COLORADO SPRINGS — Cherry Creek senior Parker Wolfe received news early this summer that would make any cross country runner panic: You’ve tested positive for coronavirus.
“I was really anxious for the season,” Wolfe said, “I didn’t know how it affected my lungs.”
Wolfe re-told his story Saturday afternoon, in between deep breaths beneath a mask, grateful for his extreme exhaustion outside the Norris Penrose Events Center. The scrappy blonde distance runner had spent his entire high school career in the shadow of a legend. Not anymore.
“It’s pretty awesome,” Wolfe said. “I never thought I’d be here.”
Wolfe beat COVID-19, and a few months later, he beat the entire field of Class 5A cross country runners at the state meet.
Wolfe crossed the 5K finish line Saturday in 15 minutes, 10.4 seconds, for a new state meet record, eclipsing the previous mark set by Cole Sprout, a former three-time individual state champion (2017-19) with Valor Christian.
Wolfe, who is close friends with Sprout, placed third in the state meet a year ago.
“It’s definitely tough being in (Sprout’s) shadow. He’s such a good runner. It had always been that way since freshman year,” Wolfe said. “I went up to the mountains with him a couple of weeks this summer and we trained at high altitude. It’s always kind of been on my mind since then and even last year — just trying to beat his time.”
Cherry Creek cross country coach Ethan Dusto never doubted his top runner’s fire.
“(Wolfe) had a lot of big goals,” Dusto said. “He’s the kind of kid who will stretch for 20 minutes when he wakes up in the morning or get 100 pushups in, because it’s going to help. He’s great at doing all those little things.”
The wild card in Wolfe’s preparation? Coronavirus.
Wolfe told reporters on Saturday that he has “been back to the doctor a couple of times” since re-testing negative for COVID-19. He’s kept a close watch on his overall health.
“I’m very up and down with good weeks and bad weeks,” Wolfe said. “Overall, I think I’m pretty much back to normal and healthy again.”
Wolfe’s fears ultimately subsided back in September at the Heritage Distance Classic with pre-race plans to break the course record (also held by Sprout). But Wolfe didn’t stop there.
His ridiculous 14:30.1 finish broke Sprout’s mark and stands as the fastest high school 5K time in the nation this year, per milesplit.com.
“I want to say he ran like a 4:35 for his last mile, which is just insane. It was amazing to watch,” Dusto said. “He’s improved about 45 seconds in his 5K time every year, except this year, but that was because there’s just not 45 seconds to cut. He got taller, stronger, and better at putting in distance miles. He’s just continued to be able to make that next step and not hit that plateau.”
Wolfe fell short of his state meet goal to finish in under 15 minutes. Supplanting Sprout’s name in the record books is a nice consolation prize for his final high school 5K. Wolfe will join the distance running team at the University of North Carolina next fall.
“With all the uncertainty earlier in the season, I was really nervous,” Wolfe said. “I just kept grinding away.”
5A girls: Riley Stewart repeats, Cherry Creek takes home team title
Cherry Creek kept the good times rolling on Saturday with a team victory for its girls program. Junior Riley Stewart also repeated as the 5A girls champion for the Bruins, crossing the finish line in 17:33.7.
“All but one of our girls raced here last year and got second,” Dusto said. “So, there was a little bit of fire. They were really excited to get after it. We were really pumped.”
Prep cross country
2020 CHSAA state championships at Norris-Penrose Event Center in Colorado Springs
Distance: 5 kilometers
Teams: 1. Mountain Vista, 80; 2. Chaparral, 124; 3. Fairview, 144.
1. Parker Wolfe (Cherry Creek), Sr., 15:10.42. Ben Conlin (Rampart), Sr., 15:27.03. Caleb Boutelle (Pine Creek), Sr., 15:31.04. Henry Murphy (Fairview), Sr., 15:41.35. Lukas Haug (Boulder), Sr., 15:44.06. James Thomas (Broomfield), Sr., 15:47.47. Ryan Montera (Legacy), Sr., 15:57.88. Ty Garrett (Valor Christian), So., 16:06.39. Caden Smith (Cherokee Trail), Sr., 16:06.710. Jayden Nats (Mountain Vista), Jr., 16:11.0
Teams: 1. Niwot, 36; 2. Cheyenne Mountain, 63; 3. Centaurus, 96.
1. Zane Bergen (Niwot), Jr., 15:29.52. Jackson Shorten (Mountain View), Jr., 15:37.33. Zack Gacnik (Conifer), Sr., 15:40.74. Grayden Rauba (Niwot), Sr., 15:42.55. James Overberg (Centaurus), Sr., 15:43.06. Erik Le Roux (Cheyenne Mountain), Jr., 15:46.17. Curtis Volf (Niwot), Sr., 15:51.18. Scott Prieve (Palmer), Sr., 15:51.99. Keegan Caldwell (Mead), Sr., 15:53.010. Paul Knight (Durango), Sr., 15:59.0
Teams: 1. Frontier Academy, 48; 2. The Classical Academy, 76; 3. Holy Family, 99.
