Rye's Audrey Maroney is a rising star in 2A.
Talented youth is something that appears to be a trend among 2A. A handful of sophomores and juniors highlight this piece of content, and not just individually, but on teams as well.
This means that the future landscape of 2A can be seen quite easily, here.
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.
A year ago Rye's Audrey Maroney was the second-fastest freshman at the state meet. She finished seventh in 20:49, which was her second-fastest 5k of the season.
She cracked 21 seven times, including a 19:51 personal best from regionals. While her 2019 cross country season was already impressive as a stand-alone, her track season hinted a little more at what she's capable of.
Last spring she did what most freshmen do - they start out within the pack, then by the end of the season they're practically leading it.
Maroney ran PRs of 5:35 in the 1,600 (after opening the season with a 5:54), and 11:59 in the 3,200 (after a 13:30 season opener). She went on to finish fifth in the state in the 1,600, and third in the 3,200.
Just like her cross country season, she saved her best two performances for last.
Platte Canyon's Emma Dikken finished one place ahead of Maroney at the 2018 cross country state championships, running 20:29, and similar to Maroney, she saved her two best performance for last - she ran a 19:31 PR at regionals just before state.
Dikken finished in the top six eight of nine times, with the only time not achieving the feat being at Liberty Bell.
On the track she took a major left turn down in distance, running the 100, 200, and 400.
She tallied PRs of 13.10 in the 100, 26.83 in the 200, and 1:01.00 in the 400. She finished sixth in the state in the 200, and 12th in the 400 prelims.
Clearly, Dikken has a ton of speed to add to her strength.
BONUS: Cecilia Richardson
Can the two-time 1A state track champion duplicate her success on the country course this fall?
Richardson swept the 1,600 and 3,200 state titles this past spring as a freshman. She finished 17th at the state cross country championships last fall, and ran a PR of 21:31 a week earlier.
An interesting stat - she ran in the 23s the first two meets of the season, the 22s the next fours races, then dropped to 21s in the final three races - that's some consistent improvement.
Richardson, who competed in Simla during track, but runs for Peyton in cross country, clearly found a new gear this past spring.
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