A day before trying to win a state cross country title, Battle Mountain’s Will Brunner was helping his friends on the boys soccer team by shoveling snow off the field.

Then he made the trip to the Norris Penrose Event Center and in the last race of his high school went 15 minutes, 19.9 seconds to claim the Class 4A boys title. He battled through the first truly cold day that the Colorado Springs area has seen since last spring.

“I spent all of yesterday shoveling a field for a soccer game for my school so I’m pretty used to the cold,” Brunner said. “It’s exciting for me. It’s my senior year and I had so many teachers and people come up to me yesterday [and wish me luck]. I came here last year and got third and it’s been on my mind since that day.”

He battled Mullen’s Jacob Sushinsky and pulled away down the stretch to claim the championship that eluded him a year ago and has consumed his thoughts since. He wasn’t alone from a team perspective as Porter Middaugh came in nine seconds behind him to finish fourth place.

(Dan Mohrmann/ColoradoPreps.com)

Rocco Culpepper, Cole Mazurana and Ryder Keeton each finished in the top 11 to earn a team championship for Niwot. The Cougars finished as the state runner-up to Cheyenne Mountain last year and this is also been a goal that has been on their mind for the better part of 52 weeks.

“It’s been on our mind a lot,” Culpepper said. “It’s been good motivation and we’d been thinking about during workouts. We grind a little harder for that.”

This is the first boys cross country title for the Cougars since 2020.

That was not the case for the girls. Addison Ritzenhein set the tone and shattered the 4A course record set by Air Academy’s Katie Rainsberger.

She finished in 17:08. to set a 4A course record. Summit’s Ella Hagen, last year’s 4A individual champion finished as the runner-up.

“I kind of envisioned it from the start of the season,” Ritzenhein said. “I run to see what I kind do, leave it all out there basically.”

The top finishers box was overcrowded with Niwot runners, allowing the Cougars to easily win their sixth team championship in a row. It’s the sixth overall title for the program, showing just how dominant the program has been over the better part of the last decade.

There has been a different face for each of those team title wins, but the one consistent factor is that the team has a driven and focused goal to come away with a championship everyone can share.

“I feel like when one of us wins, we all win,” Ritzenhein said. “It’s something we all share and cherish with each other. We celebrate consider it a win for everybody.”

(Dan Mohrmann/ColoradoPreps.com)

(Dan Mohrmann/ColoradoPreps.com)