Look for more teams to be running at full strength, or close to full strength, this week than last. Large numbers of teams sat most or all of their regular varsity rosters last week, and the competitors are itching to roll again.
There are two big meets on the Front Range happening on Friday--Dave Sanders and LoboCat. Of these, the stronger fields seem to be roughly evently split between Dave Sanders and LoboCat. So far as the girls' fields go, the meets look about evenly split, but a small edge goes to Dave Sanders for the strength of the boys' field there.
A significant number of the team entries at the LoboCat are repeats from the Poudre School District Pre-State meet on August 28. If these schools are actually participating, one would assume they are running under some sort of special dispensation as it was my understanding, at least (and I could be wrong), that schools were to pick one or the other of the two meets to preview the state course. Regardless, it looks like a starting line of 35 - 40 teams at LoboCat and only one division to hold them all. Whatever you do, keep your feet underneath you on this start!
The Dave Sanders meet has an established tradition of being very competitive, and this year should be no exception. Dakota Ridge is on the list of schools attending and they're about due for a performance that signals something bigger looming on the horizon. In any case, rumors have been floating around that we may see Kaitie Vanatta at this meet. If those rumors prove to be true, it will be exciting to have her back on the course. Also, look for an appearance from Andrew Roberts of Lyons, another pre-season headliner who's been racing sparingly thus far this season.
Smaller meets will be hosted on Friday by Loveland, Holy Family and Thornton.
The Greeley West girls (at least the regular varsity) are scheduled for Nike Pre-Nationals in Oregon this weekend, so don't look for them at Fossil Ridge--or anywhere else in the state.
Over on the other side of the mountains, the Anna Banana (Fruita-Monument) Invitational takes place this weekend. Most of the top western slope programs will be either there or at the Glenwood Springs (Demon) Invitational. A few more will show up at Mancos's Chicken Creek Challenge.
And if oxygen deprivation is your thing (or your coach's thing), there's always the 9100-foot Invitational hosted by Summit HS.
Saturday's biggest meets, however, will likely be held in Pueblo and Limon. The Pueblo Central Invitational is closing in on 50 years running and still going strong. The field took a bit of a hit from the LoboCat Invitational but should still be substantial. This meet runs on the old state course on Elmwood Golf Course at Pueblo City Park.
In Limon, the small schools gather for their biggest invitational of the year. This used to be the unofficial 2A state championship meet, but the need for an unofficial meet is now behind us. This meet should add much clarity to the 2A title pictures as Rocky Ford, Wiggins, Alexander Dawson, and Nederland are all scheduled to put in appearances. With the addition of a few 3A schools the field should be large and deep enough to give something of a state-like feel in terms of depth. The strength of schools' third runners--crucial at this year's state meet--will be tested.
As always, look back here for reports and results from all of the weekend's action. More detailed meet previews on a couple of this weekend's meets should appear soon--time permitting.