Another exciting weekend of track and field action should be busting out of the blocks on Friday. Photo by Kenny Regan.
Last weekend, there were four rankings meets spread across the entire state. Blame it on spring break.
There are still plenty of schools on spring break this week, but the meet count is back up to something a whole lot more like normal. At last count there will be a total of 15 rankings meets on Friday and Saturday.
Eagle Valley and Palisade get to figure out how to divide up the wealth of western Colorado teams, but there are plenty enough western slope schools to keep both meets at a decent size. Some of the San Juan Basin schools will skip the trip over the San Juans and travel instead to Aztec, New Mexico. But the rest of the western slope schools figure to be competing either in Gypsum or at Stocker Stadium in Grand Junction. As of this writing, it appears that the Frank Woodburn meet in Grand Junction will be tilting slightly more toward larger schools and the Eagle Valley meet in Gypsum tilting slightly more toward smaller schools.
The small schools east of the Continental Divide figure to be going mostlyh to one of two places. The lion's share of those schools are aiming at the granddaddy of all small school meets in Colorado--the Warren Mitchell Invitational in Limon. This meet is a great early-season barometer on which teams and individual have state meet placing kind of potential. Limon's Gaskill Field figures to be busy and crowded on Saturday.
But, travel to Limon gets a little extensive for some mountain schools and San Luis Valley schools. For those schools, there is the Sangre de Cristo Invitational just north of Mosca. "Mosca" means fly in Spanish, but it's still early enough in the year that biting flies shouldn't be an issue. Wind maybe, but flies no. Then again, wind could be a problem pretty much anywhere in the state in April.
The rest of the weekend's meets are scattered all up and down the Front Range. From Pueblo to Greeley and Fort Collins, there's plenty to choose from.
Pueblo County hosts at Dutch Clark, but with enough clouds in the forecast to likely keep it from becoming the Dutch Oven this time around. Incidentally, this will be the first meet at Dutch Clark this year. The meet previously scheduled for DC lost out to the storm front that put the entire Front Range into the deep freeze on March 23.
Sand Creek (Friday) and Palmer (Saturday) are hosting in Colorado Springs. Sand Creek has moved their meet from the traditional venue at Sand Creek High School to neighboring Vista Ridge High School. In this way, the pole vault can be held at the same site as the rest of the meet. Palmer, of course, hosts at venerable Garry Berry Stadium on Saturday.
Among the Douglas County Schools, both ThunderRidge and Legend are hosting this weekend. ThunderRidge hosts a smaller affair at their own place called simply "The Track Meet at ThunderRidge." The idea appeals to Fort Collins, Chaparral, Doherty, Broomfield, Mullen, and, of course, ThunderRidge. Legend is hosting at Sports Authority Stadium on Saturday for people who like their track meets a little larger.
At more or less the opposite end of the Denver Metro area, Mountain Range hosts at their district stadium conveniently located right next to I-25 (access to the stadium, however, isn't quite as simple as the view of the stadium from I-25 would suggest--be sure you look up the directions for getting there). The Mustangs are currently staring down a comfortable field of 15 - 20 teams.
Up north, if you're a large school, you're probably opting for the Longmont or Poudre Invitational. The folks at Longmont have asked me to remind you that you are always welcome at Everly-Montgomery field, but the pooch--no matter how well-adjusted to crowds of people--is not. Please leave the dogs at home at all St. Vrain Valley School District events (this would also apply to the Boulder County, St. Vrain, and Northern League meets later this spring). Matters of canine attendance aside, both the Longmont and Poudre meets figure to be reasonably competitive mid-sized meets.
The northern set of 3A, and a scattering of smaller 4A, schools figure to be headed to Nottingham Field, not to be confused with Nottingham Woods, on the campus of the University of Northern Colorado. Valley High School out of nearby Gilcrest hosts this affair, and the stadium should help to accommodate what figures to become a pretty large crowd.
So, there you have it! A meet and a place for everybody. Well, almost everybody...
And that would be my segue into acknowledging that this weekend also happens to be the weekend for the Arcadia Invitational in sunny southern California. Colorado always sends a few top-tier athletes out to Arcadia, and this year figures to be no exception. Indeed, the trend toward attending out-of-state meets seems to be a growing one among Colorado high school athletes. So, we'll keep a close eye on results coming out of Arcadia as well.