Rosston Sherlock (Buena Vista)
Who runs a personal best on one of the more difficult courses in the state?
A year ago the Buena Vista (incoming) senior saved his best performance for last - finishing seventh at the State Championships.
If we look backwards in time it's clear that Sherlock found his stride on the right day, and could be a serious threat on the course this fall.
Sherlock opened his junior year with a 19:56, 11th place finish in the 2A race at the Cheyenne Mountain Stampede.
Already, that right there shines a bright spotlight on his curve of improvement over the season - same course as State, separated by two months.
He ran a season best of 17:39 at Liberty Bell, where he finished 17th in the D3 race. The time was a solid 19 seconds behind Peyton's Joel Schluessler, who finished 10th in the race.
Sherlock cracked 18 twice more before State - inching his season best down to 17:32 at the 2A Region 3 cross country championships, where he finished fourth. Noel Lopez won the race in 16:19.
A week later Sherlock capped his season-long leap with his best run yet.
He ran 17:13, which was 27 seconds ahead of Schluessler, and 44 seconds behind Lopez - and nearly two-and-a-half-minutes ahead of where he was in late August on the same course.
Cole Pacosza (Telluride)
A year ago Cole Pacosza was the top freshmen at the state meet. He finished 11th that day, just five seconds off his 17:24 personal best.
What makes Pacosza a real potential threat this fall is how much he improved over his first season.
I'll throw out that 20:48 "5,000" in his opener because it's debatable how accurate that course was - and it's likely to have been insanely difficult - no one broke 20 minutes.
With that race out, his first legit cross country 5k was a 19:16, third-place finish at the Grand Junction Tiger Invitational.
A week later he dropped over a minute off that time, running 18:10 to finish 11th at the Mountaineer Cowboy Invitational.
And the improvements only continued.
Pacosza hinted at his talents at the Delta-Sweitzer Lake Invitational, where he finished fourth in 17:26 - 51 seconds behind Elco Garcia's winning time of 16:35.
After that race Pacosza never ran slower than 17:32.
He ran a 17:24 PR at the Pantherfest before claiming the first win of his high school career at the 2A Region 4 championships.
12 days later he went on to finish 11th at State, running 17:29.
Dylan Brush (St. Mary's)
Dylan Brush was one of two sophomores to finish inside the Top 10 at last year's State championships (the other being Jodzuel Juarez.)
Like Sherlock, Brush had a very impressive curve from the beginning of the season to the end.
Brush opened his 2019 season with a 19:17, fifth-place finish in the 2A race at the Cheyenne Mountain Stampede.
Four weeks later he dropped his best performance to date - a 18:18 44th place finish at the Coronado Cougar Classic.
And that was just the tip of the iceberg.
Three weeks later he chopped another 40 seconds off that, running 17:38 to finish fifth at the Tri-Peaks League/Black Forest League Championships. Ellicott's Jodzuel Juarez finished second in that race, running 16:55.
From that race, Brush never looked back - he would crack 18 every race for the remainder of the season.
Two weeks after his performance at league he dropped a few more seconds off his PR, running 17:32 to finish fifth at the 2A Region 3 championships. The race was won by Noel Lopez in 16:21.
And that set the stage for Brush's best performance yet - State.
At the state meet he dipped into the Top-10, running 17:28 - his third consecutive PR. The time was 59 seconds behind Lopez, and 38 behind Juarez - and nearly two minutes faster than he ran here two months earlier.