Girls Cross Country: The Amazing Race

The Team Battles Through Adversity as They Look Into a Promising Playoff Season


William Oliva

Pushing through the course, Ava Escorcia (12) exelcerates to the finish. Despite injuries earlier in the season, Escorcia fought hard to return to her full competitive potential.

Anna Olson, Reporter

Ava Escorcia isn’t used to sitting on the sidelines.

The two-time state champion senior cross country runner suffered a leg injury over the summer that caused her to miss competing in the first few races of the season. But she has no intention of slowing down. 

“Overcoming that challenge is really hard,” Escorcia, a captain, says. “It definitely does take a toll on your mental health, just being an athlete that experiences an injury and missing out on things with your team.”

But she remains optimistic. “I really hope I can participate with the team in these upcoming races because I know they’re really going to need me,” she says.

The Arapahoe girls’ cross country team has seen tremendous success over the past several years and has high hopes of repeating their state titles, won in 2019 and 2021, and their fourth in the nation ranking last year. 

But they didn’t become successful overnight.

The cross country team trains five days a week, running around 30-40 miles Monday-Friday to prepare for the meets they have over the weekend. 

From practice to practice the number of miles and workout-types vary, including 6- to 8-mile runs–which senior captain Ava Mitchell considers “easy.”  

Mitchell, named first-team all state for the past three years, says this training has helped her performance, but she also credits the boost of adrenaline she gets when standing at the starting line. 

“It’s super nerve wracking, but it also makes you really excited,” says Mitchell. “And then the nerves go away right as the gun goes off, so you really only have the exciting feeling.”

Senior Emily Lamontagne, a two-time all-state honoree on the 2022-23 USA TODAY HSSA Girls Cross Country Watch List, says putting in so many miles also requires a dedication to proper nutrition, especially in making sure she gets enough protein. Her pre-race dinner might include pasta with meatballs, and oatmeal with fruit for breakfast the day morning of the meet. 

“That’s super important to help your body recover,” she says. “Refueling so you can make sure that you can run your very hardest the next day is important.”

But even for the state champions, the final season won’t be easy. Co-coach Jeff Krause, who has seen this team through their many successes the past three years, thinks that there are plenty of worthy opponents.“There are probably three or four other teams that are equally good and so it’ll be a good competition,” he says. 

The senior trio all plan to run in college, but for now they have their eyes set on a successful–and fun–final season. 

“I just want to finish out the season as hard as I can, and make it my best one yet,” Lamontagne says. “… I think there’s a lot of pressure for us to exceed what people think that we can do. But we’re going to put our best out there.”