Like most cross country races this year, the winner of Saturday’s state championship meet won’t be the first athlete to cross the finish line.

Runners will be sent off in waves at the Norris Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs to limit congestion and increase social distancing.

A number of Western Slope runners will be participating in the all-classes meet. In class 5A, Fruita Monument will have its entire girls team and two boys runners competing. The Wildcat girls are led by junior Jadyn Heil, who finished 22nd last season and 46th as a freshman. Of the six Fruita runners, four are freshmen in their first state meet. The two boys runners for the Wildcats, McGinley Zastrow and Kien Cogley are also running at state for the first time.

In Class 4A, the Central boys team will compete for the second straight year — five of their six runners ran the course last season. The boys will be joined by teammate Tristian Spence, who finished 14th last season in her first state race. The Montrose boys team and one girl runner also qualified in 4A.

In Class 2A, the Caprock Academy boys are back for a second straight year as is De Beque’s Trevor Lewis, who qualified as an individual. Paonia’s Alyster Birk qualified for the third straight year. Grand Valley will send its boys team as well as girls runner Alex Mendoza. Hotchkiss’ Karlie Eggling qualified as an individual the past two seasons and this time will be joined by her Bulldog teammates.

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