Mixing invitationals and league meets: the week ahead

Laurel Davis and friends take their turn at hosting at meet Wednesday at Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield. They have a long guest list. Photo by Alan Versaw.

For some schools, this week holds an invitational. For other schools, it holds a league meet. And, for a very few schools, it holds both. Generally speaking, league meets tend to be smaller than invitationals, so the actual count of meets is up a little for this week (and I'm still not sure I have word of all the meets happening across the state this week).

The train leaves the station tomorrow with smallish invitationals hosted by Brighton and Del Norte, and the freshman/sophomore division of the Pat Amato hosted by Northglenn. Brighton takes their teams to the Adams County Fairgrounds, Del Norte to the golf course in South Fork, and Pat Amato to the Northglenn Open Spaces Park.

The first league meet of the fall wraps a double circuit around Peyton High School on Wednesday. There, the Black Forest League will crown its 2014 champions. But, the (much) bigger meet on Wednesday is up at the Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield. Inspired, perhaps, by the success their feeder school had at hosting the Middle School State Championships there last fall, Dakota Ridge made the break from their tradition course, a more or less on-campus circuit in favor of the faster track and greater spectator friendliness of the Denver Botanic Gardens loops. As weekday invitationals go, this one should be fairly large.

Expect also for several San Juan Basin schools to show up for a Wednesday affair in Blanding, Utah. When you live in Dolores, Montezuma, La Plata, and Archuleta Counties, you take meets where you can find them.

We get a couple more league meets on Thursday. Going at it for league bragging rights will be the Mile High League, on a reconfigured course at The Dawson School, and the 3A Metro League, running on a course desginated as somewhere "east of Louisville." In this case, I'm guessing east of Louisville probably also means west of Lafayette and Broomfield, which should help to narrow the possibilities down considerably. The 3A Metro League had to abandon their traditional league champion proving grounds when Holy Family migrated to 4A this year.

There are also two invitationals on Thursday. Down in Colorado Springs, we have the Doherty Spartan Invitational on a Bear Creek Park course that traverses much of the same trail system as the state meet course, and, just outside of Las Animas, we have the La Junta Invitational at Bent's Fort National Historic Site--home of some snakes of legendary size that have a disturbing propensity to sunbathe on the course during the early weeks of fall. I think it's a reasonably safe assumption that the La Junta crew will make every effort to shoo said snakes from the course before the racing begins, however. This meet can also be thought of as the Lower Arkansas Valley Championships, but the meet may have lost a little luster with the failure of South Baca to field a team this year.

It's not an especially busy Friday schedule, but there are a couple of big meets happening on Friday. The Andy Myers meet runs in Greeley, while the Pat Amato Classic (the regular varsity version) runs at Northglenn Open Spaces Park. Pat Amato has run very fast the last two years and the weather forecast appears to be smiling on Pat Amato once again this year. And so the reputation grows...

For those whose tastes tend toward smaller, there is the Centennial Invitational in San Luis, south and east of Alamosa but still in the San Luis Valley.

And for those whose tastes tend toward mega-sized, there is the Desert Twilight in Casa Grande, Arizona. Several Colorado individuals and teams are making their way to Arizona for this one. As a side note, the rainfall in southern Arizona has been burying all previous records for this month and conditions may not be just exactly as everyone might otherwise have anticipated.

Saturday action picks up with two league meets--the Frontier and Patriot Leagues--and a nice list of invitationals. The Frontier League meet appears to be headed for Snow Mountain Ranch (Is it just me, or is just about everyone in the state trying to harden themselves for the state meet course this fall?), while the Patriot League seeks a more subdued setting for their league meet in Sterling.

Saturday invitationals include the pavement-dense Windjammer Invitational in Englewood, the widow maker in Aspen named in honor of Chris Severy, the Delta Pantherfest for those who prefer something a little different that a 1.5 mile hill climb followed abruptly by a 1.5 mile careening descent, the Montezuma-Cortez Ancient Trails meet (this one promises to get alternately slick and sticky if the Arizona rain is making its way as far north as Cortez), and the TCA Titan Thunder in Fountain. Between these five meets, we have just about everybody's taste in cross country covered somewhere.

As usual, meet results will post here as quickly as we get them. Colorado Track XC coverage this week goes to Doherty and the TCA Titan Thunder. There's a possibility of adding another meet, but I have to find the staffing to do it--and on short notice.