1. Alex Baca (Gunnison), Sr., 16:07.82. Joshua Medina (Alamosa), Sr., 16:09.03. Caden Schweer (Severance), Fr., 16:18.24. Abuzaid Fanning (Frontier Academy), So., 16:27.05. Logan Gullett (Eaton), So., 16:46.56. Sylas Chambers (Frontier Academy), Sr., 16:53.37. Benedict Siegel (Bishop Machebeuf), Sr., 16:55.88. Henry Ilyasova (Manitou Springs), Jr., 16:57.69. Gabe Heraty (Pagosa Springs), Sr., 16:58.810. Jack Culp (Holy Family), Sr., 16:59.6
Teams: 1. Heritage Christian Academy, 54; 2. Lyons, 59; 3. Peyton, 64.
1. Kidus Begashaw (Lotus School for Excellence), Sr., 16:17.82. Micah Zeller (Custer County), Sr., 16:47.33. Connor Williams (Crested Butte), Jr., 16:50.04. Dylan Brush (St. Mary’s), 17:30.75. Joel Schluessler (Peyton), Sr., 17:33.46. Jodzuel Juarez (Ellicott), Jr., 17:39.37. Cole Thomas (Lyons), So., 17:45.38. Rosston Sherlock (Buena Vista), Sr., 17:51.59. Nathan Schluessler (Peyton), So., 17:52.110. Jackson Neppl (St. Mary’s), So., 17:52.4
Teams: 1. Cherry Creek, 42; 2. Arapahoe, 82; 3. Valor Christian, 90.
1. Riley Stewart (Cherry Creek), Jr., 17:33.82. Cameron McConnell (Cherokee Trail), Jr., 18:00.53. Emma Stutzman (Pomona), So., 18:09.14. Ava Mitchell (Arapahoe), So., 18:13.25. Shelby Balding (Cherry Creek), Jr., 18:20.66. Taylor Whitfield (Valor Christian), Sr., 18:20.77. Brooke Wilson (Valor Christian), So., 18:28.18. Emily Lamontagne (Arapahoe), So., 18:34.39. Ella Johns (Fort Collins), So., 18:40.410. Addison Price (Cherry Creek), So., 18:41.7
Teams: 1. Niwot, 55; 2. Battle Mountain, 93; 3. Air Academy, 111.
1. Bethany Michalak, (Air Academy), Fr., 17:59.12. Mia Prok (Niwot), Fr., 18:02.43. Samantha Blair (Eagle Valley), Jr., 18:14.14. Ella Johnson (Glenwood Springs), Jr., 18:24.05. Aubrey Surage (Lewis-Palmer), Sr., 18:29.66. Elliot Pribramsky (Battle Mountain), Sr., 18:52.27. Hope Stark (Cheyenne Mountain), Jr., 19:04.08. Sophia Connerton-Nevin (Glenwood Springs), So., 19:07.29. Madison Shults (Niwot), So., 19:11.710. Kiera Shorten (Mountain View), Fr., 19:14.1
Teams: 1. The Classical Academy, 65; 2. Holy Family, 113; 3. Basalt, 121.
1. Katelyn Maley (Basalt), So., 18:39.02. Kennedy McDonald (The Classical Academy), Jr., 19:13.43. Allison Beasley (Peak to Peak Charter School), Sr., 19:20.34. Audrey Orstead (Faith Christian Academy), Sr., 19:23.85. Sierra Bower (Basalt), Sr., 19:24.46. Leah Hill (DSST Montview), Jr., 19:27.17. Kylie Simshauser (Florence), Sr., 19:32.18. Cassidy McDonald (The Classical Academy), Fr., 19:35.19. Sophia Valentine (The Classical Academy), Jr., 19:37.510. Andie Rasmussen (Eaton), Fr., 19:43.3
Teams: 1. Buena Vista, 31; 2. Lake County, 41; 3. Lyons, 93.
1. Ella Johnson (The Vanguard School), Jr., 19:34.52. Eowyn Dalbec (Peyton), Jr., 19:43.73. Mallory Salazar (Buena Vista), Jr., 20:19.94. Sophia Bull (Denver Christian), Jr., 20:21.55. Adele Horning (Lake County), So., 20:25.76. Rose Horning (Lake County), Fr., 20:30.47. Zaila Smith (Buena Vista), So., 20:46.88. Quin Gregg (Lyons), Jr., 21:07.19. Hannah Thomas (Lyons), Sr., 21:08.910. Ruby Pendy (Crested Butte), So., 21:09.7