Apparently, Joseph Manilafasha and Allie McLaughlin like the state course. That's not necessarily good news for anyone with designs on wresting a state title from their hands.
It was a cool evening, but there was fire on the course. Manilafasha did a circuit of the Fossil Ridge in a breathtaking 15:17. Only it didn't seem to take his breath away. Not to be outdone, Allie McLaughlin completed her tour in 17:21. It was a bad day to be running second. Wes Rickman finished in 15:31 and Kaitlin Hanenburg finished in 17:54. Almost any other meet, almost any other day, those are winning efforts. As it is, both stand as stellar efforts, but just a bit overshadowed by the first-place efforts.
After a half-hour lightning delay the boys varsity race started at 5 PM. Rickman and teammate Kevin Johnson momentarily held with Manilafasha (above), but the Denver North ace wasn't taking any hitchhikers. For almost the entire race, there was mostly a lot of air behind Manilafasha.
A trail pack of Alex Weinheimer (Fairview), Garrett Wilson (Highlands Ranch), Ashi Guiles (Boulder), and Sam Feldotto (The Classical Academy) waged a battle of their own over the first half of the course, but never threatened the leaders. In the end, Greeley West's Kody Leach, at left, broke up the group, putting on a late surge to climb into fifth place, just behind Weinheimer and just ahead of Wilson.
Although Niwot's fifth-place runner came in seven places ahead of Fairview's fifth, Fairview captured the team title largely on the basis of a 4-12-14 finish by their top three. Fairview finished with 111 points to Niwot's 119 and Falcon's 124. The strength of both Niwot's and Falcon's finishes indicates that both should be strong contenders at the state meet in another four weeks.
If there was precious little suspense in the boys individual race, there was even less on the girls side. From the first 50 meters, Allie McLaughlin set a brutal pace from the front that allowed nobody within shouting distance the entire race. Arms and legs churning in her trademark style, McLaughlin maintained her intensity through the entire race. Although Kaitlin Hanenburg managed to keep the gap closer than anyone else has all season, it was still a formidable 33-second gap at the finish line.
The primary competition was staged within the group behind McLaughlin. Middle Park's Sam Berggren and Eleanor Fulton of Highlands Ranch ran 2-3 through the better part of the first mile, but were reeled in by Kaitlin Hanenburg and Shelby Stableford of The Classical Academy before the end of the first mile. A battle for position, below, ensued over the next half mile before Hanenburg and, later, Stableford broke free from the group.
The team race was settled early. The Classical Academy put three girls in under 19 minutes and three more in under 20 to finish with 51 points. Greeley Central, led by Allie Parks in tenth, was a distant second with 162 points. Boulder, one of the pre-race favorites, clearly felt the absence of Kelsey Lakowske from their lineup. The Panthers finished seventh with 238 points. Highlands Ranch, another pre-race favorite, put finishers in the top 11, but absorbed 48 and 98 points at the fourth and fifth positions, respectively, to settle for third in the team standings.