Paige Embaugh is one of several Colorado girls who should be looking to make a little Colorado history Saturday at FLMW.
The girls race starts a little before the boys race. Seeded girls take the course and charge up the first hill at 10:40 AM CST. Just like the boys, however, there's a hard line at ten girls who will advance to San Diego in two weeks.
And, just like the Colorado boys, there's a Colorado girl going who missed a Nike Cross Nationals individual bid by one place. That would be Quinn McConnell. If the heat was any part of McConnell's story last Saturday, it shouldn't be this Saturday. The latest forecast suggests it might be as "warm" as the low 40s at race time on Saturday.
State meet medalists who will be joining McConnell on the starting line include teammate Tiana Bradfield, Paige Embaugh of Air Academy, Hannah McReavy of St. Mary's, and Addi Iken of Littleton. Golden's Mary Fox, Wheat Ridge's Tiya Chamberlin, Chaparral's Cassidy Hickey, and Lakewood's Carley Bennett are all coming off of nice performances at NXR-SW.
In terms of top ten contenders, McConnell, Iken, and Embaugh probably stand tallest, but there's a reason you lace up the shoes, show up on the starting line, and go race. There's a number of these girls who, with a big performance on Saturday, could conceivably find themselves in the hunt.
Of course, girls from other states have been entertaining the same idea.
There's no shortage of returning national qualifiers in this field. Anne Forsyth (Michigan), Lauren Peterson (Minnesota), Olivia Theis (Michigan), Mattie Shirley-Fairbairn (North Dakota), Lindsey Payne (Illinois), and Kyla Christopher-Moody (Michigan) are all back from last year's top ten. Forsyth, of course, comes back as the defending regional champion.
As if that's not enough to think about, they'll be joined by Sarah Schmitt of Illinois, Phoebe Bates of Indiana, Marie Hostetler of Iowa, Ericka VanderLende of Michigan, Emily Covert, Anna Fenske, and Tierney Wolfgram of Minnesota, Olivia Howell of Ohio, and Payton Sippy and Kate Sperka of host state Wisconsin. We haven't even talked yet about Grace Ping.
In short, there is no easy path from the southeast corner of Wisconsin to San Diego. Not even for Quinn McConnell.
Almost assuredly, with a fast track on Saturday, it will take at least 17:45 to make the cut.