Like most other September collegiate meets, the Joe Vigil Open ain't what it used to be.
Oh, you could still learn a thing or two from the (rather thin) set of collegiate results from the meet, but mostly you need to wait until October to learn much from collegiate meets. One glaring exception this time around, though, is that Elias Gedyon (remember him, NXN fans?) was running for Trinidad State Junior College at this time last year. Well, that's yesterday's news. He's now wearing Adams State green.
The pipeline is open for business.
But, most of you didn't come here to read about the college portion of the meet, anyway.
Arguably, the Joe Vigil Open ranks third on this weekend's list of significant meets. So, we'll give it it's due as a high school meet here.
As a cautionary note, though, please understand that you need to take times from this meet with a serious grain of salt. Maybe an entire salt shaker. Maybe even a Costco-sized bag of salt.
I'm not saying the times aren't real; I'm merely saying that the vast majority of cross country courses run nothing like the Joe Vigil course. It's all downhill and the wind is always at your back. No, I can't explain how that is, but if you just accept it, it makes everything else so much easier.
Despite 7554 feet of altitude, the course at the Cattails Golf Course next to the Rio Grande River (ponder that redundancy for a moment, if you will) runs as fast as any in the state. Undoubtedly, it has something to do with liberal use of cart paths and probably not as much as 10 inches of vertical displacement over the entire course. There's nothing to upset a runner's rhythm here. It might also have something to do with the fact that, by the time September rolls around, mornings are typically quite cool in Alamosa.
The boys got to take the course before the girls this year, so we'll discuss the boys race first.
For whatever reason(s), Dakota Ridge makes this meet a regular part of its schedule. We might guess how Dakota Ridge feels about that, but it's also a good thing for the meet. It helps keep the meet from being a gathering of the same old group of schools from the lower third of the state (plus a handful from northern New Mexico) each year.
With Conner Ohlson taking the lead, Dakota Ridge ran to a relatively easy meet title, encountering maybe a pocket or two of resistance from Durango along the way, but not much more than that.
Austin Vancil had Ohlson's back the entire way. Their finishing times? 15:26 and 15:30. Recall what I mentioned about taking Joe Vigil times with some salt, lots of salt...
For a while, Dakota Ridge even had a 1-2-3 going, but Durango's Aidan Fitzgerald managed to break that up, as did--eventually--Blake Davis of Lamar.
But, it really didn't matter that much. When DR's Riley Abrashoff crossed the line in 12th at 16:35, Dakota Ridge was done scoring. At that point, nobody else had more than three across the line. The magic of DR's 27 team points? It's the maximum unbeatable cross country point total.
Alamosa, taking third as a team at 116 points, squashed Salida and Lamar for 3A honors. The meet thus served as a pretty decent preview of 3A Region 2, except that the actual regional meet will be contested on a course about as different from Cattails Golf Course as a cross country course can get. Amazingly enough, though, both are golf course courses.
Zuni's 256 led the outgunned New Mexico programs.
The girls took their turn an hour later.
In that race, Durango appeared to have both the team and the individual title in hand until Dakota Ridge shot Michelle Renner out of a cannon with about 400 meters to go. Until then, it was Madeleine Burns' race to lose. Evidently, we should use that expression with caution until the race is over, as Renner put 10 seconds up on Burns over that final quarter mile, winning in 18:56.
It was far from all being lost for Durango, though. The Demons completed their scoring in places 2 through 8, leaving five girls at 19:38 or faster on the day. Abby Scott, even on a day when she was feeling a bit under the weather, had the consolation prize of closing out the Durango scoring.
You know all about the times and about copious amounts salt by now.
Durango's 22 was not only unbeatable; it was also less than a third of second-place Dakota Ridge's 69. Alamosa's 86 was a more distant third that it seems on paper, but was more than enough for the Mean Moose to double up on small-school honors at their home meet.
Under the heading of experiences to write home about (it is a long trip from Alamosa back to Durango over fabled Wolf Creek Pass), Durango sophomore Kiara Hamlin not only busted out her first-ever sub-20, but also took out her previous PR by 1:14. And, for all that, she got third behind Renner and Burns.
Expect Durango to have the look of an invincible team in the 4A Girls virtual meets for at least the next few weeks.
Before we leave you to get back to the football game on television, it's worth noting that Lamar 8th grader Branden Davis ran 9:32 to win the middle school 3K. And, yes, there's a reason that surname has a suspicious ring to it.
A tip of the hat to David McMillan for helping to fill in much of the detail in this meet account!