Outstanding Colorado HIgh School Distance Athlete Award
Cole Sprout – Valor Christian HS
Despite COVID causing the cancellation of his senior track season in 2020, Cole continued his athletic juggernaut during his final high school year, re-writing the record books in both cross country and track. He repeated as State XC Champion in 2019, setting a then-record time of 15:12. Cole lowered his 5k PR to 14:16, earned another double as Colorado’s Gatorade Athlete-of-the-Year for both XC in 2019 and Track & Field in 2020, and eclipsed a 39-year-old record in the high school boys’ mile by running a 4:02.42 at a time-trial in Niwot in April 2020. All told, Cole has earned 6 Gatorade Colorado Athlete of the Year honors, won Championships in 4 different distances in multiple invitationals and State Finals during his junior and senior seasons, and set the achievement bar at such a high level that it challenged even the best talent that followed in his footsteps. Cole is currently tearing it up at Stanford University, where they welcomed him enthusiastically as another strong member of their storied distance program.
PR’s: 1:53.87 800m, 4:02.42 mile, 8:40.73 3200m, 14:16.01 5k
High School Distance Runner Achievement Award Winners
Joslin Blair – Eagle Valley HS
Joslin’s running talents are not limited to the track or the cross-country courses (where she has certainly excelled) at Eagle Valley High School in Gypsum. Her trail-running skills have propelled Joslin to both the national and international stages. Joslin was the gold medalist individually as a member of the third-place USA girls’ U18 team at the World Mountain-Running International Youth Cup race in Lanzana, Italy on June 16th, 2018. Both finishes were firsts for Team USA in that discipline! Joslin was also the 2020 US National High School Trail Running Champion, setting a course record in Salida. After a stellar 2019 XC season for Eagle Valley, when she and her younger sister Samantha went 2-3 at the State XC Meet, Joslin was unable to capitalize on her fitness when the track was cancelled. She had already amassed quite a resume, however, which led to a scholarship offer from Vanderbilt University, where Joslin is currently a sophomore. She is already setting new PR’s and earned herself a spot on the Dean’s List & academic honor roll! Joslin’s high school accomplishments beyond running included working to combat youth drinking and drug use, being a member of the Link Crew at EVHS (welcoming new freshman to the school), volunteering with the National Honor Society, and creating a chapter of the National Green Schools Society at Eagle Valley. She also worked on a stem-cell project with the Steadman EPOC Science Club, donated her time with Vail Health Hospital and at Gypsum Elementary school, helped with the Eagle Valley Youth Track Club, and traveled on a medical mission to the Dominican Republic in 2018. Joslin has so far summitted 25 of Colorado’s 14-ers, earned All-State honors 3 years in a row, kept a GPA of well over 4.0 throughout high school, and led the way for many young runners looking for new challenges beyond the traditional cross country and track disciplines.
PR’s: 2:17.85 800m, 4:56.35 1600m, 4:53.19 mile, 10:45.77 3200m, 17:17.2 5k
Cruz Culpepper – Niwot HS
Genetics definitely helps in sports performance, and Cruz has it in spades—-both of his parents are CRHOF inductees! But we all know that there’s no substitute for hard work, and Cruz sure puts in the work. He earned a running scholarship to the University of Washington, then transferred last summer to Ole Miss, where he is currently a red-shirt freshman on their team. His career at Niwot HS included being the 4A State XC Champion in both 2018 and 2019 (improving his finish from 44th place in 2017), a 3rd place (14:54) at the Nike SW Regional meet followed by a 20th-place finish at Nike Nationals, and even a 3rd place for doubles at the State Tennis Championships! Cruz has high school PR’s of 1:49.23 in the 800m, 4:08.80 in the mile, and ran the 3rd fastest mile EVER by a 17-year-old (after Jim Ryun and Marty Liquori) at an indoor meet in February of 2020 at UW—4:00.10! Cruz then broke the 4-minute barrier as a freshman collegian. No doubt he has certainly carried on the Culpepper tradition very well!
