The week ahead in cross country (updated)

Colorado Academy freshman Anna Ponzio and her Mustang teammates converge on Rock Canyon's Invitational on Saturday. Colorado Track XC file photo by Alan Versaw.

By the time this article goes live, three of the meet's weeks will already be history--the Denver North Viking Invitational, the Buena Vista Invitational, and the Woodland Park Run Above the Clouds. But, not to worry, there is plenty of cross country remaining for the rest of the week. 

In fact, it all resumes on Wednesday with the RE-1J meet at Sunset Golf Course, almost adjacent to Longmont High School. This over-hill-over-dale meet follows a more grassy than dusty trail and serves as a sort of district championship for the St. Vrain schools. It's difficult, however, to get everyone to treat it as a championship meet, so it functions in practice a lot more like a closed invitational. Like a lot of meets this week, this one also gets treated as something of a primer for the rigors of the state meet course, only without a gonzo stream crossing.

Thursday picks up with what could be the largest and most competitive meet of the weekend, the Coronado Cougar Classic. Colorado Track XC's Tim Hilt will be on hand doing coverage at this one. 

The Cougar Classic shoehorns about 40 teams into North Monument Valley Park. Parking is wherever you find it in the adjacent neighborhoods. If neigbhors didn't understand this phenomenon when they first purchased their parkside homes, they do now. The meet itself is even more competitive than the parking, which is saying a good deal. Last year, this meet turned up some of the fastest times in the state all season, but conditions aren't setting up to be quite as spectacular this year. Those ideal conditions, by the way, arrived on Friday of last week and typically don't stay past their welcome.

Friday sees a small explosion of meets. For at least two Colorado teams--Castle View and Cheyenne Mountain--California's Woodbridge Invitational beckons. We wish them well in their travels and will try to bring results back to you as quickly as possible.

Closer to home, Broomfield, Arvada West, Kennedy, Ouray, Glenwood Springs, and Fort Collins all host on Friday. Most of these meets feature fast and mostly flat courses, but if you're longing for that state-hardening kind of course, the Ouray-Ridgway Ramble at the Reservoir is what you're looking for. And, if you're missing the stream crossing, simply take a dip in the reservoir. For clarity's sake, Ouray hosts the meet and Ridgway is the name of the reservoir. And if the word "ramble" has intonations of "leisurely" when it reaches your ear, you may want to ditch that word association before you arrive.

A few notes on the Friday meets--Glenwood Springs has moved from their traditional Saturday spot on the calendar to a Friday spot. And, the meet has moved from the Colorado Mountain College soccer fields location to Glenwood Springs High School. If there's a meet this weekend that rivals the size and intensity of the Coronado Cougar Classic, that meet would be the John Martin in Fort Collins. For that matter, Broomfield is not a bad draw, either. Colorado Track XC will be on-site for the Broomfield meet as it's an hour closer to home that the John Martin.

Saturday doesn't calm down much over Friday. Saturday's docket includes meets hosted by Moffat County, Hotchkiss, Pagosa Springs, Fountain-Fort Carson, Middle Park, Rock Canyon, Sheridan, and--for the outward bound--Shiprock, New Mexico.

Moffat County, Hotchkiss, and Pagosa Springs divide up what's left of the Western Slope crowd after Glenwood and Ouray take their slices of the pie on Friday. By my calculations, that leaves a fairly thin crowd of teams for each meet. Perhaps Pagosa and Moffat County can draw a little across state lines. 

The Hotchkiss meet figures as something of a state primer. No stream crossings are planned, but a steady rain on Saturday could change that. The good news is that rain is not in the Hotchkiss Saturday forecast. The not-so-good news is that heat is in the Saturday forecast. Dobies and heat make for a tough meet. Michele Bisbee, who specializes in meet coverage under unfavorable conditions, will be on-hand for the Hotchkiss Invitational.

Middle Park's meet at Snow Mountain Ranch near Tabernash definitely qualifies as a state primer as well. This meet formerly had a cultic kind of following, but after a couple of years of hosting the meet in Granby, some of the following has likely scattered to other meets. We'll see how attendance turns out, but we're pretty sure this is the highest elevation meet available this weekend for those who like to feel the thrill of screaming lungs.

And speaking of coverage, I might make it to the Fountain-Ft. Carson meet for a little coverage on Saturday, but the timing is going to have to work right with the Colorado College Autumn Classic. The Autumn Classic, a great event to stock up on cover photos for the alumni reports, runs just early enough on Saturday morning that catching a former runner of mine at that race and then scooting out to catch some F-FC meet action seems doable as the current Saturday coverage plan.

But, you know what John Steinbeck wrote about the best laid plans of mice and men. Or at least you should.