COLORADO SPRINGS – Denver East junior Rosie Mucharsky had high hopes heading into the Class 5A girls cross country state race, but even she was surprised when she entered the arena at the Norris Penrose Event Center with no one in front of her.

She refused to let up and crossed the finish line in 17 minutes, 28.8 seconds to claim the win, holding off Air Academy’s Tessa Walter in the process. And she couldn’t help herself as she gave the crowd a bit of a flex as she crossed the line.

“You get a little boost of energy when you do something you did not expect to do,” Mucharsky said. “I was hoping get a top-five. There are some incredible girls in this race and I love running with them so much. I had no idea that was going to happen.”

(Dan Mohrmann/

It was a bit of a surprise to the spectators as well. At the 2-mile update, Kadets senior Bethany Michalak had a fairly sizable lead and was even on pace to give the course record a scare.

But when the final turn was made, it was Mucharsky in the lead.

The good news for the Kadets is that they didn’t go home empty-handed. Air Academy had five runners finish in the top eight to easily give them the 5A team title. It’s the second straight team title for the Kadets and the third overall for the program. The first team championship was the 4A title that the Kadets won back in 2015.

(Dan Mohrmann/

There was another unexpected result as Chaparral’s Brennan Draper outlasted Mountain Vista’s Benjamin Anderson to claim the boys championship.

Anderson had the lead after the second mile, but Draper knew that as long as he could stay with the lead pack, he would have a chance at the end to give himself a surge and win the title.

It played out almost exactly how he thought.

“It was all worth it,” Draper said. “I stuck with it, that was the plan. If I could stick with him until the hill, I could get him in the end. And I executed it perfectly.”

At the 1-mile mark, there were 11 runners within a second of each other and it initially proved difficult to make a move toward the very front of the pack. But Draper remained patient and that approach paid off for him in the end.

“It was so bunched,” he said. “I knew if I just stayed patient on the hill in the back area that people would start falling off. They did and I ran into a bush, but other than that it went perfectly.”

Rock Canyon claimed the team title after holding off league rival Mountain Vista by nine points. Owen Whitney was the top finisher for the Jags at 15:32.5. Overall, they had three runners finish in the top 20 which was good enough to take first place in the team standings.

(Dan Mohrmann/