Stampede preview, 2A and 3A

For Telluride's Anna Fake, a new season means never running alone in Miner maroon again. Colorado Track XC file photo by Paul Jaeger.

The pre-race releases from the Cheyenne Mountain Stampede indicate smaller-than-anticipated fields for the 2A and 3A races. 

For the 2A Girls race at 12:30, we'll see a field that includes CIVA, Custer County, Denver Christian, Ellicott, Evangelical Christian Academy, Heritage Christian Academy, Mancos, Nederland, Peyton, Rocky Ford, Rye, Telluride, and Wiggins. Of these, Custer County and Peyton will not have enough runners to score full teams. On the other hand, Denver Christian, Heritage Christian Academy, Nederland, Mancos, Telluride, and possibly Wiggins could be serious 2A contenders, so there will be plenty to watch for in the race. Heritage Christian Academy lists only four entries. We'll assume the Rairdon sisters make half of those entries, and we'll watch closely how the team performs on Thursday. Telluride is another team of great interest. We know they have Anna Fake and Soleil Gaylord, we don't know what else they're bringing, but it's a bigger team than the Miners have had in a while.

Next on the schedule is the 3A girls race at 1:00, though it's a fair guess the 2A race will not be finished by the time the 3A race begins. Showing up on the starting line should be The Academy, Alamosa, Buena Vista, Faith Christian, Frontier Academy, Kent Denver, La Junta, Lamar, Liberty Common, Manitou Springs, Merino (which has apparently chosen to run Bailey Walser up in this race), Moffat County, Olathe, Pagosa Springs, Peak to Peak, St. Mary's, University, and Vanguard. Curiously, Moffat County is showing only four entries. Hopefully, that is a situation that rectifies itself soon, or we'll have to wipe Moffat County from the board of 3A contenders. Alamosa, Kent Denver, Pagosa Springs, and Peak to Peak should be coming in with strong teams and looking for some early-in-the-season positioning. There are a couple more teams on this list that could surprise. And we'll be interested to see how some individuals like Whitney White, Jenna Ptaschek, Dallas Frisbie, and Brooklyn Mack fare in their first race of the season.

2A Boys toes the line at 1:30. The field of teams mirrors the 2A Girls field, only with the addition of Denver Academy. Trying to establish some high-end turf will be entries like Custer County, Rocky Ford, Heritage Christian Academy, Rye, Telluride, Mancos, and Wiggins. This race should actually tell us a great deal about how 2A will shake out this fall, though we readily concede that Lyons is not in the field. At this point, however, Lyons has little either to prove or to establish by running in this race. Some top individuals should include Jack Plantz, Corey Lewenkamp, Corban Pagnotta, Andy O'Dell, and very possibly Rocky Ford freshman Cody Danley.

The small school races will wrap up with the 3A boys race at 2:00. The field is identical to the 3A girls field. And the matchup that has everyone in the world of 3A tuning in is Vanguard vs. Alamosa vs. Lamar vs. Frontier Academy. That right there is the top four ranked teams in the 3A Boys preseason poll. Throw in Peak to Peak and Liberty Common and you have six of the top eight ranked teams in the preseason poll. There won't be a state trophy to hand out, but there will be a lot of early season pride on the line. And, there are some psychological battles to be won here as well. And, since there is no clear individual leader among the rosters of the team coming, it should be very interesting to see how the individual race plays out as well. You could make a good case for any of about half a dozen young men to emerge as the winner of this thing.

Following the 3A boys race, an armada of 4A/5A JV races takes place. According to the schedule, varsity races do not resume until 4:30 PM.

None of the 2A/3A races should be sufficiently large to tax the capacity of the course except possibly in brief sections where trail ruts may still exist on Thursday. Both the small size of the fields and the tendency of early-season races to be more spread out than races later in the season should ensure there is mostly plenty of room for everyone.