The NXN SW 2008 boys championship race at one mile. Photo by Alan Versaw.
Article by Matt Norton and Alan Versaw, Colorado NXN SW Ambassadors
With the races of Labor Day Weekend now behind us, the battles for NXN SW championship race slots are starting to take shape. Each of the five states in the region are now fully involved in competition and the UNM Lobo Invite kicked off a little bit of interstate competition as well.,
Starting with New Mexico, the Albuquerque Academy boys pounded the field at the UNM Lobo Invite with a 4-6-9-14-17 finish. There are no weaknesses in the Chargers lineup as currently configured. To nobody's surprise, Kyle Pittman of Los Alamos took home individual honors with a time of 15:38. The biggest surprise coming out of the meet was that Chaparral, a Colorado entry not widely figured as one of the top teams in the state (we may have to revise that thinking!), finished second, ahead of Rio Rancho, Cibola, and Los Alamos. A very noteworthy start for the Wolverines!
What the boys did, however, pales against what the Chaparral girls accomplished. Led by Caroline Hine taking the individual title in 19:08, Chaparral toppled the top programs in New Mexico, including beating local favorite Albuquerque Academy by 20 points. La Cueva and Rio Rancho were reasonably close in third and fourth, followed by a big gap to fifth place. Conspicuously absent from the Albuquerque Academy lineup was Clara Milne, an individual qualifier for Nike Cross Nationals last fall.
Colorado hosted three big meets over the weekend--Pat Patten in Boulder, the Arapahoe Invitational in Littleton, and the Poudre School District Pre-State meet in Fort Collins.
At Pat Patten, David Perry of Niwot ran 16:10 on a challenging course with lots of grass and hills to climb. Boulder and Monarch went to a tie-breaker for the team title and both teams appear poised to climb into the higher echelon of boys teams this fall. The girls side of the meet featured an opening-weekend showdown between Boulder and Fort Collins. Fort Collins prevailed by five points even in the absence of top runner Rachel Viger. The top two individual places, however, went to Kelsey Lakowske (18:28) and Sam Lewis, both of Boulder.
At the Arapahoe Invite, Cherokee Trail parked four runners in the top 11 to make a solid statement they would back up the next day with a third in the 5A race at the Pre-State meet. Individual times seemed a little slow on this sometimes-challenging course. Rikki Gonzales of Legacy put 37 seconds up on the field in the girls race. The girls team title went to Green Mountain, a team that appears to have the potential to become a top-5 team in 5A girls. We'll watch this one more closely as the season develops
Colorado's biggest showdown, however, came on Saturday at the Pre-State meet. In the contest drawing the most interest, Cherry Creek repeated last year's state outcome by slipping by Regis Jesuit for the 5A team title. Walter Schafer's 15:31 was the best time in the state over the weekend. Thus does Schafer retain his status as the consensus pick for top male runner in the state. The next best time on the day belonged to Scott Fauble of Wheat Ridge who posted a 15:46 in the 4A race.
It was all Highlands Ranch in the 5A girls race. Eleanor Fulton (18:32), McLane Ritzel, Kristen Kientz, and Kristi Oslund went 1-2-3-9 for the Falcons, all finishing 19:50 or better. If Highlands Ranch can shore up the #5 scoring position, they are in a very strong position for NXN SW.
Many of the top teams in Utah traveled to the campus of Brigham Young University to compete in the aptly-named BYU Autumn Classic. It appeared that a cooler, wetter morning and a relatively fast course with a track finish contributed to solid early-season performances.
In the boys' race, highly-ranked Mountain View used an impressive 28-second split to post a 33-point victory. Davis, on the strength of better performances from their 3-5 runners, edged Pine View and Timpanogos. American Fork, maybe the best boys team in Utah and winners over most of these teams the week earlier, took the weekend off. Spencer Hansen, a junior from Maple Mountain, had the fastest time of the day at BYU and should be one of the top individuals in the state this year.
The girls’ team race in Utah looks like it will be a back-and-forth affair, as several teams appear to have the chops to make a strong run for state supremacy, and like the boys, several are lining up to earn a trip to Portland.
Park City, the preseason consensus pick as the top team in Utah, reversed a decision from last week’s Grass Relays at American Fork, placing four runners in the top 20 for a 13-point triumph over American Fork. Park City is led by senior Gillian Gorelik, who finished 17th (18:44) at NXN-SW in 2008. Davis, which won the aforementioned Relays, finished 4th at BYU behind Mountain View. Individually, Kelsey Braithwaite, a sophomore from Box Elder, starts the season as one of the girls-to-beat, as she bested the veteran Megan Hedquist of Davis, who finished 26th in Tempe last year. Given that only American Fork and Davis are in the same classification in Utah (5A), we may have to wait until Tempe to see them go at each other again.
BYU Autumn Classic Results
The biggest meet in the Grand Canyon state of Arizona was the Scottsdale Running Company XC Festival on the Silverado Golf Course in Scottsdale. Seeing the start times for this race in the desert (7:15 and 7:45 AM) should give us new-found appreciation for the coaches and runners from Arizona!
A fairly sizable upset occurred on the boys’ side, as Mountain View Mesa defeated highly-regarded Desert Vista, 47-82. Mountain View showed great depth, as their entire top seven finished in the top 30, with a spread of 15:06—16:15 for the 3-mile course. Tyler Bingham led the charge for the victors with a 2nd-place finish. Catalina Foothills of Tucson will open its season this week, while Alhambra appeared to send a less-than-complete squad to the Peaks Invitational in Flagstaff.
In the girls’ race, Xavier Prep of Phoenix gave a performance that indicates they are a major player in the Southwest region. Led by many-time All-American Jessica Tonn, Xavier had all seven runners at 19:20 or better on the way to a 35-92 victory over Phoenix Pinnacle. Freshman Sarah Fakler finished 2nd in 17:36, just 31 seconds behind Tonn. It appears there was a reprieve from the late summer heat Saturday with a brief shower cooling the course off some and dropping temperatures into the 70s.
Scottsdale Running Company Results
Results out of Nevada from this weekend are a little difficult to read. Shorter-than-standard race distances and meets without team scoring seemed to dominate the weekend. But, in the Reno Twilight Meet, familiar powers Galena and South Tahoe reasserted their dominance for a new year. Both Galena (boys) and South Tahoe (girls) won by solid margins, but both will need to add a little strength at the bottom of their scoring lineups to be in solid contention in November. Presumably, South Tahoe could compete in NXN SW. Even though the school is physically located in California, it is a member of the Nevada association. Stay tuned as we keep an ear to the ground for more determinative results out of the Silver State.
On an individual level, Wade Meddles took an early lead in the top male runner in Nevada sweepstakes by winning the Reno Twilight 4K by a margin of 11 seconds.