Liberty Bell 2013: The Executive Summary

Buena Vista freshman Whitney White was a somewhat surprising winner of the Liberty Bell D4 race, but the stealth factor is pretty much gone now from the remainder of her high school career. Photo by Jeff McCoy.

In all 36 years of Liberty Bell, there's probably never been a week like this one. And, there's a long list of people hoping there's never again a week like this one in the meet's future.

Who knows where it all began, but the downhill snowball effect got its first nudge when the skies opened over mountainous regions on the west end of Bouder and Larimer counties Wednesday night into early Thursday morning. Floods ravaged towns like Jamestown and Estes Park and then flowed down narrow canyons to wreak devastation on communities like Lyons, Longmont, and Loveland, separating the plains into so many islands with no means of getting from one island to another. It was, and remains, a disaster of the first order.

Flooding also reached into Adams County and the southeast Denver Metro area, leaving those schools wondering until the very last minute if they would be able to participate.

So far is Liberty Bell was concerned, the flooding not only took out essentially every team entered from Larimer, Boulder, and Weld counties, it all effectively blocked access to the meet for any of the Wyoming schools planning to participate. Meet attendance dwindled almost in half, from the usual complement of 92 schools to about 55 schools.

You simply can't move a meet the size of Liberty Bell to another time or location. Change the location, even if you could find one to change it to, and it's no longer Liberty Bell. Change the time and you might as well change December to summer for all the upheaval that would ensue. Between meet volunteers, event permitting, and travel, the ordeal of changing the day--or even the time of day--of this meet would be beyond nightmarish proportions. 

The meet management did what they could--they ran the meet at the designated time and place--and did so with regrets for the many schools that could not make it.

Even the meet itself was subject to some gremlins, however. Littleton's Jack Robb took a fall very early in the D1 boys race and sustained a concussion. And, of course, there was the distress surrounding the disqualification of the Albuquerque Academy boys.

If it could go wrong, it did go wrong--or so it seemed.

And, yet, there were rays of hope in the mess. Symbolic of that hope was the gesture of the Cheyenne Mountain team to help Heritage clean-up after the race. It's not the first time Cheyenne Mountain has gone out of their way to be helpful. Stan Lambros's crew saved my personal hide last spring in a track meet where I hadn't thought ahead to have a hurdle crew. Gestures like this are Cheyenne Mountains stock-in-trade, and they don't get nearly the recognition they deserve for that (but I'm pretty sure their motivations lie elsewhere than the recognition).

There was the team from Scottsbluff that was able to make their way around the flooding mess in time to get to the meet and clean up on the first three places--plus five of the top eight--in the D3 boys race. This might be indicative of bigger things to come for the Bearcats. Matthew Barraza and Taylor Muncie made it a sweep of the 3A individual titles for the team in red and black.

There was Buena Vista freshman Whitney White running to the biggest racing triumph of her young life by taking the D4 girls crown. Buena Vista has clung to the memories of Rachel Gioscia's cross country exploits for nearly a decade now. Perhaps White will be the one who updates those memories for a new generation.

There was Zachary Alhamra running away from everyone and posting the day's overall best time of 15:31. If that time doesn't seem to measure up to Liberty Bell standards, be advised that conditions were not ideal for racing on Friday afternoon. The temperatures were favorable, but the humidity and oxygen density were far from ideal. A serious low-pressure system was still parked over Littleton (and much of Colorado, for that matter) on Friday afternoon.

There was the Albuquerque Academy girls, taking the girls D1 team title and thus ensuring that Adam Kedge's Chargers did not go empty-handed. You can bet there was a lot of time for reflection and discussion on that trip home. And, if you know anything of Adam Kedge, you're smiling with the settled assurance that his teams will never find again find themselves caught up in the kind of situation that evolved on Friday evening. Some people are disinclined to see the same mistakes happen twice, and Coach Kedge pitches his tent on the far end of that spectrum.

The 36th edition of the Liberty Bell Invitational will be remembered for many things--some disappointments, to be sure, but also some significant triumphs over circumstances.

Meet Results and Photos