John Martin Invitational in review

The John Martin Invitational, hosted by Ft Collins High School, provided plenty of surprises for and by the nearly 30 teams in attendance. Lambkins’ head coach and meet director Chris Suppes was forced to delay the start of the varsity races as a small but powerful thunderstorm set up shop directly over the campus-based course.

But, once the storm blew through, it was up to the runners to throw some lightning bolts of their own.

The Greeley West boys showed they deserve some serious consideration in the 4A ranks with a 57-66-68 win over Laramie (WY) and D’Evelyn in the Division 2 race. The West trio of Kody Leach (3rd), Evert Finger (7th) and Dylon Koehnran(9th) ran from the front the whole way and offset the commanding individual win by the Jaguars’ Tim Muller (16:35.4).

The Spartans and Jags look to be pretty evenly matched at all seven spots and could push Falcon, Niwot and Wheat Ridge next month. Thompson Valley finished fourth over the partial varsity squads of the Falcon and Niwot.

The West girls made it a sweep of the D-2 races with a big 40-83 win. That wasn’t a surprise, but the second-place team may have been to some; Curt Ranweiler’s Berthoud Spartans put four runners in the top 20 and beat third-place D’Evelyn on the sixth-place tiebreaker. The Berthoud girls have put together a string of good performances in the early season and could be a force in the always-tough Northern Conference over the next couple years.

The dominant West trio of Ashlee Smalley, Erica Hinchcliffe and Sarah Swenson claimed the top three individual positions and ran unchallenged, putting a nearly 40-second gap to the next runner. Overall, it was an easy victory for Sue Carter’s girls, who head to Portland, OR, next week for the Nike pre-national meet on the Portland Meadows course.

In the Division 1 boys race, Cherry Creek junior Walter Schafer (at left, photo by Ken Regan) appeared not to need an easy race after his third-place performance at Liberty Bell last week. He ran away from Poudre’s Colin Munoz to the tune of a 15:42.7 win, an especially impressive time given the course was starting to get muddy and soft by the time the D-1 boys were underway.

Schafer’s win helped the Bruins to a 83-108 victory over Loveland, who ran a couple of their top runners in the JV races. The Indians’ depth is impressive, and when they run a complete squad again, will be difficult to defeat. Still, Creek has a great 1-3 punch with Schafer, Brian King (10th in 16:58.7) and Doug Brady (11th in 17:01.6) and appear ready to lay claim to the 5A team title.

The D-1 girls’ race matched the state’s #1 4A and 5A squads. This time, the girls from Thompson Valley prevailed on the strength of sixth-place runner Katie Biedron’s 27th-place finish. The Lambkins and Eagles were tied at 70 through five runners, but Fort Collins’ sixth runner could only manage a 71st-place finish, giving TVHS the win. 

5A #4 Cherry Creek was third with 116 points.

Collins was without regular #2 runner Rachel Viger, held out by Coach Suppes after being ill during the week. Thompson Valley senior Laura Tremblay won the individual race, showing her 400/800 speed over the final meters to defeat Cherry Creek’s Clare Gallagher with a time of 18:27.1.

Laura’s twin sister, Liz, scored a nearly 15-second PR, running 19:47.4 in twelvth-place. As the Eagles’ pack goes, so will this team, as they were able to place the scoring five in the top-20 and all seven runners in the top-30.

Times for all races were slightly slower this year from previous years, as the D-2 boys and D-1 girls were running during the heart of the wind and rainfall, and the D-1 boys and D-2 girls had to navigate through a sloppier track. Still, PRs and strong performances were aplenty on the always-fast Ft Collins course.