Saturday's Impending Boom: Middle School State

Allie Chipman of Mountain Ridge Middle School rates among the favorites to win the girls championship race on Saturday. Contributed photo.

Special to Colorado Track XC by Kyle Simcox

It’s been a relatively quiet year for the middle school scene. Here we stand the middle of October with some pretty good performances having occurred. 
That calm and quiet time is about to disappear now as we draw toward the booming echo of the 2013 Colorado State Middle School Cross Country Championships this Saturday. Since we have the time, you might want to see who some of this year’s players are, so you can understand the drama that unfolds.
By courtesy we’ll start with the ladies first. Individually, I don’t think there has anybody quite as dominant as Allie Chipman of Mountain Ridge. Undefeated on the year, Chipman has tamed quite a few tough courses, getting wins at the St. Vrain Invitational, the Littleton Runners Roost Invite, and the Dakota Ridge Invite. Impressive as the resume seems, there is one surprise among it; she is not the top returner in the state as she placed 18th at last year’s championships. 
The honor of top returner belongs to Quinn McConnell of Peak to Peak.  Now Ms. McConnell hasn’t had a bad year by any means. It’s difficult to always win especially when you are always against top competition. She has finished runner-up to Ms. Chipman at both St. Vrain and Littleton Runners Roost, but also might have one thing going for her. She has raced and won at a distance longer than even the state course, as she won the Kent Denver Sun Devil Invite, a 5K race, in an astonishing time. 
Three others to keep an eye on, as they have been close to Ms. Chipman and Ms. McConnell, would be Mari Annest of Colorado Academy, who took a win at the Platte River Invite, and Ms. McConnell’s own teammates, Anna Shults and Riley Geldean. 
The chase will be on from these girls to see who can take the crown.
As you can see from the individuals, there is a clear favorite to take the team title home. Peak to Peak looks like a Goliath in this scene. Now I can’t say they have gone undefeated as St. Vrain scores five, and Peak to Peak wound up 4th with that scoring. At the State Championships it will be a tad bit different as we score four. 
So how much of a difference does that make? Well, Peak to Peak would have been the winners at St. Vrain as they placed 2, 3, 5, and 11 for their top 4, giving a whopping 4-person score of 21. How good is that? Mountain Ridge would have placed 2nd with 31. 
This isn’t to say that Peak to Peak will run away with the title; however,  it would seem they are in a good position to claim it for themselves among great competition. And surely that competition will come from the likes of Mountain Ridge, who maybe has the depth to sneak out a victory, as well as Windsor Middle School, who always seems to be lurking around. There is also always the chance that the title never changes ownership as the Salida girls can always seem to be showing up right when they need to.
As tough as the girls is going to be, things might be a little more solved on the boy’s side. The top returner and favorite coming in is a name that if you’re racing, might send a little chill your way. Tyler Scholl. 
Scholl is the runner-up from last year and the young man has been busy. Though he doesn’t run in many middle school races, he does keep up…mainly with the older crowd doing 5K’s. Well, when you’re that young and busting out 17:05 at a race like the Golden Gallop, people do notice and they see that there is some serious talent there. 
Luckily for us, there is talent all across the state and that talent wants some of the action. Take Logan Simington of Walt Clark for example. He brings an undefeated season into the State Meet, winning at St. Vrain, John Martin, and the Sweetheart Invitational. He also has the state championship experience having run in it the past two years placing in the top 10 both times. 
It doesn’t stop there as Landon Rast of Cimarron has proved that he can run with the big boys as well. Rast has won at the Dakota Ridge Invite and finished runner-up twice. The first runner-up finish was to Simington. The second, to another young man looking to challenge for the win; Griffin Hampton of Littleton Academy at the Littleton Runners Roost Invitational. Hampton added another win at the Platte River Invite. Can any of these young men take down the guy who nearly won it last year? Saturday will tell us.
For the boys team title, it’s a similar story. You have last year’s defending champions in Westview Middle School back to try and retain the crown. They bring back a solid squad led by Jamie Lee and Brock Dykema, two runners that helped take that title last year. They don’t come in knowing the taste of an undefeated season, though, as they lost to a tough Mountain Ridge squad at St. Vrain.
Mountain Ridge’s nine are all 8th graders, and that tightness in grade is amplified in the way they run. Packing together they have put together an undefeated season so far, winning St. Vrain, Littleton Runners Roost, Platte River, and the Dakota Ridge Invite. Led by Sheldon Hafner, they have continuously put at least their top 5 into the top 15 overall in every single race. 
If these two teams aren’t enough, one more to look out for is Walt Clark Middle School. Though their results might show them a little down, they were returning 3 of the top 10 returners in the state. Can they pull that championship magic out and do it? They’ve come close before, and this could be the year.
I started by saying it’s been a relatively quiet year on the middle school front making for a booming echo of what comes Saturday. However, after re-reading this, I may have been wrong. There has been plenty of action this season. And it will just make that boom of the 2013 Colorado State Middle School Cross Country Championships that much bigger.

Listing of all Colorado middle school meets this season for which results were received