Emily Black has been having a nice debut season for Thompson Valley. She'll be part of the showdown at Longmont's Sunset Golf Course on Friday. Photo by Alan Versaw.
Time to start with another weekend's worth of start lists...
We've already previewed this one here. And, rumor has it the course has been worked over and improved from last year. Somebody in the league passed that information along to me with a note of appreciation for Kim McConnell's efforts.
Although a small meet, the convergence of mostly-loaded rosters from more northerly 4A programs Glenwood Springs, Steamboat Springs, and Battle Mountain could give us an interesting preview of the shape of the 4A regional to come back here in two weeks.
Always one of the biggest meets of the last traditional weekend before league meets, the Doherty Spartan is once again a very large meet this year. A nice 3A matchup looms between Vanguard and Alamosa, two schools come in from out-of-state, and several Colorado Springs and Pueblo larger schools take one last tune-up before the championship season begins.
Friday's forecast calls for a cooler day, so perhaps this one runs faster than anyone is anticipating. The teams visiting from Garden City and Austin would find just about any Coloado Springs temperature in October pleasant, but the rest of the teams might find a little extra to enjoy, too.
There won't be much golfing getting done at Longmont's Sunset Golf Course on Thurdsay afternoon. It's either that or there's a whole new definition of "playing through" about to be unloaded on some unsuspecting folks.
It will be interesting to see if Silver Creek can parlay their experience on this demanding course into a bit of a surprise win (or two, possibly) over their Northern League rivals. Niwot, of course, has a lot of experience on the same course, so Silver Creek probably gains no advantage on the Cougars here.
In addition to Silver Creek and Niwot, look for strong efforts from Mountain View, Thompson Valley, Centaurus, and, well, just about everybody.
There's a history of very close team finishes at this meet, so be sure to play close attention, and make a beeline for the results as soon as they're posted.
You can safely figure that any league meet occurring this week is intended to create an opportunity for the teams involved to vigorously pursue a team title and still have some down time from racing before the regional meet. This league meet would be no expection.
On the assumption that the team involved are going all in for the crown, Frontier Academy jumps out as the boys team favorite. The girls race figures to be fairly tightly contested between Eaton and Frontier Academy with a whole lot hinging on the #5 runner. Lily Tomasula-Martin and Josiah Davis appear to be considerable favorites for individual titles on the Tour de Kersey (thank you for that name, Ben Hershelman!) course.
Los Alamos, New Mexico, joins TCA, Pine Creek, Dakota Ridge, Erie, Salida, and a few others for what may qualify as the most geographically diverse meet of the weekend. Cooler temps and a fast course could yield some nice times on Friday afternoon.
Please plan to carpool, if at all possible, for this one! There is no adjacent neighborhood for parking to spill over into.
This year is perhaps a little smaller version of this meet than we've seen in the past, but all the quad burning glory of this meet comes back for another round just the same. And, even if the participation numbers did dip a little this year, there's still a very nice cross-section of teams from around the state. This meet still manages to pull from east of the Continental Divide.
In all, this is a very large version of this meet, with over 400 athletes registered for the meet, including middle school participants. The high school teams come strictly from the Four Corners area with all of the San Juan Basin programs sending at least partial varsity rosters to this meet.
Without a league meet to follow for most of these schools, there is a bigger window of opportunity for most of these programs to blow the doors open a little for this meet. It should prove to be fun, and maybe the best Ancient Trails meet to date.
This meet is turning out to be a little smaller than it has been in recent years. Doubtless, a lot of that has to do with moving a week earlier (relative to state) than it has previously fallen on the schedule. There are a lot more invitationals to compete against this weekend than there would be next weekend. But, truth be told, Mario Garcia is probably good with a somewhat smaller meet. There was only so much room he could squeeze out of the street in front of Wiggins High School for a start line.
The meet still figures to be blazing fast. We'll assume an accurate 5K (though conversations over that topic are likely to linger forever), but a net zero course (if anything, it is slightly downhill on the way back in), all asphalt, at an elevation of 4550 feet can make for some very fast times. And, after you've posted that very fast time, you can go find someone to argue with over whether it should be counted as a cross country time or not. That, too, is the kind of conversation that is likely to linger forever--or at least as long as the meet lasts.
So long as everyone's enjoying themselves, though, we'll salute this meet for what it is and for being up-front about what it is.