Cruz Culpepper has some lost time to make up for in cross country this fall.
It was a year ago that Kelly Christensen pulled up roots at Palmer Ridge and took the open position at Niwot.
One summer wasn't a lot of time to build a program, one that had lapsed into a bit of lethargy, into a top title contender. But, 15 months just might be enough time.
If you take the time to scan the lists of returning runners, Niwot is sitting in an enviable position relative to most of 4A.
Due to transfer rule considerations, Cruz Culpepper sat out last fall from varsity-level competition. We got a few hints in track season of what the potential is for Culpepper (and, yes, if you think that surname sounds somehow familiar, it probably is). As a freshman this spring, Culpepper turned times of 4:32 and 10:11.
He could very well be at the front of the pack for Niwot this fall.
And, Niwot boasts a long list of additional guys who ran under 4:55 minutes for 1600 meters this spring. That list includes Oskar Wells, Benjamin Bi, Kenny Lang, Ethan Steiner, Kamran Elahi, and Jack Volf. Wells and Steiner ran 4:40 or better. Three more ran under five minutes.
Five of the same guys who were sub-4:55s, plus Peter LaCavalier, ran under 11 minutes for 3200 meters. Lang, Culpepper, and Steiner each had at least one time in the sub-10:20 range. While that doesn't get you a lot of track and field attention, it is the foundation of a very good cross country team.
Niwot will definitely not be lacking for guys to fill a varsity roster this fall. The real question here is whether they can, cumulatively, get fast enough by the end of October to run with the likes of Palmer Ridge, Silver Creek, Centaurus, and Cheyenne Mountain.
The abundance of guys who can run varsity-level times should mean that they start pushing one another for those seven positions. When you have that kind of magic brewing to perhaps as many as 10 or 12 guys deep, the chances that the top five can run with anyone in the classification get a lot better.
So, watch Niwot closely out of the gate this fall. They just might be your new 4A Boys team of destiny. And, if not this year, it could be they're only a year away from that.