Monarch's Kirk Webb outduels Mountain Vista's Stephen Chipman to the finish line at the St. Vrain Invitational. Photo by Alan Versaw.
If you didn't believe what you saw last week, believe what you saw this week. Monarch is for real. The road to a 5A state championship would appear to go through Louisville/Superior.
For the second week in a row, the Coyotes were dominant. For the second week in a row, nobody else had answers, even though Monarch was short a runner or two in their boys lineup.
This week, Monarch upped the margin by a point on Boulder in the girl's race. And, the order up front for Monarch seems a little interchangeable. This week, the order went Claire Green, Taylor Floming, Mariel Fulton, Rebecca Richmond, and Maddie Alm. On a slowish reconfiguration of the St. Vrain Invitational course, all five were 20:02 or better.
Behind Boulder--but quite a way behind--were Pine Creek, The Classical Academy, and Mountain Vista. Nobody else was within shouting distance. Boulder ran again this week without Kelsey Lakowske. Whether Lakowske figures into this season or not, and at what level, remains an unsolved mystery.
The boys race had no equivalent of Boulder to keep it close. Monarch beat second-place Mountain Vista at every scoring position, starting with Kirk Webb outsprinting Stephen Chipman down the football field to the finish line. Mountain Vista is clearly a solid team entry, but, just as clearly, a step behind Monarch at this point in the season.
At this point, Kent Rieder's hot rod is hitting on all cylinders.
Shelby Stableford of The Classical Academy won the 4A/5A girls race after overtaking Pine Creek's Heather Bates shortly before the two mile mark. By the finish, Stableford had opened a gap of 22 seconds. Stableford won the 2A/3A race at last week's pre-state meet, but didn't figure to have as easy of a time of it against the 4A/5A competition at St. Vrain.
The 2A/3A races were both exceptionally tight contests.
In 2A/3A girls, Nederland squeaked by Estes Park by two points. Estes Park was once again without Kim Hansen, but Nederland's strength within the 2A ranks is altogether too apparent. With Kelley Robinson back in the lineup for Nederland, the next 2A team in the standings was in another time zone.
Birdie Hutton of Shining Mountain Waldorf, runner-up at last week's pre-state 2A/3A race, was completely in control of this one, posting a 13-second victory over Melissa Roberts on the latter's home course.
For the boys, it's safe to say that Peak to Peak surprised a few people by winning this one, even if only by a single point over highly-regarded University. Peak to Peak hasn't been on anybody's watch list to this point, but that figures to change. The Pumas took a very balanced 11-12-15-16 score and 14-second pack time to the bank to come away with the victory. The top four teams--Peak to Peak, University, Holy Family, and Eaton--all finished within nine points of one another.
Anthony Rios of Brush won the individual title in 17:25, but not before Garrett Coles of University and Daniel Mahoney of Jefferson Academy made it interesting.
In other notes of interest coming out of the meet, Faith Christian joined The Classical Academy in running up in the 4A/5A division for the boys' race. The Eagles got two very nice finishes from Sam Yeager and Evan Fortney, but were unable to sustain that kind of performance through the fifth runner. Josh Simkins of The Classical Academy finished third overall in the 4A/5A boys race with a time of 16:41.
Monarch took both JV team championships, underscoring the depth of their program in the process.
And, finally, Pine Creek's Laura Yarrow is going to have to be taken seriously. To this point, Heather Bates has captured the headlines for Pine Creek, but Yarrow finished a very impressive third in the 4A/5A girls race with a time of 19:05.