Cross Country State Race

It was a hot afternoon on October 30th of 2021. The orchestra of footsteps and heavy breathing filled the Norris Penrose Event Center. Every breath and every step brings these athletes closer to their goals. The time to put everything on the line had finally come. 

The Palmer Ridge athletes had proved their determination. No one would doubt that they were a force to be reckoned with. Palmer Ridge had taken first at the Cheyenne Mountain Stampede, Air Academy Kadet Invitational, and at the PPAC League Meet. They even took fourth at the Liberty Bell Invitational Sweepstakes, a 5A Division race.

With their raw strength, talent, and willpower, it was guaranteed that they were a serious contender coming into this year’s 4A state race. Going into this race the runners felt prepared and ready. Palmer Ridge athlete TJ Saglembini (12) said, “I felt pretty confident, we worked hard all season.” With all the tireless training about to go on display, the air seemed to be full of excitement. Palmer Ridge athlete John Clawson (11) said, “I felt serendipitous.” 

The Palmer Ridge Cross Country team is at the starting line of their race.

After months of training, it was finally time for the Palmer Ridge varsity team to approach the starting line of the season’s final race. After doing their routine of a warmup run followed by various stretches, the only thing left was the race. Over a hundred and fifty talented runners on the starting line, all eager to begin the mental perseverance games awaiting them. With the sound of a starting gun, the race was off. After just over fifteen minutes the top runners started to approach the finish line. Yet, one individual seemed to be missing. Runner Jake Bach (11) was absent from his usual place in the front group of runners. After a few more athletes crossed the finish line, tension began to rise. It was then that Bach, Palmer Ridge’s first athlete to finish, crossed the finish line, appearing rather bruised. He was followed by Lucas Bosinger (10), TJ Saglembini (12), Lance Anderson (12), Andrew Olds (12), John Clawson (11), and Thomas Fry (12).

The team, after doing their warmup routine, headed towards the starting line.

Great individuals often have to overcome great obstacles. This statement was shown by Jake Bach in his valiant effort during his race. After a strong start, Bach was a leader in the front group of runners. He stayed in this position until somewhere in the first mile, where he was pushed down by a competing runner. Despite being tripped, Bach was fast to get back up and even faster to get back racing. He pushed himself to start catching up to the lead runners and was gradually making back his ground. Around Mile Two is when the real problem started to set in. The pain in Bach’s hip had started to seep in and he was forced to slow his pace.

Coach Owens encouraging runner Jake Bach as he approaches the finish line

Upon being asked how he felt coming into this race Bach said, “Good. I was gonna win, but then these kids, they decided to shove me on the ground, and that put me in the top 20.” During this race, Bach was unfortunately knocked to the ground. When asked how he felt after getting knocked down, Bach said, “I just got right back up.” He continued to tell his plan for the race when he said,  “Imma just keep trying to catch em’ [the front runners of the race], and it didn’t work ’cause my hip was all messed up.”

Bach’s family and team help him get his injuries bandaged.

Despite the challenges that arose, Bach still has large plans for the future. Bach said, “Yeah, well, I’m gonna go down to NXR [Nike Cross Regionals], I’m fixing to win that one, and then next year I’ll win State, cause these guys, all these guys are gonna be sorry.” After being cheated out of this year’s state race, Bach is ready to show everyone what he’s capable of at Nike Cross Regionals. He also plans to run at most a 4:10 mile in the upcoming track season. While these claims would be fairly bold coming from most runners, Bach undoubtedly has the training and the times to back up his statements.

After the race, the majority of the team seemed to be tired. The finish line was the safe haven that the runners were looking forward to for the entire race. When asked about how they felt crossing the finish line, runner Lance Anderson (12) said, “I was pretty in pain.” Shortly after the race, the results had been determined. It was found that the Palmer Ridge team had gotten fourth. The runners were disheartened to find out that they were only a mere eight points behind third. When asked about how he felt about the race’s results, runner Thomas Fry (12) said, “[I’m a] little disappointed but proud of the team ’cause they showed up and gave it their all.” This seems to be the shared sentiment among the team. When asked the same question, runner Clawson said, “It was nice, it was a little bit rough at the end, but it was good. It was a good race, we all did pretty well, pretty hot, but it was good, better than last year.” 

Runners Clawson, Olds, Anderson, Saglembini, and Bosinger after the race.

While the seniors won’t be getting a chance to run this race again, the younger athletes are still excited for their future seasons. When asked about next season, runner Lucas Bossinger (10) said, “Yeah, I definitely think we’ll do well, me and Jake will probably go to state.” Regardless of the results, the team still appeared to have enjoyed their day at the Penrose Event Center. Clawson said, “I had a good time coming here today, my [race] time may not have been great, but I had a good time.”

In addition to the men’s team, runner Jenna Baker (12) qualified for state individually. Despite having to run the race without her teammates, Baker still ran an impressive race. She was the 87th runner to finish with a time of 21:50.6.

Runner Jenna Baker approaching the first mile.

The Palmer Ridge cross country team coach, Kathy Owens, also had high goals coming into this race. Owens said, “We felt pretty confident, I really thought that we were gonna get second or third in this race.” She also shared the team’s disappointment with the race’s outcome. Owens said, “I was a little disappointed but you know what, you win some, you lose some.” Coach Owens still has high goals for the upcoming season. When asked if she had hope for the next season, Owens said, “Absolutely, big time for girls and boys next year for sure.” Owens also made it clear she was proud to have Baker make it to state this year, but she hoped to have brought the entire women’s team together. Coach Owens said, “I would have loved to have the whole team come cause it is a lot harder with just one, I would have loved to have the other girls as well and I know they wanted to be here as well. But it just didn’t happen for them this year.”

Palmer Ridge Men’s Team

Jake Bach (11), 20th, 16:29.10

Lucas Bossinger (10), 24th, 16:36.40

TJ Saglembini (12), 36th, 17:05.20

Lance Anderson (12), 43rd, 17:12.80

Andrew Olds (12), 45th, 17:16.10

John Clawson (11), 51st, 17:21.20

Thomas Fry (12), 53rd, 17:26.50

Palmer Ridge Women’s Team

Jenna Baker (12), 87th, 21:51.60

Baker at the starting line of her race.
Tj and Thomas approaching the second mile.
Clawson approaching the first mile.
Bach and Bosinger approaching the second mile.