After a week in which a lot of key programs around the state gave their varsity regulars a breather, it should be back to action for most of those individuals this week.
So, despite the fact we may see a week of exhaling for some teams back off a big trip to Woodbridge, the intensity of this coming week is probably up a notch or two from the intensity of the week just completed.
Action gets underway Tuesday with three meets.
Buena Vista runs their annual invitational along the Arkansas River on Tuesday. Historically, this meet has pulled well to as far away as Gunnison and Crested Butte to the west, the San Luis Valley to the south, Platte Canyon to the north, and to Woodland Park (and sometimes Colorado Springs) to the east. The northward and eastward reach has retracted a bit over the years, but the Demons still get a solid draw for a weekday meet.
Kent Denver runs a fairly small meet on Tuesday on what I understand is mostly the same course as the state meet ran on for several years up through 2002. This meet has, at least in recent years, had the distinction of having one of the very few middle school 5Ks you can find. The middle school portion of the meet is probably slightly larger than the high school portion, with about five or six high school teams figuring to be in attendance.
Tuesday's big meet is the Denver North Invitational at Willis Case Golf Course. This has been, for most of its history, a Monday meet but has shifted to Tuesday the last two years. It's mostly a very faithful following of teams that this meet draws, and most of them seem to come to the meet with more fire than weekday meets often bring. Look for somewhere around 20 Denver-area teams at this one--a very good draw for a weekday meet anywhere in the state. Some of those teams ran this past weekend, and others didn't.
Wednesday's Greeley City Championships is very much limited to the five Greeley schools--Northridge, Greeley Central, Greeley West, Frontier Academy, and University. The meet has a couple of years of history and, in that time, it's been a little hit-or-miss as to whether teams put all their varsity regulars on the course or not.
Thursday has two meets--the Coronado Cougar Classic in Colorado Springs and the John Martinez Mercury Classic in Brighton. Of those two, the Coronado meet figures to be the bigger.
The Coronado Cougar Classic is the big meet at Monument Valley Park each year. It draws exceptionally well for a Thursday meet, even if its pull has diminished somewhat in recent years (a spate of hot Thursday afternoons probably hasn't helped much on that front). Traditionally, this has been a two-division meet. I don't know if that's the case again this year, but it looks as if the field of teams is such this year that you could fit all the varsity teams on the same starting line, given the space available for that at Monument Valley Park. Entries aren't yet closed for this one, though, so perhaps we'll see more teams than what currently appear on the list.
The John Martinez meet convenes at the Adams County Fairgrounds and includes a middle school component that may eclipse the size of the high school portion of the meet.
Friday has what seems like a light Friday schedule of four meets, but there's a lot packed into those four meets.
We'll start with Dave Sanders. This is a monster meet with two divisions. Both divisions feature some stout competition. All eyes will be on Littleton this Friday. Arvada West meets Dakota Ridge meets Mountain Vista meets Green Mountain meets Grandview meets D'Evelyn meets Holy Family meets Heritage meets Elizabeth meets Evergreen, and so on down the line. You can't afford to ignore the signals that come out of this meet. And Colorado Track XC will be sending Jeff Bliven to this meet for the coverage angles.
Jeff has a lot on his plate with this meet, but Jeff's adept with the reportorial knife and fork.
After a year or two of being down a little, the Loveland Sweetheart seems to be regaining some momentum. They've billed this year's edition as a "new faster course," so perhaps that has something to do with the turn of registration fortunes. Also, it's no longer a two-division meet. The usual contingent of Wyoming teams (to include Cheyenne East) will add interest to the girls individual title race, while the nice cross section of northern Colorado schools figure to be keeping team titles in house. Mackenzie Marler may turn out to be the best-kept secret of the Wyoming season, but we know all about her down in Colorado. One particular note of interest here will concern how Heritage Christian Academy fares against the big schools. HCA has sent a couple messages already this season, and they have the horses to contend with the larger schools.
Legacy has a new meet this year at a familiar venue--Broomfield Commons Park. It's my understanding, though, that this is not the same course as Broomfield used last weekend. Some overlap, yes; same course, no. Of particular interest here is a rising Faith Christian boys team taking on some strong 5A programs like Fort Collins and Poudre. If the big dogs are all racing, that should prove to be interesting. And, Brynn Siles on the home course figures to be a solid draw as well. Being a new meet, the field is still relatively small, but it's a good draw for a first-year meet.
Finally for Friday, there's also the Ridgway Ramble at the Reservoir. If you like filling your schedule with grinders, this is your preferred meet option for the week. It's scenic, and it's a tough course. Traditionally, the meet has pulled a team or two from substantial distances, but the draw appears mostly local this year.
The larger collection of meets this week belongs to Saturday.
After a few years as a Friday meet, Pat Patten is back on Saturday. And, it figures to be a big deal this year. Aside from Resurrection Christian and Rock Canyon, the draw is strongly local, but it doesn't take too much calculation to discover there's a nice constellation of very good cross country programs within 20 or 25 miles of Viele Lake Park. Several of these teams also laid off a little last week, meaning they should be ready to get back at it this week. This one promises to be interesting. Just as all eyes figure to be on Littleton on Friday afternoon, those eyes figure to shift to Boulder on Saturday morning.
Bobby Reyes has the coverage duties for this one, with Ashley Green also manning a camera. This one rates featured coverage.
In Grand Junction, the Anna Banana Memorial tries out a new course this year. I had heard there were issues with meet size and the state parks, so I'm guessing that ultimately is the explanation for the new course. Hopefully, the ABM can retain its place as a strong leader among Western Slope meets. It looks like they've tried to retain the "fast course" feature of the meet, but it may be tough to replicate the quickness of the old ABM course.
In Pueblo, there is the venerable Pueblo Central Invitational on the Elmwood Golf Course Short Nine. It remains a great place for a meet, but the meet itself has been slowly losing teams in recent years. The field of teams retains a solidly Pueblo flavor, with others coming in from directions like Colorado Springs, La Junta, and Alamosa. If Lamar shows up here after on off weekend last week, their trip will be almost as long.
Since I'm taking a team to the Pueblo Central meet, that meet gets Colorado Track XC coverage this weekend as well.
Pagosa Springs takes their turn hosting the San Juan Basin schools, plus a few from the San Luis Valley, this weekend. The meet is still at the Reservoir Hill course. It's a challenging course, maybe even close to being as much of a grinder as the Ramble at the Reservoir.
Platte Valley hosts a large collection of northeastern Colorado schools in the sleepy little burg of Kersey. It won't be nearly as sleepy on Saturday, though, as this really is a good collection of 2A and 3A programs headed for the meet. I would guess that a few local eateries capitalize on the opportunity with a nice day at the cash register. If I was a local dining establishment, I'd think long and hard about throwing in a meet sponsorship for the right to slip a little invitation into the meet packet and perhaps an advance email to coaches during the week.
And, finally, Sheridan will be hosting a smaller set of Denver-area programs at their course on Saturday as well. I know next to nothing of the course, so there isn't much to share here.
For teams pointed beyond the boundaries of the state this year, top destinations should include Bob Firman in Idaho and Rim Rock in Kansas. Typically, you're a lot more likely to find Colorado teams at Rim Rock, though the Bob Firman has hosted some Colorado teams and individuals over the years. At the moment, I don't have word of any Colorado teams headed to either meet, so I'm just entertaining possibilities at this point when I speak of these two meets.
Update: Still no word of teams headed to Firman or Rim Rock, but I did get word that Regis Jesuit is pointed toward Griak in Minnesota. Best wishes to RJ, represent!