If you were figuring on the Arvada West girls rolling over and playing dead for the Jeffco 5A title, you'd be sadly mistaken about that. Photo by Della Moore.
In terms of sheer number of meets, this may be the busiest week of meets of the entire season. Leagues aren't very large, so there are no jumbo-sized meets swallowing up large numbers of teams this week.
That's not to say that every league is having a meet. In fact, a few aren't. And, a few more had their league meet last week (Mile High, Patriot, and Northern). But, many of those teams will be in action, in some form or fashion, this week. So, let's take the week day by day and see what's coming up. Each league meet shown below is linked to a virtual meet for either gender for that league (note that these are subscription content).
Everyone can inhale on Monday--you'll need all that air later in the week as there won't be much time to breathe once the meets get started.
Denver Prep League (Boys/Girls) - The course is a screamer of a course with lots of hard surface at Bear Valley Park. Rumors are rampant that Cerake Geberkidane will go for Adam Goucher's all-time mark at this one.
Tri Valley League (Boys/Girls) - These are the smaller 4A schools that were mostly once part of the territory of the Northern League--Berthoud, Windsor, Frederick, Mead, and the like. Berthoud is hosting this year. This meet has the look of being an excellent showcase for the Erie boys, who have been enjoying a highly successful season to date. The girls race figures to be relatively close among at least three teams.
Frontier League (Boys/Girls) - Sheridan is hosting this year. This could be a fairly large meet except many of the Frontier League schools don't have cross country. Platte Canyon seems the obvious favorite among the boys; a girls favorite is not nearly so clear.
University 2-Mile Break Your Pace - It's not a league meet, and it's the shortest high school cross country race of the season in Colorado. But, it's also a chance for (mostly) Patriot League schools who want to keep a racing edge between their league meet and their regional meet to do exactly that. Right now, Highland, Yuma, Sterling, University, and Strasburg are on the list of teams coming. There could end up being more.
Continental League (Boys/Girls) - Mountain Vista hosts what is probably the largest league meet in the state. Somehow, "Continental" seems highly appropriate to this group, even if it is disproportionately Douglas County. Mountain Vista has a few trails and such around their campus that the aim to make use of for this meet. Hopefully, there's some bandwidth on those trails because 12 big schools can make for a lot of traffic. It should be a very exciting showdown between the ThunderRidge, Rock Canyon, Regis Jesuit, Castle View, and Mountain Vista girls, Mountain Vista sat their regular boys, so it would seem that anyone who's not suffering from a severe hangnail--or something of that order--should be in uniform on Thursday.
John Thornton Invitational - This meet is in Blanding, Utah, for those for whom that city name means anything. It's a good league meet week kind of place to escape for schools like Mancos, Dolores, and Montezuma-Cortez. I can't help you with who John Thornton is/was.
South-Central League (Boys/Girls) - While the Elmwood Short Nine may no longer host the state meet, it is far from retired as a cross country course. This week, it hosts, as it always does, the South-Central League meet. If we see the same Pueblo West boys we saw at Doherty on Thursday, they would be a likely candidate to run away with this thing. The girls could get very cozy between Pueblo South, Pueblo West, and Canon City.
Black Forest League (Boys/Girls) - This one out in Peyton figures to be the farewell of The Vanguard School to the Black Forest League and, unless the seriously unload, they will go in as favorites to win this one.
Centennial League (Boys/Girls) - Always big (these are some big schools), always hotly contested, almost always at DeKoevend Park. While there are several solid teams in this league this year, the boys showdown between Cherry Creek and Arapahoe looms largest here.
Colorado Springs Metro League (4A Boys/4A Girls/5A Boys/5A Girls) - They'll run a combined race on the campus of Fountain-Ft. Carson High School, but the long-time tradition here is that the scoring is split out between the 4A and 5A divisions. Last year, Coronado dominated the 4A division to the tune of the top seven places in both the boys and girls races. Woodland Park holds the best hope of breaking the up this year on the girls side, and Widefield on the boys side. Peter Jennings is calling the 5A boys race too close to call with only a few early precincts reporting. If Pine Creek runs the regulars, they go in as favorites in the 5A girls division.
