The first Joe Davis Classic (then the Vista Ridge Invitational) gets underway with Joseph DeMoor, Steven Stoot, and Shawn Dubbs taking an early lead. Colorado Track XC file photo.
Every once in a while, I get overwhelmed with an urge to fill in some history on this site. Then I think about how inadequate I am to the task. I've been around the coaching game for 14 years now, and that's a mere shadow of how long some other coaches have been at it.
But, the Joe Davis Classic is one meet whose history I can speak to.
The meet has been in commission since 2008. Only at that time it wasn't called the Joe Davis Classic. It was simply the Vista Ridge Invitational, largely because Joe Davis was still coaching. In fact, Vista Ridge High School was established in 2008.
Joe Davis, who had previously been a football coach and more recently had coached track and cross country came at Sand Creek High School came over from Sand Creek to help open the new building at Vista Ridge. He would also be the coach to get the Vista Ridge cross country program off the ground. It meant leaving a few pretty good athletes over at Sand Creek, but Joe's heart, though late in his career, was set on getting the new program off the ground in a successful sort of way.
As it turns out, Joe was very successful in getting the program established. If you can remember back a few years, Beth Luckel, Amanda McCann, and Racquel Valadez were three of the members of that inaugural team who would go on to enjoy nice high school careers.
Although the Joe Davis Invitational is now contested at Monument Valley Park in Colorado Springs, the inaugural meet was held at Cottonwood Creek Park. Some of the vagaries associated with running along the north side of Cottonwood Creek, however would lead to the change in venue.
If you scan through the results of the first meet, you find a good crop of eventual state champions among the top finishers. Joseph DeMoor, Steven Stoot, Shawn Dubbs, Beth Luckel, and Emily LaValley would go on to win at least one individual state title each in cross country and/or track and field. Few meets can claim that kind of success ratio in their first outing.
Teams participating in the first Vista Ridge Invitational included Woodland Park, Fountain Valley, Buena Vista, Liberty, The Classical Academy, Discovery Canyon, Manitou Springs, and Pine Creek. Woodland Park, led by Shawn Dubbs, would win the boys title, while Emily LaValley's individual title would help TCA to the girls title.
The second year of the meet, and for several years following, would see decreased team participation off of the inaugural meet. The meet was scheduled on opening weekend and provided mostly a place to send JV runners without getting them overwhelmed in the massive fields of the state meet. The meet featured both a 5k featured event, and a two-mile race for those new to cross country and not quite fully prepared to race the 5K distance. Still, the list of athletes competing in the meet would include several who would go on to some spectacular high school careers.
By 2010, Scott Winter had taken over the Vista Ridge cross country program, and in 2011 the name of the meet changed over to the Joe Davis Classic.
The next big change came in 2012, when the meet moved to the second week of the season. As good as the meet was for the younger, developing set of cross country runners, it was a meet doomed to perpetually struggle if it stayed in the opening week of the season, fated to compete against not only the pre-state meet, but the Arapahoe Warrior Invitational as well.
2012 was the first year that The Classical Academy did not send a team to the meet, but it was also a turn in the fortunes of the meet as team participation rose sharply over previous years.
2013 appears to be another solid outing setting up for the meet that honors the career of Joe Davis. Comfortably settled now into the second Thursday of the season on the desirable Monument Valley Park course, teams registered for the meet include the Colorado Springs School, Discovery Canyon, Florence, Frontier Academy, Manitou Springs, Palmer Ridge, Peyton, and, of course, Vista Ridge. Doubtless a few other teams are on the list of schools attending as well.
The list of teams should make the 2013 Joe Davis Classic very competitive mid-sized school meet. Colorado Track XC has decided to include the Joe Davis Classic on the list of meets to receive on-site coverage for this week. So, look for photos and an article to appear late Thursday evening or Friday morning. I cannot speak to whether or not Joe Davis will be present at the meet but, if he is, take the opportunity to shake the hand of a man who gave much of his life to the betterment of high school cross country in Colorado Springs.