown with 155 points to just barely beat out Centaurus’ 170.

His 15:23.3 time set the tone for the rest of the Eagles, as Dane Eike (fourth, 15:40.8) and Kaeden Dendorfer (ninth, 15:50.9) marked additional top-10 placements.

“Cole Sprout kind of set the benchmark with our school and what the running program should look like,” Costelow said. “We did great last year, but to get it this year, it’s amazing. I think everyone just worked their tail off today and it’s a great feeling.”

(Dan Mohrmann/