Buena Vista’s Zaila Smith

Buena Vista’s Zaila Smith adorns the home page of website CO.MileSplit.com after running away with the 2A girls title by nearly a half-minute at the Cheyenne Mountain Stampede (Pre-State) 2021 5,000-meter event Saturday near Colorado Springs.

Buena Vista’s Zaila Smith won the 2A girls race at the Cheyenne Mountain Stampede (Pre-State) 2021 by almost 26 seconds.

Smith finished the 83-runner, 5,000-meter event in 20 minutes, 14.4 seconds, well ahead of runnerup Eliana Caucutt of Golden View Classical Academy’s 20:40.2.

Lady Demon Mallory Salazar posted a Top 10 finish taking seventh in 22:46 while Molly McMurry finished just 2/10ths of a second out of the Top 10 in 11th with 22:55.6 to lead Buena Vista to a second-place team finish.

Colorado Springs Christian School won with 28 points, BV had 38 in the 17-team event.

“The Pre-State race is always a fun one,” BVHS coach Julia Fuller said. “It’s called Pre-State because if all goes well, this is the exact course that the teams will race on a little later this fall and they divide up the teams according to division as well.

“We don’t get to see the full set of 2A teams that will be there in October, but I always love getting the team out there so they can know what to expect later in the season,” Fuller said.

She said the early season accomplishment is just that - early in the season.

“Placing second for the girls team this weekend is an awesome place to be, and also a subtle reminder that it’s not the end of the season yet and that we still have some work to put in before getting back on this particular course,” Fuller said. “We actually tied for second this weekend, which doesn’t happen all too often.”

The tie breaker comes down to our 5th place runners, so Carley Fuess (BV 4th place runner) and Kadance Kelso (BV 5th place runner) secured the second place trophy.

“Overall we know these races come down to how well our team can come together and strive to give their all on and of the course,” Fuller said.

Nate Plotner led the Demons with 18:53.9 and a Top 20 finish in the 114-runner boys field. Ellicott’s Jodzuel Juarez won in 16:35.6.

“The boys team finished in 8th overall with a lot of them having their first race on the state course,” Fuller said. “It is awesome to see each of these athletes learning their strengths as runners and learning how to give their all in a 5k. Plotner and Ben Lague (31st, 19:50.3) are leading the boys team so far this season. While they’re both seniors it is also their first season on the high school cross country team,” Fuller said.

Zach Dylan came up 1 second shy of his state time the last time he raced there, Fuller said, and Jett Adams really focused on hitting negative splits and passed 14 runners in the last mile.

“The team is looking to continue to improve as the season move forward as well and they look forward to seeing this course again,” Fuller said.

Cross country races again Saturday in the Liberty Bell Meet at Heritage High School.

Buena Vista’s home meet is Tuesday, Sept. 21 at the McMurry Ranch in Nathrop.

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