District 51 Championships (Boys/Girls) - Where is District 51, you say? How very Front Range-centric of you. District 51 is Mesa County--you've seen the sign on I-70: Monuments, Mesas, and Memories. That kind of thing. It's also home to Grand Junction, Central (Grand Junction), Fruita Monument, Palisade, and, I believe, DeBeque. Being severely outsized, however, DeBeque would not be a favorite to win this thing. In case you hadn't noticed, Grand Junction has become something of a rising power on the western slope and should be favored to win the girls race. The Tigers and Wildcats will fight tooth and nail for the boys title. And, we'll wait anxiously to see if Greta Van Calcar is running.
Rifle Invitational - Yes, indeed, an invitational meet in league meet week (and, wait, there will be another as well). Technically, there is a Western Slope League, but it never really has gotten together for a league meet. So, expect all the I-70 corridor schools, Meeker, Moffat County, Steamboat, and perhaps a few others to show up in Rifle. Well, actually, I think the Rifle Creek Golf Course is a couple miles out of town toward Rifle Gap Falls, but I don't golf and so I could easily be mistaken on my golf course directions. In case you're wondering, the schools south of the I-70 corridor have typically headed to Montrose for a cross country relays meet. I'm not sure if that meet is happening this year or not--haven't received any word about it, in any case.
Friday (which will be nearly as busy as Thursday)
3A Metro League (Boys/Girls) - The Holy Family course would be lonely without this meet, but it may have to learn how to cope with being lonely next year when HF moves up to 4A. The Peak to Peak boys come down from Louisville as favorites, but HF and Faith Christian will give chase. The girls race could actually be extremely good between Holy Family, Peak to Peak, Colorado Academy, and Kent Denver. If CA and KD are to put together big seasons--as they are both capable of--this is the time to start getting things fired up.
Eric Wolff Invitational - It's an invitational, but also a sort of combined league meet. The IML just might settle their league title here. The Southern Peaks just might do the same. One league scores four, the other league scores three. And figure a school or two who fits into neither category shows up as well. This is the kind of meet where a timing company can earn their pay in a hurry. It all takes place on the Monte Vista golf course, which has a reputation akin to its neighbor course in Alamosa (fast). Figure on Alamosa being here, but history indicates it's not a given which group they will run. We'll just wait and see what happens here.
Front Range Conference (Boys/Girls) - We all heard about the kind of magic that happened on the Fossil Ridge course this past Saturday. Can they reprise it here on Friday? We shall see. Traditinally, this has been a meet of Fort Collins taking on all comers. And, there are some serious comers this year. Fort Collins--both boys and girls--should face challenges from the likes of Monarch, Boulder, Fossil Ridge, Legacy, Fairview, and perhaps even a few others. Figure a lot of folks have an interest in showing well here.
Jefferson County League (4A Boys/4A Girls/5A Boys/5A Girls) - Like the CS Metro, this one splits into two divisions. Lucky for them, they picked a venue big enough to handle it all--Clement Park adjacent to Columbine High School. Evergreen just might be the top 4A girls team, but look for Wheat Ridge and D'Evelyn to want a say in that. Evergreen gets to try to hold off a whole passel of teams in the boys division. 5A boys looks like a nifty little showdown between Pomona, Dakota Ridge, and Arvada West. And, it doesn't get any clearer with the girls staring down a contest between Dakota Ridge, Ralston Valley, and Arvada West.
Tri-Peaks League (Boys/Girls) - The boys will look to see if anyone can take down Lamar. The girls will look to see if anyone can take down Salida. These schools have been the dominant Tri-Peaks forces all season long. Pathfinder Park is the place. It's a pleasant little park as parks go, and completely lacking in any thing that might qualify as a hill (at least on the side of the river everyone runs on). There is, however, a cool little dip about 200 meters before the finish line. Oh, and kind of mentally toss The Classical Academy out of the virtual meet scoring linked above. The Titans are still technically part of the Tri-Peaks League, but are homeless so far as cross country leagues are concerend.
Wiggins Invitational - Mario Garcia and company get all the Saturday marbles. Anyone without a league meet, or even with a league meet but still wanting a PR, is invited to the Wiggins
Road Race Cross Country Invitational. You can almost see those corn stalks moving with the push of air from the runners sprinting by. If this is not the fastest legitimate 5K in Colorado, I can't imagine what would be. Figure on seeing, in addition to the usual assortment of league-less schools, a few Mile High Leaguers, a few Patriot Leaguers, maybe a couple Tri Valley Leaguers, and Denver North.
And, I think that gets us through the coming week of cross country.