Utah Takes Team Titles, Colorado Stays Close

Riley Stewart ran away from the field by 15 seconds to take the NXR-SW girls title.

For a long time, Nike Cross Southwest has been all about Utah and Colorado. Nothing about that changed today.

Utah stood up and claimed team titles today--Corner Canyon for the boys and Lone Peak for the girls. But, after Corner Canyon and Lone Peak, it was all Colorado.

Mountain Vista stunned Dakota Ridge for second in the boys race. Valor Christian pulled a surprise of some magnitude by edging Niwot for second place in the girls race. Cherry Creek pulled up in fourth place.

The Mountain Vista vs. Dakota Ridge battle came down to fifth runners. Nearly deadlocked through four runners, Kyle Boe posted a big 15:49 at the #5 slot for Vista Nation to catapult Mountain Vista past Dakota Ridge by nearly 40 points. You wouldn't be far afield if you classified it as the best Mountain Vista effort of the season.

And, the best effort of the season will take Mountain Vista back to Portland. They've been there a few times before. Joining Boe with big step-up kind of performances were Harrison Witt, Davis Helmerich, Jack O'Sullivan, and Ethan Rouse. Not many folks saw this one coming.

Dakota Ridge will have to wait and see if there's an at-large bid with their name on it. It will be a long week of waiting, but there's no way to make the week go faster.

Valor Christian also supplied something of a surprising performance on the girls side. Everyone more or less knew that Lanie Szuch and Isabella Prosceno, relegated to sub-varsity duty in the CHSAA-sanctioned season, would be eligible to run at NXR-SW. What nobody really knew, however, was how effective Szuch and Prosceno would be.

As it turns out, highly effective.

Szuch, in fact, was Valor's lead runner, finishing seventh overall in 17:32. Taylor Whitfield and Brooke Wilson weren't far behind at 17:54 and 17:57. Prosceno and Ashley Jones did clean-up work to close the Valor team score at 119,

Probably nobody was more surprised than third-place Niwot at 130 points. Niwot had an ineligible-turned-eligible of their own in Lucca Fulkerson. Fulkerson was the top Niwot finisher at 17:49. Samrawit Dishon was also under 18 minutes for the Cougars.

It's worth asking here if Szuch, Prosceno, and Fulkerson benefited from a season with diminished wear and tear against sub-varsity competition.

Niwot beat Valor at 4 and 5, but couldn't keep pace overall. So, like Dakota Ridge, Niwot has to sit for a week and stew over what happened--or didn't happen--today. Third place might advance, but you don't know until the at-large bids are extended next Saturday.

Joining Niwot on the waiting bench will be Cherry Creek. Riley Stewart ran to an individual title at a convincing 17:03. Cherry Creek couldn't quite close that deal into a first or second on the team front, but they did live to practice again--for at least another week. 

Cherry Creek can't advance ahead of Niwot, but it you have to follow a team into the big dance, you could do a lot worse than following Niwot.

Individual qualifiers for Colorado include Cole Sprout (boys individual champion in 14:41, Cruz Culpepper (14:54), Connor Ohlson (14:55--if Dakota Ridge doesn't get a team bid), and Dylan Schubert (14:58). Yasin Sado could move to an individual qualifier position of Ohlson goes in via the team route.

Girls individual qualifiers include Riley Stewart (if Cherry Creek doesn't get a team bid), Samantha Blair (17:19), and Cameron McConnell (17:20).