Fruita Monument’s Kien Cogley is following in some fast footsteps.
But he’s leaving behind winning footprints of his own.
Cogley, a senior, ran away from the field Friday afternoon for a solo victory in the annual Anna Banana 5K Invitational at Snook’s Bottom.
“This was a very important race for me,” Cogley said. “This meet was named after someone we lost a few years ago. So I’m really glad I could win it for our team, our coaches.”
The cross country race is held annually in memory of Anna Janowitz, a Fruita Monument cross country runner who was tragically killed in an accident on her way to practice in 2002.
Proud to honor the memory of “Anna Banana,” Cogley said he also wanted to win on the course where runners like McGinley Zastrow of Fruita Monument and David Cardenas of Central had won in the past.
“It really helped to run with those guys when I was younger. It was like, ‘One day I want to be like them,’ ” said Cogley, who ran varsity races from the time he was a freshman.
Cardenas, who won a state title at 800 meters in track, is competing at Adams State University. Zastrow is running at the University of Wyoming.
Cogley, who finished Friday in 16 minutes, 38.82 seconds, has won every meet this season with the exception of the Liberty Bell Invitational in Littleton where he finished second to Gavin Geer of Boulder.
“I was hoping other runners would run with me (at the start Friday),” Cogley said. “I wanted to go out easy because the second mile here is really hard.”
But Cogley was alone as the Central runners clustered tightly together in a strategic plan developed by Warriors coach Ted Leblow.
“Yes, (Central) ran as team, which was really cool,” Cogley said after watching runners from Central finish second through sixth.
The Fruita Monument senior, who is attracting interest from college coaches, said his work last summer is why he is having a strong season as a senior.
“I trained in Crested Butte with Team Prep USA and coach Trent Sanderson,” Cogley said. “He runs a great camp. I’ve done that the past two summers, which really helped me a lot.”
Cogley said the camp focused on details with an emphasis on recovery.
“That’s really stressed there,” Cogley said. “You can be the fastest person around, but if you’re injured all the time it doesn’t matter how fast you are.”
For his part, Cogley is eager for a rematch with Boulder’s Geer.
“The kid that beat me, I’ll get to run against him again at state, and I’m looking forward to that,” he said
The Central boys dominated in winning the team title Friday, running together.
“They listened,” Central coach Ted Leblow said. “Their met their goal.”
The Warriors finished second through sixth; Billy Adams, Jackson Edwards, Alex Fisher, Jordan Leblow and Tyler Stogsdill, respectively. Adams’ time was 17:07.24.
“They stayed together really well,” Ted Leblow said by way of understatement. All five runners finished within six seconds of each other.
Leblow said the concept, used by many elite cross country programs on the Front Range, is to have the top runners help pull along their teammates — and not leave them in the dust.
“Make … the group faster,” Leblow said. “Finishing together … in numbers is what it takes at regionals and state.”
THREE FOR HEIL
While Cogley won the boys individual title Friday, teammate Jadyn Heil won the girls 3.1-mile race after leading from the start.
She won the Anna Banana title for the third time in her high school career. The only race she didn’t win was last year, when she sat out the meet and watched teammate Ella Unrein win the title.
In a twist, Unrein had to sit out this year’s race with an injury and Heil won on the rolling course at Snook’s Bottom in 18:34.55.
“I’ve been working on balance, on being a strong runner,” Heil said. “I’m gaining that strength to help me get faster over a longer period of time.”
The senior’s season started while she was in the midst of recovering from a summer training injury.
“In the long run, it’ll be healthy for me to have had the break (at the start of the season),” said Heil, behind a pair of Wildcat blue sunglasses.
Ella Johnson of Glenwood Springs finished second to Heil (19:01.29).
Fruita Monument’s winning team score included Addison Eyre in third, Miranda Deeths in fifth, Mackenzie Black in sixth and Lauren Geer in seventh.
One person actually finished ahead of Heil on Friday — her father.
Rob Heil rides the mountain bike out in front of the high school runners during the Anna Banana meet.
“My family is super-outdoorsy and my dad loves mountain biking,” Heil said. “It’s a cool way for him to get to watch me in a race. And it’s fun trying to catch him, having that extra motivation.”
Fruita Monument coach Jay Valentine said he was encouraged by Heil’s progress and her performance on the Wildcats’ home course.
“Jadyn is at the perfect place right now. She’s getting stronger,” Valentine said. “Today is the best I’ve seen her look.”
The Fruita Monument coach said he was thrilled with Friday’s meet that drew runners from Grand Junction, Central, Montrose and Glenwood Springs.
“It’s Fruita’s home race and winning your home race your senior year is awesome,” Valentine said. “And the girls won the team (trophy). So it was a good day — just a lot hotter than I expected.”