Rhett Hinkle leads a renewed and favored Rocky Ford team into the regional contest. Colorado Track XC file photo.
Pueblo isn't exactly centrally located for this region (that honor might fall to La Veta or Fort Garland), but it's close enough to work well for the San Luis Valley and SE Colorado 2A cross country programs.
In a dramatic change of fortunes for this region, it appears three boys teams and as many as four girls teams will advance to state out of this region this year. After years of struggling to survive, this region made great steps toward becoming a thriving region this fall.
Rocky Ford brings the tradition, and the horsepower, to the boys half of the meet. It will be an upset of a pretty high order if Rocky Ford fails to Melonize the region. Custer County has, by far, the best chance of upsetting the Melon cart. Among individuals, Custer County's Corey Lewenkamp shoulders the burden of favorite. Rocky Ford's Rhett Hinkle has run an outstanding set of races this fall, but Lewenkamp has prevailed when the two have met.
South Baca freshman Bryce Grahn makes for another interesting individual to watch for as the runners start to stream across the finish line.
The girls side of the meet is a little less clear-cut. There are no Rocky Ford kind of powers on this side of the ledger. On paper, Sargent looks like the team to beat, with Rocky Ford and Custer County as the most likely teams to create problems for Sargent. Sargent's Makayla Garcia owns the best time coming in of all the individuals, but--without a clearly dominant runner in the region--a lot can happen on race day.