The Dark Horse: Girls 5A Pre-Season

Ralston Valley's Elizabeth Schweiker appears prime for a big, big year.

[The Dark Horse is a series I'll be running over the next two weeks. While we know the big name favorites, this series will take a look a little deeper into each class, shining a big spotlight on some of the names who have been lurking in the shadows in previous years, and could likely rise to the ranks of Colorado's elite this fall.] 

Like the girl's 4A field, much of the 5A field returns, which means we could see much of the same, or... Or we'll see some movers and shakers among the field. Among those returning include state champions, state runner-ups, runners with national experience, whether that be Nike Cross Nationals, or Footlocker. 

It's a high quality and quantity field, with a load of experience running fast and/or winning big races.

The following is a subjective look at a few individuals and teams that I'll currently dub Dark Horses, at least in terms of pre-season. 

Editor's Note: The following outlook is based entirely on stats from the 2018 cross country season, and the 2019 outdoor track season. It's likely there are other Dark Horses out there that will rise this fall. Unfortunately my powers do not include the ability to foresee what happens on that quiet trails over the summer.

Elizabeth Schweiker

Ralston Valley's Elizabeth Schweiker appears prime for a big, big year.

The (incoming) senior finished just outside the Top 10 at State last year, crossing in 11th in 18:59. She cracked 19 five of seven times, though, she made a trend running her best last - literally

Three weeks after State she went on to finish 76th at Nike Cross Regionals, running a personal best of 18:34. 

And clearly, she was just getting warmed up. 

On the track she ran huge PRs - all at the the state meet. She finished eighth in the 1,600 in 5:09, and fifth in the 3,200 in 11:06. 

This reads like she's is on the move, upwards.


Sydney Swanker 

Broomfield's Sydney Swanker is one of a few returners who have cracked the magical 18 minute barrier in Colorado - that feat alone puts her in rare company. Her 17:57 victory at Pat Amato is more than a subtle hint as to what she's capable of. 

A year ago she finished eighth in the loaded 5A field at State, running 18:50. While nearly everyone returns minus one, Swanker appears ready to take that next step. 

On the track she tallied two 14th-place finish at state - in the 1,600 and the 3,200. She also ran a PR of 5:14 in the 1,600, and ran an 11:28 in the 3,200.

Aidyn Woodall was the third-fastest freshman at the state meet last year, which says a lot, because Colorado was loaded with the best freshmen in the state - and the countryShe finished seventh at the Big Dance last year, running 18:49.

Woodall cracked 19 five times, including a PR of 18:24 at Nike Cross Regionals. 

Woodall's MileSplit account is brief - it doesn't include any time on the track. But what we can objectively see, is that she clearly is comfortable on the cross country course, and her performances last year, particularly the state meet, deserve a look. 

Next Page: Teams