WOODLAND PARK - Megan Dillinger closed out her impressive high school cross country career by leading the Woodland Park girls to 15th- place finish at last month’s state meet.
Riley Youngman, also a senior, was Mr. Versatility for the boys’ soccer team, playing every position on the field at one or another.
For their efforts, Dillinger and Youngman have been named the Courier View’s athletes of the fall season in their respective sports.
“Megan was really determined and she had the intangibles,” Woodland Park cross country coach Ron Payton said about his star runner. “She didn’t want to get beat and she really improved over the course of the season.”
A case in point was the Class 4A state meet, held Oct. 27 at Norris-Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs. Dillinger was running second or third for the first 2 ½ miles of the race. But she overcame teammate Lexi Harrison and crossed the finish line first among the seven Panthers’ runners.
What’s more, Dillinger’s time of 21 minutes, 35 seconds, was nearly two minutes faster than she ran on the same course at the pre state meet in early September.
“I didn’t realize that,” Dillinger said with a smile. “That’s a really big improvement. I guess I owe it to having a good coach.”
Dillinger typically finished second on the team to junior Savannah Ebhert. But Dillinger did finish first on the team in two other races this season - the pre state meet and the Metro League meet at Fountain-Fort Carson (the second to last meet of the season).
Interestingly, Dillinger’s worst race of the season came a week before state at regionals down in Pueblo when she ran fourth.
“I wasn’t feeling good that day,” she said. “That race probably gave me a lot of motivation for state.”
Dillinger is hoping to run in college. She is considering Division III Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She would like to major in international studies.
“I would like to travel and study abroad in France,” she said. “Maybe I’ll be a diplomat someday.”
Youngman began the season in goal for the Panthers, who finished 0-14-1. His cat-like reflexes and quick feet helped keep games close for a team that struggled to score goals.
But as the season progressed, it became painfully apparent that Woodland Park’s Achilles heel was its inability to get the ball in the bet. Youngman was pulled out of the box and spent time as a defender, midfielder and forward.
“If we had a finisher, Riley would have played in goal more,” said Woodland Park coach Andrew Pappadakis. “But I needed him in the field.”
Youngman had been the team’s starting goal keeper since midway through his sophomore season.
“This was a tough season, but we were able to come together as a team,” Youngman said. “It was a good environment, even if we weren’t winning.”
Youngman was also needed on the football field. Halfway during the season Panthers’ football coach Joe Roskam came calling for Youngman’s services as a place kicker and punter.
“That was a lot of fun,” Youngman said of his experience playing football simultaneously with soccer.
“The football environment and soccer environment are two different things. The football team went out every game thinking they were going to win.”
Youngman is planning to attend college. He has already been accepted to Colorado School of Mines and South Dakota School of Mines.