Refamiliarize yourself with the Blue Blob of Broomfield. They're going to be a load to handle.
It's almost August. Before we know it, the Utah teams will be hip-deep in competition. It's not too soon to start talking about top teams, so let's do it.
We'll start with a brief overview of the top ten teams from last year's NXR-SW, the move to a more free-form discussion of the possibilities for this year. I'll slide the free-form discussion to a second page that you can access by clicking on a Next link at the bottom of this page.
2016's Top Ten
1. Mountain Vista - Vista Nation brings back a team and a coaching staff from last year that is largely intact. Mauren Fitzsimmons and Madison Easton (their #4 and #7 runners at NXR-SW last fall) have graduated, but this team has plenty of depth left over to fill this year's roster. Specifically, the front three of Sarah O'Sullivan, Jenna Fitzsimmons, and Caroline Eck are all back. Also back for her senior year is Allie Chipman. Chipman has dealt with illness and injury through most of her high school career, but if she can get fully back on track, she is a force to be reckoned with. Mountain Vista will definitely be back in the hunt this fall.
2. Desert Vista - The most important piece of news to attach to this team summary is that Jeff Messer is no longer at the reins coaching this team. Messer was never one of the varsity seven for Desert Vista, but it's tough to overestimate his importance to this team. And, four of the scoring seven (plus a few more down the order of the top 14) of last year's regional team also won't be back. Figure that Desert Vista will be a good team once again next year, but it could take something of a minor miracle to bring them back to what they were last year. Haley Wolff and Brooklyn Christophis figure to step into the leading roles.
3. Broomfield - Only one of last year's top seven doesn't return this year. And, there are at least three more waiting in the wings to step into a varsity position. It's leadership by committee on this team. On any given Saturday, the #1 slot could go any of several different directions, but Madison Mooney and Ivy Gonzales are the most likely to be at the front of the Blue Blob.
4. American Fork - The first Southwest team out of Nike Cross Nationals last fall was a very good team. But, if American Fork aims to be back at the same position, or higher, this fall, there's some serious rebuilding to be done. Five of last year's regional seven graduated, leaving Lexi Wright and Lacie Evans as the foundational pieces to build on this year. American Fork is an enormous school by NXR-SW standards, so there will be bodies to choose from, but it figures to be a long way back for the Cavewomen.
5. Battle Mountain - Like the other Colorado teams, Battle Mountain brings just about everybody back (including the pied piper of a coach) and figures to be very tough once again this fall. If they're not having NXN thoughts at Battle Mountain, they're selling themselves short. The front threesome of Naomi Harding, Lizzy Harding, and Elizabeth Constien matches well with anyone in the region. If the Huskies can work a little improvement at 4 and 5, they could potentially snare a top-two finish and leave someone else to wait a week for the at-large bid.
6. Davis - If you haven't heard the news, Davis head coach Corbin Talley is now the former Davis head coach, having taken the equivalent position at Weber State University. Remind yourself that almost nobody ever moves from coaching in the high school ranks to coaching in the DI ranks. Talley leaves behind an enormous legacy at Davis. So, the obvious question becomes one of how the Darts will respond to the new coaching regime. It's way too soon to tell on that, so watch this team closely for a few weeks to see what happens. Like American Fork, Davis lost five of its regional seven to graduation, leaving Alicia Halverson, Abi Waddoups, and Madeline English to shoulder a substantial load. Davis has been a fixture among the region's contending teams. It will be interesting to see what this year holds for them.
7. Rio Rancho - It's been a while since a New Mexico team finished this high in the region. The Rams didn't get hit quite as hard by graduation as a couple of the other regional top ten, but three of the seven have left their high school careers behind. Rio Rancho figures as a likely candidate to once again be New Mexico's top girls program--with Reina Paredes and Andi Almodovar taking leading roles--but it will be an uphill battle for this year's team to be as strong as last year's. Rio Rancho has proven their willingness to travel and they may go find themselves some important big meet experience in a different state once again this fall.
8. Pine View - Pine View is from the St. George area in southwestern Utah. As such, they're a low-elevation school, but one that seems to compete pretty well at both higher and lower altitudes. Only their #4 from last year's regional team graduated, so this team could be back this year with designs on climbing a couple rungs on the ladder. Toward that end, it's entirely possible they go looking for some big-meet experience outside the borders of Utah this fall; we'll see. Jessica Hill, Caroline Clements, and Ellie Bushar provide experience and proven ability.
9. Monarch - The Coyotes took a couple of big hits the graduation. The names they bring back aren't as familiar as the ones who graduated, but this is still a capable and dangerous team. They may have to lean hard on pack time more than top-end finishers, but that's often a more reliable road to the top, anyway. Liz Hogan and Hailey Leader figure as the likely go-to girls on this fall's team.
10. Peak to Peak - Last year's 10th-place finish was probably a bit of a disappointment for this team. Certainly, at points in the season, they projected to finish a lot higher than that. The big three of Quinn McConnell, Anna Shults, and Tiana Bradfield are all back. NXR-SW success for this team means bringing the 4 and 5 up closer to the top three. If they can get that done, they're dangerous.