After all of the intensity of week three, we should not count it surprising that large numbers of top athletes were out of competition in week four.
Still, week the week that marks the midpoint of the CHSAA season had some interesting results.
Probably of most interest in the statewide picture, Durango came back over the mountains on thumped everyone in the boys division of the Coronado Cougar Classic on Thursday. Rogan Brown, Dakota Jones, and Ty Otteson all finished in under 16:50 as the Demons combined for 65 points in a field of over 30 teams.
Perhaps equally noteworthy is that the girls individual title was won by rising 3A phenom Kara Slavoski of St. Mary's. In the last two weeks, running against almost entirely 4A and 5A competition, Slavoski has finished second only to Allie McLaughlin one week and smoked the entire field the next week. Someone should be taking notice.
Back on the subject of 5A boys, Cherry Creek toppled Loveland at the John Martin Invitational, but it looks to have been a Loveland team with one arm tied behind its back. Don't count the Indians out yet would be the moral to that story.
Thompson Valley's girls served notice that a giant is awakening in squeaking by the Fort Collins girls at the latter's home meet. Rachel Viger was out for Fort Collins, but breathing down the back of even a slightly short-handed Fort Collins team would count for something. Beating them, no matter how small the margin, definitely counts for something.
Greeley West made it two-for-two at the John Martin Invitational by winning both the boys and girls races in the Division 2 race. Both teams seem to be on an upward trend at the moment and are teams that bear watching over the remainder of the season.
Most of the other 4A boys teams that figure to be in contention were running at less than full strength, but Castle View and Rock Canyon were flexing their muscles down at the Fountain-Fort Carson Invitational on Saturday. Although Rock Canyon won largely on the strength of their fourth and fifth runners (a difference that would be magnified in larger meets with deeper fields), Castle View has shown significant improvement this year and should be taken seriously in the 4A race.
Gunnison, another team quietly on the rise this year (it's difficult to rise with a lot of pomp and ceremony when you run all your meets on the western slope where the glare of media statewide media attention rarely strays), swept the titles at the Hotchkiss Invitational. The girls individual title, however, was won by Grand Valley's Brandi Krieg (pictured at left at the state track meet last spring) , a sophomore who splits time with the Cardinals' volleyball team. Although the top end of the 3A girls field is unbelievably tough this year, Krieg figures to be somewhere among the higher finishers at the 3A state meet.
Mancos, another western slope small-school program, raised some eyebrows last week and the repeated their statement this week. The Blue Jay girls defeated both the Pagosa Springs and Bayfield girls at the Pagosa Springs Invitational on Saturday. Pagosa Springs was running without Jacie Harms, but the result speaks volumes for the progress of the Mancos program nevertheless.
Elsewhere, Brush's girls topped a reasonably strong field of small schools at their home invitational. Summit's girls were absolutely dominant on one of the toughest courses in the state--the Snow Mountain Invitational. Also in a class of their own at this meet were Joseph Manilafasha and Sam Berggren. Always standouts, these two made an even bigger break from the field than usual on this demanding course. The Classical Academy girls easily won the Fountain-Fort Carson girls race. Highlands Ranch obliterated both fields at the East Angel Invitational. Watch, especially, for the Highlands Ranch girls as an emerging player in the 5A field. Also, Fairview's boys and Boulder's girls emerged triumphant at the Broomfield Invitational, where Greeley Central's girls enjoyed what appears to be their best outing of the season to date. It was all Steamboat Springs, Moffat County, and Green River (Wyo.) at Moffat County's Invitational. Earlier in the week, Evergreen looked very strong in sweeping the team titles at the Conifer Invitational.
I am still missing all or parts of several sets of meet results for the past week--among them Kiowa, Sterling, Ouray, Nederland, and probably one or two more. If you have access to these results and would like to see them up, please forward them along to me at the e-mail address at the top of this article. If receipt of the aforementioned results adds signficantly to the weekend's picture, I will update this article accordingly. Thank you all very much.