Cross Country Previews: 4A Girls

Call it a hunch, but Kali Maxwell is probably hoping she never again sees a meet as cold as last year's Falcon Invitational. Photo by Alan Versaw.


And at last we come to the final installment of the previews--4A girls.


Alamosa has departed to 3A, leaving a vacancy on the throne. Evergreen looked like a prohibitive favorite almost all season long last fall before misfiring at the state meet. Cheyenne Mountain waded through a sluggish season before coming up strong to finish third at the state meet. Greeley Central, Montrose, and Moffat County each showed flashes of brilliance during the season but just as surely left the state meet feeling like they were better teams than what the final score indicated. And, finally, Thompson Valley extended their string of finishing either first or second at state to five years.


What will this year hold? Even if I knew for certain, I wouldn't tell as it would ruin most of the fun. Look for an exciting year in 4A girls.


Evergreen has to be coming into the season looking for redemption. The Cougars were crushing people all season long before the wheels came off. Bryn Haebe, Maura O`Brien, and Sam Skold are back to see if they can reprise the magic and maybe make it last a couple weeks longer this fall. If you're looking for an initial favorite, this group seems to fill the requirements.


But, there will be other contenders to deal with.


Figure on Thompson Valley being around at the end of the season. The leadership of the Eagles appears to tilt toward Karina Ernst this fall. Now a junior, Ernst specializes in middle distances but runs well enough at 5K that Thompson Valley should have no worries at 1. Alicia Randall has several years of high-level experience to add to the mix as well. The question for Thompson Valley will surely be how solid they end up being at 4 and 5.


Cheyenne Mountain has a lot coming back but must find a way over the hurdle of almost-but-not-quite state performances. Kali Maxwell may well have taken over the top spot on the team since we last discussed the Indians' fortunes. At the very least, that should prove to be an interesting question to watch early in the season. Maxwell also has the distinction of being the #3 returner from last year's individuals at the state meet.


No team in 4A has a more established 1-2 than Greeley Central's Allie Parks and Janelle Martinez. Parks must bounce back from a track season that didn't go as well as hoped, but figure these two will be out in front leading the Wildcats again this fall. As it the case for so many other teams, it's going to come down to how well Greeley Central can develop the depth to at least the fifth runner.


Montrose and Moffat County should once again do battle for supremacy of the western slope 4A programs. Last year, Montrose took the nod by a single point at the regional meet, then by a larger margin at state. Montrose, however, took the bigger hit to graduation. This little battle within the region should be interesting once again this year. Durango, just moved down from 5A, may have something to say about that, but will need to step up a little to match what Montrose and Moffat County did last year. Moffat County's Maddy Jourgensen figures to be the top individual from west of the Continental Divide.


Air Academy and Green Mountain come down from 5A after years of being successful programs in the largest-school classification. Of the two, Air Academy seems better positioned to be a serious contender in 4A this fall. The Kadets should be led by Kellyn Roiko.


Traditional contenders Mullen, Greeley West, and Pueblo West took big hits to graduation and may find themselves entangled in various stages of rebuilding. Of course, whatever rebuilding Greeley West does will have to be done in 5A, not 4A.


Vista Ridge, a program that started strong last fall but struggled some later in the season, should be back and better this fall. Pencil them in as a prime candidate to climb into the top 10, perhaps higher.


Another potential top 10 team is Discovery Canyon, who comes up from the ranks of 3A this fall. Allie Morgan is the top contender for the Thunder, yet another team on a quest to build their roster rock-solid all the way to #5, or beyond.


Individually, it is Allie Parks's title to defend. Results of the last track season, however, say she has her work cut out for her.


Look for serious challenges from Maddy Jourgensen, Maura O`Brien, and Karina Ernst. Possibly just a step behind at the end of last school year, but still in the hunt, would be Kellyn Craig (Denver South), Sydney Scott (Denver South), Kellyn Roiko, Kali Maxwell, Janelle Martinez, Marilyn Weege (Mullen), Bryn Haebe, and Allie Morgan. Truthfully, the book is out a little on Maxwell as she plays lacrosse in the spring rather than running track. And, expect an incoming freshman or two to make some noise. We just don't have names to attach to those incoming freshmen yet.


2009 4A State Meet Results