NXR-SW Outlook: Colorado Boys

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Paxton Smith enters his senior season as the leader of Vista Nation, and it promises to be an interesting year for Mountain Vista. Photo by Alan Versaw.

Colorado needs to breathe some new life into their fortunes at NXR-SW. In terms of boys, the team most people look to to fuel that dream would be Mountain Vista.

2014 Colorado State Meet Champion: Palmer Ridge or Mountain Vista (Interpret as you will, keeping in mind the heat factor of the 5A boys race)

2014 Colorado State Meet Runner-Up: Niwot (4A) or Fort Collins (5A)

Colorado Representation at NXR-SW 2014: MountainVista (5th), Palmer Ridge (10th), Fort Collins (11th), Durango (15th), Boulder (19th), Niwot (20th), The Classical Academy (21st), Monarch (25th), Alamosa (27th), Lamar (29th), Battle Mountain (30th)

Virtual Meet of Returning Runners from the 2014 Season

You could make the case that NXR-SW 2014 saw Colorado's poorest showing since the regional format was adopted in 2007. We could argue for a while about whether that's mostly due to the rise of Utah or to some other factor. But whatever the net result of all that talking might be, the Colorado folks aren't especially happy with their slipping fortunes at NXR-SW.

If Colorado is to change anything about those results in 2015, Mountain Vista will be the first team people look toward to get it done. Mountain Vista, oft referred to as Vista Nation, brings back a deep and loaded roster. You won't find lights-out kind of standout individuals on this roster, but you will find an entire team dedicated toward getting better, toward bumping up the mileage so that they can compete with the likes of American Fork and Davis. Paxton Smith is the go-to guy on the roster, and he is surrounded by runners champing at the bit to make the most of their opportunity this fall. For Smith, as for key teammates Addison Hellier and Alex Fu, this is the last season to get something done. It's do it now or wish for the rest of your life you had.

While the near-universal consensus is that Mountain Vista boasts the best team in the state (and they have won three consecutive 5A boys titles), there are also solid teams emerging at Fort Collins, Arapahoe, Palmer Ridge, Durango, and possibly Monarch as well.

Even though Palmer Ridge graduated Eric Hamer, their appear to be legions of talented runners coming up in the ranks.

Numbers is the main feature of the story at Arapahoe, Fort Collins, Durango, and Monarch. If you can't put five guys into the low 16s or better at the Casa Grande course, your chances are nil. Everyone has more or less resigned themselves to that story by now.

Interestingly, and like Mountain Vista, all of these teams except Monarch lack the take-charge-of-any-race kind of front runner.

It remains to be seen if it results in a real difference on November 21 or not, but the revision of the Colorado state meet course could possibly bring about a change in Colorado's fortunes at NXR-SW. If, as some suspect, the Colorado state meet course was beating kids up in advance of NXR-SW, this year's course revision should be somewhat easier on the body. There is no creek crossing free-for-all at 400 meters this year, and there is not nearly 150 feet of vertical between the start and the midway point this time around.

Again, whether that plays out as a real difference or not remains to be seen, but there should be some folks hopeful about that possibility.

In terms of individuals who rank as potential NXN qualifiers, Paul Roberts is back this fall to defend his berth. If Isaac Green has more left in the tank in late November than he had last year, he is a certified contender as well. Bryan Hird, Ben Butler, and Ian Meek might also figure on that list.