Week five is in the books, and what a week it was!
Things got off to an auspicious start with nearly 800 runners competing in the Prairie View Invitational on Tuesday. All of them, by the way, got wet. Here, the Faith Christian boys added another large meet title to their season's resume... makes it more difficult to fly under the radar into the state meet, but the psychological benefits of winning probably offset the diminished surprise factor. On the girls side, Summit and Estes Park validated their continuing good fortunes this season with solid performances from this meet. Word has it that the Estes Park girls pick up another varsity-level runner this week coming off a transfer rule situation. The Bobcats bear watching!
Although a much smaller meet than Prairie View's, the ThunderRidge Invitational also took place on Tuesday. Evergreen swept the team titles and immediately placed an order for a larger trophy case to accommodate their season's haul. Hungry for more, the guys in pinstripes would be back competing again on Friday.
A single meet was held on Thursday--the Pikes Peak Invitational in Colorado Springs. Formerly one of the showpiece meets in Colorado Springs, the meet is currently regaining its footing. Kara Slavoski (St. Mary's) and Dusty Solis (Coronado) won the individual titles, but it came down to a dual between Doherty and Coronado for the team titles. The local rivals split the winnings with Coronado taking the boys title and Doherty the girls title. Pictured at below are Doherty's Jordan Bloeser and Coronado's Hannah Green, who would conveniently swap places before the end of the race so that the results, which show Green in third and Bloesser in fourth, would not need to be revised (photo by Mark Weeks).
All of this, however, was prelude. Friday was the day cross country fans were waiting for. Smaller meets were held in Loveland and Thornton, where Gabe Toepel (at left, photo by Will Smith) of Brighton Collegiate ran away with a meet title. Toepel's time was a rather impressive 16:32. For the second straight year, it appears that Brighton Collegiate will bring a serious individual contender to the state meet.
Up I-25 a few miles, they held the Sweetheart Invitational in Loveland. This meet had the unfortunate distinction of being held a mere 10 miles from the LoboCat Invitational--a meet with a bit of a stronger drawing card (that would be the state meet course). Anyhow, had Laramie (WY) not shown up at the Sweetheart Invite, things could have gotten really thin. Loveland more or less hammered the field in the Division 1 races while Berthoud (girls) and Ridgeview Academy (boys) took the honors in the Divison 2 races.
The LoboCat Invitational hosted roughly 35 teams, some getting their second crack at the state course, but most seeing it for the first time. The first time was good enough, though, for Fairview and The Classical Academy to win team titles. And, someone needs to find a small ball-and-chain apparatus to attach to the legs of Joseph Manilafasha and Allie McLaughlin or we may never seen either of them ever again. If their course records survive this year's state meet, they could be hanging around for a while.
Finally (for Friday), the Dave Sanders Invite in Littleton... This meet will be known, at least for this year, as the Dakota Ridge show. Mike Callor's harriers came with a chip on their shoulder and left with trophies on their shoulder--winning both Division 1 team titles and both Divison 1 individual titles. All that without Natosha Rogers in the lineup. It would appear the Eagles have taken flight and Kaitie Vanatta is on board. Andrew Roberts proved again that 3A cross country is the real deal by pushing Evan Appel all the way around the course before taking second place. Lyons, perhaps thinking that other 3A schools wouldn't see their results if they ran in Division 1, very nearly came home with a trophy. No more underdog role for Lyons. Ryan Haebe won another individual title in the Division 2 race and the Thompson Valley girls won yet another team title, also in the Division 2 race.
Things didn't let up much on Saturday, with meets going off in Salida, Glenwood Springs, Frisco, Limon, Pueblo, and Grand Junction. Two teams, perhaps sensing that Colorado isn't quite big enough for all of the state's cross country talent, went out of state to run--Cherry Creek to Stanford and Greeley West (girls) to Portland for Nike Pre-Nationals. To his credit, Walter Schafer of Cherry Creek emerged victorious in the boys seeded race at Stanford.
In Mancos, the Blue Jay girls once again toppled the twin towers of SW Colorado girls cross country--Pagosa Springs and Bayfield. There is a transfer of power, it would appear, going on in the San Juan Basin.
Salida hosted their own meet on Saturday as well. Buena Vista's Joseph DeMoor continued his winning ways, but his efforts were not enough to keep Salida from winning both team titles.
Rock Canyon (boys) and Rangeview (girls) took a little trip over Vail Pass to bring back some western-slope hardware from the Glenwood Springs Invitational. Runners with long names did enjoy an advantage, however, as Chiara Del Piccolo and Mario Gonzalez-Martinez claimed the individual titles. It's probably a good thing that cross country runners don't wear names on the back of their uniforms--both of these situations could present some interesting challenges.
Although Fruita-Monument dominated its own invitational, both the boys and girls from Gunnison put up solid performances. In order to prevent Gunnison from making it all the way to the state meet as a sleeper team, I'm serving notice right now that the Cowboys and Cowgirls are for real. When you see people running at state who look like they pilfered uniforms from the University of Georgia (or the Green Bay Packers--if you suffer from profound color-blindness), that would be the team from Gunnison.
Palmer got their annual dose of thin air and trophies at Summit's 9100-foot Invitational. Apparently, it works for the Terrors--a team that always seems to do well at state.
In Pueblo, of all places, Fort Collins found a little relief from the heat. The girls won going away, capturing three of the top four places, and the boys edged Denver South and Castle View. Somehow, Liberty's boys managed to find themselves running in the Division 2 race in Pueblo (or at least that's what the results reported to the press show). Mercifully, I guess, they won. Significant was the fact that the Crested Butte girls managed a third-place finish, behind only Fort Collins and Liberty, in the Division 1 girls race.
Finally, there was the 2A showdown in Limon. On the girls side, Nederland turned away all other contenders for the team title with a 1-3-7 finish. Barring a late-season surge from Mancos, Rocky Ford, or Wiggins, it is looking more and more like a Crested Butte-Nederland showdown for the first 2A girls state championship. It was, a little surprisingly, all Wiggins on the boys side. But, again, we have not read the final chapter of either story yet.