Mattern, DeLaCerda Rule the Course

Saturday was showtime for Kiara Mattern and Isaiah DeLaCerda. Photos by Alan Versaw.

If you were looking for tightly-contested races, you went home disappointed. But, at least your unchewed fingernails had something to be happy about.

Technically, their were two winners each in the high school races at Saturday's USATF-Colorado Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships, but the 15-16 and 17-18 age groups run together, and Kiara Mattern and Isaiah DeLaCerda didn't leave much of anything to subjective speculation.

Officially, however, Logan Simington (16:32) and Emily Lucero (19:58) claimed the 15-16 crowns for which Mattern and DeLaCerda were born just a bit too soon.

For her part, Mattern ran unthreatened throughout. She went to an early lead and never looked back. She probably did look back once she crossed the finish line in 18:16, but we'll get to the issue of checking times in just a couple paragraphs here. Amy Leasure captured second in 18:51.

Branden Bohling ran stride-for-stride with DeLaCerda through the first loop of the race, but DeLaCerda shoved it into another gear for the second loop and wasn't heard from again until he showed up at the finish line in 15:52. Ultimately, it was DeLaCerda's own Alamosa High School teammater of Caleb Palmer who pulled up in second at 16:25.

Mattern and DeLaCerda weren't the only ones to post enormous times. The list of PR times from these two races runs a Grand Canyon kind of deep. And the gap between previous PRs and times posted on the day is, in many cases, more than merely substantial.

Here's what we do know and can say beyond dispute:

  • A decent amount of the race runs on grass, but this was not lush, heavily-irrigated summer season grass. The grass was low, and the ground beneath it was both dry and hard, making for faster racing conditions than would be present earlier in the season.
  • Conditions, less the breeze which came up just about right on time for the high school races (though much of the Fountain Creek Park course--even the USATF version--is nicely sheltered from wind), were very nearly ideal. Temperatures never quite reached 50F and the barometric pressure stayed at 30.32 or higher all day. That is the high end of unusual for barometric pressure here along the Front Range. As long as you're racing in Colorado, oxygen density just doesn't get much better than it was in Fountain on Saturday.
  • A Google Earth trace of the course, which isn't the final word on these matters, comes up perhaps just a bit over 100 meters short. Most of that apparent deficit resides in the 3000 meter loop and very little in the 2000 meter loop.

Consequently, I need to figure out what to do about posting times from this race. Regardless of the outcome of that decision, it is beyond dispute that Mattern and DeLaCerda were very much on top of their races.

The 13-14 races (unimpacted by the 3000-meter-loop questions) introduced us to a new face or two.

Tatum Miller (photo, right) and Joslin Blair took the top two places in the 13-14 Girls 4000 meter run. Miller took the win in 14:37, with Blair finishing second in 14:46.

Miller attends Eagleview Middle School in Colorado Springs, while Blair wore an Eagle Valley Track Club singlet. In these days of open enrollment, you want to be careful about making assumptions regarding where this year's 8th grader will attend school next year, but Air Academy and either Battle Mountain or Eagle Valley could be next year's beneficiaries.

The 13-14 boys witnessed a very tight 1-2-3 finish from Tyler Ervin, Noah Trautner, and Cole Sprout.

Ervin cut his teeth this fall as an Arapahoe freshman. He ran a season-best time of 16:52 this year at the Centennial League meet and backed it up with a 13:07 winning time on Saturday. Noah Trautner, likely to end up at Pine Creek next year, ran second in 13:08, while Sprout, who finished third in this year's Middle School State Championships for Faith Christian Academy, took another third in a big race with a 13:10.

The 13-14 Boys race was deep in young men already owning high school experience and/or with older brothers who are well-known on the high school scene.

Top 25 finishers and top three teams move on, if they so choose, to Albuquerque on November 21 for the Region X Championships. The cool thing about that is that USATF Junior Olympic Nationals will fall two weeks later on the same course. Albuquerque has a history of hosting that event, making it far more convenient for Colorado competitors that it might otherwise be.

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