PR’s: 1:49.23 800m, 4:08.80 mile, 14:54 5k
Samrawit Dishon – Niwot HS
Samrawit showed consistent improvement throughout high school at Niwot, where the culture of distance running thrives. The Niwot girls’ XC team won both the 4A 2018 and 2019 State XC Meet, where Samree moved up from 15th place as a junior to become the champion as a senior! She finished 3rd at the 2019 Twilight XC Meet in Arizona, clocking a 17:08. Samrawit went on to place 15th at Nike Cross Nationals a couple of months later with a time of 17:58 on a much tougher course. That was a huge improvement from her 70th place finish in 2018, when her Niwot team placed 3rd. At her final State Track Meet in 2019, Samree was an All-State Team member in both the 1600 (placing 5th) and the 3200 (runner-up). Her exceptional performances won her the Boulder County Girls Cross-Country Runner of the Year honor for 2019. It also earned Samrawit a scholarship offer to the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, which is one of the nation’s top women’s distance-running programs. She is continuing to improve there, and will no doubt be a key player for their team in the years ahead.
PR’s: 2:16.94 800m, 5:01.19 1600m, 10:53.76 3200m, 17:08 5k
Connor Ohlson – Dakota Ridge HS
Connor’s academic and athletic achievements are equally impressive—they both opened many doors for him, one of which was the entrance into the rare air of the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, where he is studying astronautical engineering and running on their team. He was named Dakota Ridge High School’s Scholar/Athlete of the Year twice, made the Honor Roll 8 times (every semester!), and graduated from their rigorous International Baccalaureate program. Connor was runner-up at both the 2018 and 2019 State Cross-Country Championships, and runner-up in the 800m at the 2019 State Track and Field Championship Meet. Connor ALSO was a 2-time State Meet Qualifier in swimming at Dakota Ridge! He enjoys backpacking, mountain biking, and 3D-modeling in his spare time (when would that be??) He wants to become an astronautical engineer in either the Space Force or the Air Force after earning his degree.
PR’s: 1:53.84 800m, 4:17.06 1600m, 14:55 5k
Yasin Sado – Gateway HS
As an immigrant from Ethiopia (moving to the US in 2015), Yasin and his older brother Ahmed quickly found common ground (literally) in the running community at their school. Yasin started out playing soccer, where his speed and talent brough quick notice from the XC coach at KIPP Denver Collegiate high school. Reluctant to let go of the soccer team atmosphere, Yasin competed in both disciplines before realizing that multiple sports, academics, learning the English language, and assimilating into American culture was all a bit too much. Once he devoted himself exclusively to distance running, Yasin rapidly excelled, becoming better with every race he participated in. Because KIPP had no track & field program, Yasin ran for Denver West HS in the spring of his sophomore and junior years, winning the 800m, 1600m, and 3200m at the State Track Meet in 2019 for 3A. Yasin improved from an 8th place finish at the 2018 State XC Championships for 3A to being the lone Gateway High School qualifier (transferring there his senior year) for the 2019 State XC Meet and finishing 13th for 5A in 16:14. Yasin improved his 5k PR in just two years from 17:25 to 14:58—a time posted while placing 6th at the Nike SW Regional Meet in 2019. Both Yasin and his brother Ahmed are flourishing in the college ranks—Ahmed runs for Adams State and Yasin is in his sophomore year tearing it up at the University of Virginia under the expert guidance of celebrated Coach Vin Lananna.
PR’s: 1:53.27 800m, 4:09.25 mile, 9:29.93 3200m, 14:58 5k
Luke Sundberg – Valor Christian HS
Luke began his running journey at Rangeview HS in Aurora, leading his team with outstanding performances up through his junior (2018) XC season, when he won the Aurora City Championship, posting a time of 16:38—improving his mark from the previous year by almost a minute. He qualified individually for the State XC Championships that fall, but suffered an injury during the race and went from being in the lead pack to finishing in last place. Many runners would have DNF’d in that situation, but Luke battled through his pain to complete the race he had fought so hard to reach. Battling is something familiar to Luke, as he has overcome more than his fair share of obstacles. He has struggled with mental health issues, crediting his relationship with his coach and teammates at Valor Christian High School with helping him further his drive for running excellence after transferring there in 2019 (thus forfeiting his junior track season). Luke improved his mile time from 5:11 to 4:29, his 5k PR dropped to 15:07, and he went from last place in 2018 to 25th place in 2019 at the State XC Championships. COVID restrictions led Luke to delay his first year at Kansas State until the start of next semester, but he will join a great team eager to embrace his talent and expand upon it. His experiences with running and his Christian faith have made Luke a stronger and more resilient person who appreciates the ups and downs of life with equal measure.
PR’s: 1:58.87, 4:29.33 mile, 9:59.70 3200m, 15:07 5k