Jacob Sushinsky’s meteoric rise in the 2022 cross-country season was capped in style on Saturday.
In the Class 4A Championships at Norris Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs, the Mullen junior took fourth on a very difficult course to negotiate. He was Mullen’s lone male entrant. For girls, the Mustangs qualified as a team, finished 11th and were once again led by senior Amy O’Connell.
A pleased Mustangs head coach Joe Welling called Sushinsky’s performance “phenomenal” and with good reason. Sushinsky’s time of 15 minutes, 52.5 seconds was just 21 seconds off the winning pace and Welling said “breaking 16 minutes on this course is a pretty good performance.”
It’s the second-best showing by a Mustang in program history. Welling said, pointing to the third place in the 1990s by future Olympian Charlie Gruber.
In his previous race, a 4A regional, Sushinsky, 42nd in the 2021 4A finale, set a program record in becoming one of only three 4A runners this season to break 15 minutes, finishing in 14:58.8.
“Jake ran such a smart race,” Welling said “He had a great strategy and executed that strategy very well. We’re just really happy with his finish.”
With a calf injury that sidelined him for weeks at the outset of the season, Sushinsky, who won the Windjammer Invitational and was all-Centennial League, nevertheless showed up every day for practice before going home to employ treatment, Welling said.
“His commitment to the team and champion of the team as a combination speaks volume for who he is as a runner and person,” the coach said.
For girls, O’Connell was 22nd. She ran 19:36.4. Kira Van Der Steen was 46th in 20:42.4. The Mustangs followed with: 73. Dri Eckman, 21:42.1; 74. Maddie Sanchez, 21:34.7; 87. Jacqueline Magolske, 21:50.4; 107. Lizzie McGarry, 22:11,7; and 115. Octavia Gomez, 22:39.1
One spot out of the top 10 was good, Welling said, “and we had our usual pack … yeah, I think we were seeded 13th or 14th … anytime we can outdo our seed …”
In addition, Welling said Sushinsky and the girls team will run in the postseason, a first-ever trip to a national competition. They will compete in the Garmin RunningLane Championships in Huntsville, Ala., on Dec. 3.
“It’s supposed to be the fastest course in the nation,”Welling said, “so they ought to burn up some times at sea level.”
CLASS 4A CHAMPIONSHIPS
At Norris Penrose Event Center, Colorado Springs
Mullen individual – 4. Jacob Sushinsky, 15:52.5.
Mullen team – 11th, 301.
Mullen individuals – 22. Amy O’Connell, 19:36.4; 46. Kira Van Der Steen, 20:42.4; 73. Dri Eckman, 21:42.1; 74. Maddie Sanchez, 21:34.7; 87. Jacqueline Magolske, 21:50.4; 107. Lizzie McGarry, 22:11,7; 115. Octavia Gomez, 22:39.1