Runners toppled three of the four course records Saturday during the fourth annual National High School Trail Championships and Beas Knees citizens races in Salida. 

Only Taylor Stack’s course record in the Beas Knees men’s division remained after the day, but even his mark lost its spot as the fastest overall time. 

Battle Mountain’s Sullivan Middaugh set the new fastest time on the 5.4-mile course up, down and around the Arkansas Hills, winning the boys’ National High School Trail Championship in 31 minutes, 52.60. Sean Korsmo of Bismarck finished less than two seconds later, Green Mountain’s Grahm Tuohy-Gaydos finished less than 3 seconds after Middaugh while Palmer Ridge’s Colby Schultz finished 3.9 seconds after Middaugh to claim fourth. Cheyenne Mountain’s Erik Leroux also broke the old record, taking fifth in 32:10.95.

Stack set the previous best time last year at 32:11. 

Eagle Valley’s Joslin Blair, meanwhile, won a close race in the girls’ National High School Championship. She won in 37:29.29, breaking the old record by almost 1½ minutes, but only finishing the race .13 seconds ahead of Durango’s Madeleine Burns. Glenwood Springs’ Ella Johnson (37:34.60) and Eagle Valley’s Samantha Blair (37:46.74) also broke Joslin Blair’s previous record of 38:53. 

In the female division of Beas Knees citizens race, Morgan Hykes won in a new record time of 38:38.80, breaking Taryn Ceglowski’s record by roughly 15 seconds. Neither Stack or Ceglowski raced this year. 

“It’s really crazy to have such kids,” said Salida’s Kuper Banghart. “There’s always a bunch of big guns who show up anyway, but this is the only cross country race (I think this summer) so it got a big boost.”

The winners of Saturday, however, weren’t necessarily the first runners to the finish line. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s races included some extra precautions. The runners started in heats of 10 instead of a mass start to spread them out. They also had to wear masks at the start and finish, but not during the race, and the post-race awards ceremony was also scrapped in attempt to keep people from congregating. The runners carried timing chips while on course to clock their times, and the fastest won. 

“I was pleasantly surprised,” Banghart said about the staged start. “I thought there wouldn’t be anybody to run with, but it went pretty smooth and actually made it easier to pass. And there was always someone in sight.

Banghart, however, said Saturday’s race was “a little rough” for him. 

“I had a lot of kids that were just crazy fast and I tried to hold to them and ended up regretting it,” he said. 

Banghart ended up finishing 63rd out of 103 runners in the boys championship in 38:46.99. 

Elijah Wilcox led Salida with a 16th place finish in 34:05.36 while Izayah Baxter finished 58th in 38:07.37. 

“They both did really well,” Banghart said, noting that Baxter used a 5K time for seeding from his freshman campaign and ended up passing a whole heat of runners while Wilcox stayed in the mix and was competitive in a fast heat of kids. 

“I’m really proud,” Banghart said. “(Baxter) was really turning and burning.”

In the girls’ championships, Quinn Smith clocked Salida’s best time, crossing 43rd out of 71 runners in 45:29.29. Alex Hebert finished 53rd in 48:44.41 and Kalister Banghart placed 67th in 1:03:04.35. 

Salida’s six high school competitors were all underclassmen last year

Kuper, however, said all of the kids from Salida know the course backwards, and said part of their advantage is they know when to burn and also know to drink water, water and more water before the races. “That’s definitely key,” he said. 

Salida was also well represented at the top of the citizens races. 

Camden Gillis, who runs for the Colorado School of Mines, finished fourth in the men’s division in 33:56.23, 55 seconds behind the winner, Andrew O’Keefe of Adams State.

Boise State’s Leif Everson and Henry Mong placed second (33:11.79) and third (33:52.42), respectively. 

Hykes, meanwhile runs for Adams State and she beat her teammate, Amalia Dorion, (40:17.07) by 1:38 to win the Beas Knees. After the college runners, 11-year old Anna Prok finished third in 41:08.84. Salida’s Bari Beasley then finished fourth in 42:39.47. The Beas Knees is named ofter Beasley’s father, Brett Beasley, a former U.S. Forest Service Ranger who was instrumental in connecting countless people to the outdoors.

With times determining the winner instead of who crossed first, Kuper said he knew the race would be more of an internal game this year, but his strategy didn’t change, “Try to make the person next to you hurt,” he said. 

Saturday’s blazing times through the Arkansas Hills certainly caused some pain, but the most of the winners have some new records to show for it. 

In the high school team races, Niwot claimed the boys’ title with 28 points, followed by Cheyenne Mountain (48) and Battle Mountain (82). Salida finished seventh out of 10 teams with 137. 

Valor Christian, meanwhile, won the girls’ team crown with 29 points, followed by Niwot (41) and Eagle Valley (52). Salida’s girls finished eighth with 163.