3A State Previews

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Hannah Ellis won huge at her regional last week and now faces bigger obstacles at State.

3A Girls State Preview

Top Teams in the Hunt:  Peak to Peak, Steamboat Springs, The Classical Academy, D'Evelyn, Frontier Academy

What Does Each Team Need?

Peak to Peak - The prohibitive favorite, and defending champs, bring virtually the same exact line-up as last year to Norris Penrose.  Led by nationally-ranked Quinn McConnell, along with Anna Shults and Tiana Bradfield, Peak to Peak lines up the best 1-2-3 punch in 3A.  McConnell is the individual favorite, and given that cooler conditions are forecast for Saturday, it's likely that she won't wilt in the heat as she did with a big lead last year. In 2016, she still managed to finish second, followed closely by the formidable Shults.  On any given day, Shults is a threat for the title as well. Thus, if McConnell and Shults race as they're capable of and Bradfield is somewhere near the top 10-12 places, it could be lights out for anyone else.  After their top three cross the line, they'll be counting on Allison Beasley and Ellie Triem to seal the deal for the Pumas. Therefore, it's no secret that Kim McConnell's girls will be hard to beat come Saturday. 

Steamboat Springs - The Sailors have been improving all season and creeping up the rankings in the process. They come into the state meet ranked 2nd in the final coaches poll. Fresh off a dominant performance out of the Region 1 meet, Steamboat Springs may pose the biggest threat to Peak to Peak's chances. At that meet, sophomore Maggi Congdon led a 1-2-3 finish along with teammates Winter Boese and Dasha Kuznetsova. They just may have the horses up front to offer a challenge to Peak to Peak.  However, they'll need Sadie Cotton and either Isabelle Boniface or Emily Craig to substantially close the gap, as it was a two-minute spread between Kuznetsova and Cotton at Regionals.  Nevertheless, the virtual score through three runners should be pretty tight between them and Peak to Peak, with the outcome in the balance from there.

The Classical Academy - No stranger to "being in the hunt," the Titans are seeking yet another state title.  TCA survived a tight battle with always tough Alamosa at the Region 2 meet. Without the services of recent All-Stater Chantae Steele, the Titans are still quite formidable. In fact, it's their pack that is their strength this year. So, it seems they'll have to rely upon Kaylee Thompson, who has become their number one of late, to try to squeeze into the top 10, while Katie Flaherty and McKenzie Elliott try to replicate their top 15 finishes from last year. If that happens, then The Classical Academy will be in business, as Sarah Burroughs was not too far behind Flaherty at Regionals. If Mikayla Curl or Erin Percy can be the best #5 from any team, then TCA might yet bring home another title.

D'Evelyn - The Jaguars were another squad that was involved in a close result at their regional, defeating Elizabeth by a mere three points. Freshmen rule the day at D'Evelyn as they are led by Taylor and Katelyn Haerbig, Sonja Morin, Kati Livingood, Lauren Cook, and Peyton Fritchie - all freshman, as well as junior Corin Zapico.  Sporting a tidy 60 second 1-5 pack time at regionals, the question remains how will the big stage affect all of their freshmen?  Will they be giddy as many freshmen can be, not recognizing the magnitude of the state meet, or will they feel some of the extended pressures that come along with competing at the state meet?  If the former holds true, then D'Evelyn should present a stiff challenge to all.  

Frontier Academy - The beneficiaries of the largest margin of victory in all the 3A Regionals, a whopping 75 points, the Wolverines enter state with loads of confidence.  Top runner Hannah Ellis absolutely decimated the rest of the competition at the regional, winning by a gigantic 80 second gap.  Along with Ellis, toeing the line will be Audrynn Street, Samantha Angus, Aleigha Street, and Peyton Meyer.  The issue for them will be closing the gap between Ellis and the rest of their top 5 girls. If they're successful in doing that, then FA could podium and possibly win it all at Norris Penrose on Saturday.   

Individual Analysis 

Seeking that elusive first cross country title (to go along with several in track) Quinn McConnell is the one to beat on Saturday.  Having run fast, both in state and out of state (out of country, too, for that matter), McConnell has established herself as the favorite. Undefeated in Colorado, McConnell looks to lead her team to a repeat state title as well as a team berth for NXN. Quinn qualified for NXN as an individual last year and is ranked as one of the top 12 runners nationally. In fact, she represented the USA in Italy last summer at the World Mountain Running Championships. Accolades aside, she'll still have to beat a stellar field this weekend.

If McConnell doesn't win, then her teammate Anna Shults just might. Shults has several state track titles to her name as well. Anna came in a hair behind McConnell at the state XC meet last year...so there's that.  Shults will likely be making sure that she runs a solid race so that her favored Pumas secure the team title.  Still, if there's an opening for the front, she won't be afraid to take it.

Hannah Ellis is probably next in line as a potential individual titlist. Having an excellent season, the Frontier Academy senior obliterated the field at Region 4 last Thursday.  She won't be afraid to push the pace and try to pull an upset over the aforementioned Peak to Peak runners.

Rising star Maggi Congdon won her regional and has stamped herself as a contender, though likely just outside the McConnell, Shults, Ellis triumvirate.  Additionally, Congdon might not take too many risks as she and her Steamboat teammates are looking for that perfect day to upset Peak to Peak.  That being said, she's a good one and if she doesn't surprise everyone with a shocking victory this year her name will be high atop the list of favorites in the future.

Anna Ponzio, fresh off a victory in Region 5, has enjoyed a very solid cross country career.  The Colorado Academy senior will likely be on the outside looking in, but prepared to pounce if things go awry for any of the more substantial favorites.

Rachel Ingram defeated last year's state 4th placer Hannah McReavy at Region 2 last week.  Therefore Ingram, representing Colorado Springs Christian, must be entered into the discussion as a possible titlist.  As with some of the others previously mentioned, she'll need things to go her way.  However, she's tough and strange things happen at the state meet each and every year.


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