“Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted in one moment
Would you capture it or just let it slip?”
It’s 8:40AM and I’m driving Chandler Reid’s parent’s Yukon Denali packed with most of the varsity Centaurus High School boy’s cross country team. We are driving from the hotel in Aurora to the Arapahoe County Fairgrounds for the Colorado State Championship. I expected a loud ride of excited 15-18 year old high schoolers. Instead, everyone is completely silent and Eminem’s Lose Yourself is playing loudly through the SUV’s sound system.
“So here I go it’s my shot.
Feet fail me not, this may be the only opportunity that I got. You better lose yourself in the music, the moment. You own it, you better never let it go. You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow. This opportunity comes once in a lifetime yo.”
I can’t help but try and hold back a smile. These kids – Chandler Reid, Jack Marshall, Alani Estrella, Logan Goodrich, Jake Link, Tyler Menger, and Kyle Peterson – have worked hard all season, put in the miles, competed well, had fun, and had an excellent team mojo. Nothing was going to stop them on the course, there was no speech that would empower these kids to run well. As a coaching staff, we never put pressure on them to win. We wanted to see the kids learn that hard work pays off and leave the cross country season not only happy with their success, but also leaving the season happier with the sport of long distance running and the lessons it teaches you. After a surprise sweep of the boys and girls championships at the regional meet, we never discussed goals and expectations put upon them. The 3.1 miles that separated the start from the finish were not dreaded, but an opportunity to let the hard work pay off…and they knew it.
A few hours later the gun goes off and Kali and I sprint downhill to see the guys at the mile mark. The kid’s are very poorly positioned at the mile. The top guy, Chandler, is in about 50th place with Jack about 15 spots behind. The rest of the guys are probably in 80th-120th place. Kali and I take off running to the two mile mark, very nervous at this point. We had no reason to be nervous though, our kid’s have been a “3rd mile” team all season due to quality long runs every Monday from Coach Devin Rourke. At mile 2 they look much better and have all moved up significantly. Chandler is now in 12th and 12 seconds back from the leader. Jack not far behind and Alani right on his heels. A big surprise was Jake and Logan who moved up very well and were in great position.
I’m practically sprinting across the high grass field with patches of snow in jeans with tights underneath towards the third mile mark and final straightaway with Kali. I’m thinking we look good. Really good. Our top 5 was gaining on Broomfield’s top 5. What would Kali and I see as the kid’s turned the corner to the final 200m stretch?
Chandler in 3rd
Jack in 12th
Alani in 17th
Logan in 34th
Jake in 43rd.
Quick headcount I do not see any other school with five in before us. Holy crap, we may have won the state championship. I bounce out of the line of spectators and sprint to the finish to find the guys. After a few great hugs and congrats I let them know that it was close and they may have just pulled off their first state championship. Coach Devin and I see each other the first time and basically jump up and down thinking we may have won!
After the kids cool-down everyone is gathered by the building where they post results. There are a bunch of coaches, but we notice that over 50% of the people there are Centaurus coaches, athletes, or parents. The official starts posting the results..individuals first..then the team results…#1…
“His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy
There’s vomit on his sweater already, mom’s spaghetti
He’s nervous, but on the surface he looks calm and ready to drop bombs,
but he keeps on forgetting what he wrote down,
the whole crowd goes so loud
He opens his mouth, but the words won’t come out
He’s choking how, everybody’s joking now
The clock’s run out, time’s up over, bloah!”
CHSSA State Cross Country Champpionships - 4A Boy's Arapahoe County Fair Grounds - Aurora, CO --------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1. 109 Centaurus ( 17:16.66 1:26:23.30) ==================================== 1 3 Chandler Reid JR 16:39.82 5 43 Jake Link FR 17:44.02 2 12 Jack Marshall SR 17:03.77 6 (101) Tyler Menger JR 18:26.42 3 17 Alani Estrella SR 17:16.52 7 (109) Kyle Peterson SR 18:33.97 4 34 Logan Goodrich SR 17:39.17 2. 175 Broomfield ( 17:34.15 1:27:50.75) ==================================== 1 11 Ben Forsee SR 17:02.97 5 53 Joe Mitchem SR 17:48.62 2 25 Kory Skattum SR 17:31.42 6 (102) Cody Armstrong SO 18:26.67 3 39 Matt Sarno JR 17:41.67 7 (153) Parker Ericson JR 19:19.02 4 47 Ethan Gonzales SO 17:46.07
Immediately we all start jumping up and down, embracing each other, and enjoying this truly special moment. Adrenaline was buzzing as Coach Devin and I frantically tried typing on our phones to let people know that Centaurus High School boys were the State Champions! Nobody on milesplit or anywhere had predicted our boys to win, nevertheless by so many points! In an interview with the Broomfield coach he summed it up best when he said he figured the Centaurus team was a solid 3rd or 4th in the state on a good day, so it wasn’t that we were unheard of but nobody thought we could ever challenge for the win.
There are a lot of lessons to be learned from this season and from these guys. Tyler Menger, our 6th guy, summed it up best when he put his arm around me and said, “Hey coach, hard work does pay off!” Menger had a goal of 400 miles this summer and was 20 miles shy with two days to go. What did he do? Ran ten miles each day to reach his goal. That’s the attitude of a team that wins a state championship. They had no pressure, no forced expectations, nobody telling them they couldn’t do it. Instead, they had a positive environment: great team mojo, very supportive parents, good friends and teammates who came to watch and cheer them on, an unrelenting drive to succeed, and most importantly they never lost sight of the fact that the sport is about having fun and competing to your best. These kids earned Centaurus it’s first cross country state title since becoming a 4A school decades ago. It was also Centaurus High School’s first state title in ANY SPORT since 1999. The varsity team – Chandler, Jack, Alani, Logan, Jake, Tyler, Kyle, Sam, Scott, and Marcus – will be remembered as pulling one of the biggest colorado 4A state championship upsets ever. I’m thrilled to be a part of it!
Showing true pride and maturity, the guys immediately turned the momentum to the girls team. It was now the girl’s chance to go for a win. The girl’s team has also had excellent mojo all season long, led by Coach Kali and Devin. The girl’s were led not by one runner, but a pack of Centaurus Warriors. The girls, almost all juniors with one senior (who was our fifth girl at states), were ready to run to their potential…and they did. No, they didn’t pull off a victory, but they finished 5th in a very close team race. The winning team Thompson Valley simply ran fantastic and dominated the field. Teams 2nd through 6th were only separated by 77 points. They ran very tough and all competed well, unfortunately the team points did not work in our favor. Our depth was telling for our future though – our 6th girl was the fastest 6th girl on any team and we return five of the top six. I’m confident, as well as the rest of the coaching staff, that our girls (and boys) and contend for the state title next year!
There are so many lessons to take away from this season from both the boys and the girls. Right now, we are simply enjoying this victory. These kids have been extraordinarily positive all season and it was an unreal experience to see their dreams come true. The boy’s championship showed the power of believing in yourself, doing your best regardless of the competition and gurus say, and keeping the pressure/expectations off. I’m less than 11 weeks until the Olympic Trials. The Centaurus Warriors have inspired me. Does anyone in the media or running community give me a thought to make the USA Olympic Marathon team? No. Let me tell you, I couldn’t be happier.
-A very proud Coach Tyler