There's usually a surprise or two in the first meet of the year. There usually aren't as many as there were this year.
The biggest surprises? Let's start with Durango walking away with the 5A Boys title and Cheyenne Mountain edging Thompson Valley for the 4A Girls title. It's a long time until October 25, but these two teams now have instant credibility in the race for a state championship.
There were conspicuous no-shows on this opening race of the season--Lisa Reyna, Victor Montoya, and Wes Rickman head up that list, but there were others missing from the lineup of their accustomed teams. It is too soon, of course, to make much of this, but questions have a way of forcing themselves to the surface.
Several notable contests highlighted the day's action, but nothing raised more national interest than the showdown between Bobby Nicolls and Evan Appel (at left). After pretty much an entire spring of Evan Appel getting the upper hand, Nicolls returned the favor by winning in 15:26.40, just over eight seconds ahead of Appel.
Elsewhere, Holy Family and Lyons captured the girls and boys 1A - 3A titles, respectively. While Holy Family's margin was thin enough to leave some room for other teams to hope, the Lyons boys were utterly convincing in their victory, putting all five of their scores in the top 15. For good measure, Andrew Roberts took the team title in 16:03.0.
Cheyenne Mountain's one-point victory over Thompson Valley in 4A girls has already been noted. Thompson Valley, however, took home a double defeat, of sorts, as Moffat County's Alicia Nelson edged Laura Tremlay, 19:02.8 to 19:04.4, for the girls individual title. The boys race came down to a 124-142 margin of victory for Wheat Ridge over Falcon. Had Wes Rickman been able to finish the race, the story may well have been different. Thus did Wheat Ridge answer the questions about the strength of their fourth and fifth runners.
The 5A races completed the varsity competition for the evening. And people are still shaking their heads over Durango's dominance. Even without a finisher in the top 10, Durango still managed a 38-point margin over second place Cherry Creek. In 5A girls, it was a case of same song, second verse. Last year's powerhouse teams, Fort Collins and Dakota Ridge, laid down the case that they are, once again, the teams to beat. Doherty, however, finished a surprising third, signaling that they are ready to be taken seriously in the 5A race.