The Meet That Rivets National Attention

Although Liberty Bell has a regional and national reputation for speed, it isn't necessarily easy to get off the starting line cleanly. Photo by Jeff McCoy.

When you have 36 years of the kind of history Liberty Bell has enjoyed, you've earned your spot among the nation's elite meets. And that is exactly where Liberty Bell stands--high among the nation's elite high school cross country meets. And especially high among the meets that are not tied to collegiate meet.

Almost nobody has feelings of indifference toward Liberty Bell. This meet doesn't allow for that sort of thing. Many coaches love this meet and the atmosphere it creates. Other coaches recognize the meet's status, but choose not to make it a part of their team's schedule. All recognize the significance of this meet.

The 2013 edition of the Liberty Bell Invitational will embody all the tradition and energy of previous editions. Expect the athletes who toe the line (or find a spot in a column four or five or six human spaces behind the line) to lay everything on the line. This meet is the PR capital of Colorado.

As a spectator, or even as a competitor, here is a glance at what you have to look forward to on Friday afternoon:


Paved streets and the canal trail don't change much over time. Both are flat, hard, and fast, like they've always been. There's barely a bump on the course, but there is a very gradual downward slant to the course that lasts until the final few meters.

Friday's forecast calls for a high in the 70s, but with a 40% chance of thunderstorms. As well all know, lightning shuts everything down in a hurrry, so there will be a definite eye toward the sky on Friday afternoon. Clouds rolling in mean sweet conditions for the runners, but if the clouds start slinging bolts of lightning, the whole show stops until things clear out. That has the potential to mean some late-into-the-evening racing on Friday, much like Arapahoe had a couple of weeks ago. Barometric pressure forecasts indicate average conditions. It's not exactly the witches' brew of optimal conditions, but under the right circumstances, things could turn out highly favorable for some very fast races.

Division I

Albuquerque Academy makes their annual trip up from the Land of Enchantment for this one. The Chargers are revitalized on the boys side and also have their best girls team in recent memory coming up. Both squads should help to give us a good measure of the relative strength of New Mexico's top teams versus Colorado's top teams. And AA does have a history of taking home the big hardware from this meet...

AA will be squaring off against the likes of Arapahoe, Boulder, Cherry Creek, Fort Collins, Grandview, Heritage, Fossil Ridge, and Monarch. The DI competition will be as intense as anyone can remember. And, if you're thinking that a couple of the schools that are in DI used to be in DII, you would be correct in that observation. Whether the selections came by design or by actual current enrollment counts, we are staring down something pretty special in DI. 

It's a neutral course, so each of Monarch, Cherry Creek, and Fort Collins will come to the line on equal footing. We should get a very clear early midseason reading of the strengths of these three girls powers coming out of this race.

For the boys, Mountain Vista is headed to Pueblo for the weekend, but pretty much the rest of the 5A powers will be sharing a common starting line and a common set of dreams at this one.

Division II

The girls matchup between Thompson Valley, Battle Mountain, Cheyenne Mountain,  Dakota Ridge, Pine Creek, Rock Canyon, Wheat Ridge, and ThunderRidge has the look of something special. Boys teams clamoring for the title will include Pomona, Cheyenne Mountain, Broomfield, Dakota Ridge, Thornton, and perhaps a couple more. Look for sparks to fly on the guys' side as well. There are probably more teams with a realistic shot of winning a team title in DII than in any other division--and that would include both boys and girls.

For the record, Cheyenne Mountain has five meets in already this season, so figure on seeing William Mayhew on their boys roster for Friday. If you haven't been counting on Cheyenne Mountain in 4A boys, Mayhew could be the game-changer that brings a new perspective to your horizon.

Division III

Can anyone hold back visiting Laramie? That's a big question here. Scottsbluff is another out-of-state team that could be trouble. The locals will have their hands full here. Although it's still a little early to have great reads on all of the teams converging on DIII, Evergreen and Mountain View would be safe bets to be among the top Colorado teams in this division, and perhaps especially so on the girls side.

Division IV

The small schools will have their say at Liberty Bell as well. The Colorado Academy girls get an opportunity to back up what they said at St. Vrain. Frontier Academy, Holy Family, Peak to Peak, and Estes Park will each be looking to assert a little dominance among their peers (Interestingly, Estes Park ran their regulars in the JV division at Tuesday night's Elizabeth Invitational--we'll see what import that has for Friday's big event.). Berthoud is the lone 4A school in this division and could prove to be trouble for the assembled 2A and 3A squads.


Assuming everyone is healthy and entered, local individuals will offer plenty to see.

We'll wait to see if Jordyn Colter can drop below 17 this year. She won't have help from Elise Cranny or Katie Rainsberger in that effort, but she didn't have it last year, either, when she smashed the existing course record. Although Lauren Gregory has some experience with racing on a large stage, this will be her first trip to Liberty Bell. We're anxious to see what that will produce. We could make a very lengthy list of standout DI girls, but suffice it to say they're not all guaranteed top-10 medals. There's just too many of them for that to happen.

In DI boys, Jacob Lucero gets to defend his Cherry Creek title against Dom Compoz of Chaparral, Daniel Book and Shane Rhodes of Cherry Creek, Paul Miller of Poudre, and a few more. Right now, this appears to be a wide open field and a gilt-edged opportunity for someone to make a big statement. Cerake Geberkidane will not be there.

Zachary Alhamra and Marcel Laguera could make for a very interesing contest in DII boys. Are there others who will stay with them? We shall see. Carson Hume, for one, had a nice win last weekend and may be coming in feeling some momentum.

In DII girls, TV's top three will be looking to validate times from last weekend's invitational at St. Mary's Academy. Pine Creek comes with their big three of Sered, Sered, and Kroeker. Pomona, of course, brings Alaina Anderson. Battle Mountain brings Val Constien. The possibilities abound even before we start looking at the sleepers in this crowd (and there are a couple of sleepers, too).

Riley Cooney and Devundrick Walker are clearly members of the watch list in DIII. We will see which others seize the opportunity to step into the limelight.

In DIV, Luke Yeager will attempt to regain his sophomore year title from this meet. His performance at St. Vrain last weekend says it's possible. Kiah Leonard just might be your favorite on the girls side of things, but if Tabor Scholl (Middle Park) is back from the World Mountain Running Championships, she, too, figures to have a say in final outcome.

It's always a grand event. If you can make room in your schedule, you owe it to yourself to get there and enjoy the spectacle.

And, if you're feeling a little pinched for personal space, find your perspective by taking a glance over at the starting line.

Liberty Bell Meet Page