10 Questions that Cross Country 2015 Answered

When it came to deciding the 5A boys individual crown, it all came down to this. Photo by Alan Versaw.

Back on August 8, I posed 10 questions for cross country, 2015, to answer. It's time now to examine the answers to those questions. The questions, and their answers, appear below:

1. Which meet will be the winner in the Liberty Bell vs. St. Vrain showdown on September 12? Arguably, the calendar collision here is a blessing in disguise for both meets, but it remains to be seen which meet provides the better showdown of top teams and individuals.

The winner? Well, it looks to me like both meets came out very nicely. Liberty Bell had more teams, but the teams at St. Vrain were happy to be there. And, with this match-up of Titans, every other meet up and down the Front Range found another weekend to host on. The winner here was Colorado cross country. 

2. What's life like for Palmer Ridge after Eric Hamer and Cherry Creek after Jordyn Colter? Early indications look good, but we'll wait to see what the season holds.

Palmer Ridge missed Hamer. How could you not miss Eric Hamer? But, the Bears did very nicely for themselves nevertheless. Second in state by two points to a very good Durango team is not the measure of a substandard season. Likewise, Cherry Creek missed Jordyn Colter, but had a nice year of it just the same. Like Palmer Ridge, Creek was very close at state. Maybe even just one break late in the season going Creek's way and they leave with a state title.

3. Who is your favorite in 5A boys? The individual title appears to be wide open going into the season, with perhaps a couple of stronger favorites, but several more in the hunt. And remember, the new state meet course isn't quite the same game changer that the previous state meet course was. 

Isaac Green was certainly on the list of favorites, and so was Jake Mitchem. When it came to a sprint inside the stadium, Green was able to get things going just a little faster. 

4. Where will the small school distance talent without cross country programs at their own schools end up this fall? It's probably the case that not all will end up running cross country, but Jennie Ann West, Luke Duggan, Morgan Crane, Micah Crane, Jackie Jerred, Bailey Fassler, and Taylor Cooney could end up helping somebody this fall if they find a place to run.

To be honest with you, I don't think any of these individuals ran cross country in the fall. They would have made some teams better.

5. Can the Fort Collins girls hold off Fossil Ridge and Rocky Mountain within their own city another year? The Lambkins' dominance over local rivals has remained intact for more than a decade now. Is it time yet for the bill to come due?

The rule of Fort Collins over their cross-city rivals has come to an end. Fort Collins did finish ahead of both at state, but didn't sweep the season series with either team. It is no longer a foregone conclusion that the Fort Collins girls are the team to beat in their own hometown.

6. Which will prove to be the most dominant program (boys and girls) within the state this fall? Mountain Vista has been strong for a few years running with boys now, and the girls program is showing signs of rising. Palmer Ridge snared a first (boys) and third (girls) at state last year. Alamosa swept the 3A titles last year. And, we know Lyons is always tough in both genders. Will we see anyone sweeping this fall? 

All four of these programs were very good, though none could manage the sweep. Mountain Vista earned a first and a fourth at state. Alamosa earned a first and a fourth. Lyons owned a first and a third. Palmer Ridge was the only one of the group without a state title, but still came away with a second and a fourth. It's hard to argue with the success of these programs.

7. Who will be this fall's freshman phenoms? Tyler Scholl likely has the inside track among the boys, and Quinn McConnell among the girls, but these things don't necessarily come out the way you think they will.

Tyler Scholl likely checks in as the top freshman boy performer of the year on an individual basis, but nobody had a freshman class of boys like Glenwood Springs. McConnell's status is essentially unrivaled, but teammate Anna Shults, and large-school competitors Caroline Eck and Chantae Steele were not that far back.

8. Speaking of Tyler Scholl, will it be West Grand or Middle Park (or someplace else?) for him this fall? We feel pretty safe in the belief that Quinn McConnell will be running for Peak to Peak this fall.

Middle Park it is! Next question--can Middle Park bring back the cross country glory that was once theirs?

9. Can Colorado get a team back to NXN this year? If so, which team?

How about Vista Nation?! Not only did Jonathan Dalby's crew get there, they won the regional race and finished 12th once they were there. Now you know how good that team really is vis-a-vis the best teams in the nation.

10. What will become of the Wiggins Invitational now that it's on a much more competitive weekend for meets than it has been previously?

The Wiggins Invitational survived just fine, thank you. Numbers were down somewhat this year, but that may have been something of a blessing in disguise.