Boys Race Provides Close Finish
The Anna Banana has grown accustomed to seeing a red Montrose singlet at the front with Ian Meek winning the past three seasons. Last year, teammate Evan Graff followed Meek across the finish line in what would have been a meet record 15:39 had it not been for Meek's 15:31.
This year, with Meek graduated, Graff entered the meet as the heir apparent and, with the change of venue, an opportunity for an Anna Banana course record of his own.
Of course, others toeing the starting line also had winning dreams, including Central GJ's David Cardenas, Rangely's Patrick Scoggins and Graff's younger brother, Sean. For his first start of the season, Soroco's Ben Kelley, was also ready to race.
The first mile of the new course is fast. It starts on dirt road through the parking lot and after a quarter mile narrows to a paved pathway that drops steeply to the "Bottom." After a short distance, the path turns to gravel and follows the lake perimeter to the one-mile mark.
Glenwood's Gavin Hardin took the pace out hard and pulled the lead pack of Graff, Kelley, Scoggins, Cardenas, Evan Graff, Central's Tyman Smart and Delta's John Ames through the first mile in five minutes.
Shortly after the mile marker, the course exits the Bottom by ascending a short, steep hill before narrowing to a dirt single-track path. This path makes a large loop around the relatively flat bench area of the park and extends through the two-mile mark.
Once on the bench, Graff made a move to break away from the pack, but Kelley followed close behind. By the two-mile mark, Cardenas trailed the lead pair by 15 yards with Scoggins and Evan Graff another 5 yards back.
Upon completion of the bench loop, the course drops back down to the lake and the wider path. Graff continued to push the pace to try to put distance on Kelley, but Kelley was ready to test his sprinting legs and passed Graff to win by one second in 16:08. Cardenas maintained his 3rd place position (16:26) while the younger Graff passed Scoggins for 4th.
The Graff brothers' performance would lead Montrose to a close team title win over Glenwood Springs, 83 to 84.
For the record, Kelley's time over this years' course was faster than his 2016 race. Although temperature conditions were favorable in the high 50's, it was very windy which likely slowed the final times. It appears Kelley is in good form and, not surprisingly, ready to be a force for the 2A individual title.