Any disappointment the Fort Collins High School girls cross country team had from its second-place finish at the Class 5A state meet in October have all been erased.

Running as the Fort Collins Running Club, the Lambkins proved they are one of the nation's elite teams Saturday with a seventh-place finish at the Nike Team Nationals.

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For us to be seventh in the nation is pretty awesome, Fort Collins coach Chris Suppes said. Yeah, the girls we're disappointed by not winning state, but people didn't understand how tough Dakota Ridge was and that was a once-in-a-life race for them (at state). We knew that we could rebound.

Rebound they did. The Lamb-kins blitzed Dakota Ridge and several other teams Nov. 17 to win the Southwest Regional and qualify for Saturday's 22-team field. Fayetteville Manlius (N.Y.) repeated as national champion.

I want to make it clear that this is the only true national championship there is, Suppes said. There's qualifying (regional) rounds and to get invited to those races you have to be very good.

Fort Collins was paced by the tandem of Lisa Reyna and Miranda Benzel. Reyna finished the 5K course in 19 minutes, 53.4 seconds to place 22nd, while Benzel came in 25th (19:58.4).

They got out a little slow, but they passed an awful lot of people and really ended up having a good race, Suppes said of the duo.

Suppes also was pleased with the performance of Rachel Viger, who finished 40th (20:18.3), and Tati Ogan, who placed 56th (20:34.6). Kirsten Follett was Fort Collins' other scorer, coming in 98th (21:11.6), while Kelsey Follett and Denise Chilson also ran for the Lambkins. The two finished 124th and 148th, respectively.

It may be too early to talk next year, but the Lambkins will be loaded. With the exception of Kelsey Follett, everyone returns for Fort Collins.

It's a huge confidence boost, Suppes said. If we can get the girls to stay dedicated and keep working hard, we'll have a lot to look forward to.