Week in Review: The Triumph of Hard & Hilly Over Flat & Fast

Shelby Stableford surprised a few fans of cross country--and her coach--by cruising to a 12-second victory at the St. Vrain Invitational on Saturday. Photo by Alan Versaw.


Last Week in Review

A tongue-in-cheek summary of the previous week's cross country action in Colorado...



In case you hadn't noticed, flat and fast is so 2008. Hard and hilly is the new face of cross country in Colorado. The Smoky Hill folks kicked it off at the pre-state meet and lots of meets are following suit. Let's keep those IT bands in working order, folks!



Aurora City Cross Country Championships


Five days after the pre-state meet, they're deciding a city championship in Aurora. I don't know how much pride was on the line, but I'm guessing Smoky Hill was happy to win both titles. I'm also thinking they didn't max out to do it. 16:56 for Kyle Ames and 19:45 for Rikki Gonzales suggest that nobody up front was going pedal-to-the-metal at this one.


National Elite Performances

5000 Meter Run


Battle Mountain Husky Invitational


Whether or not this was the ultimate hill contest of the week likely depends on whether you were here or in Leadville. Since I didn't get results from the Lake County meet (at least not yet), I'm unofficially declaring this one the hill championship of Colorado high school cross country. How things have changed with the Battle Mountain Invitational!


And Palmer Ridge is a very good hill team. In fact, Spencer Wenck just might prove to be unbeatable on hills. If so, that's bad news for the competition when state rolls around. In any case, a full minute faster than David Shearon on the latter's home course qualifies as impressive. Palmer Ridge beat Rocky Mountain on a tie-breaker for the team title.


If the Palmer Ridge boys were impressive, the girls were off the charts. This team needs to start getting some love in the 4A rankings. If they don't they might get angry and who knows what might happen at that point? 40 points to Glenwood's 100 after a three-hour ride to get there is flat-out impressive. Keep an eye on Alison Deitsch.



Bayfield Cross Country Challenge


Hard and hilly fits this one as well. Ty Williams was back to his winning ways at this meet, taking down one of New Mexico's top talents in Evan Bekes. Kelsey Corbin of Mancos posted her second meet title in as many outings.


Team-wise Telluride took second in boys to a 5A school from New Mexico. The Pagosa Springs girls looked very sharp while winning their race.


Brighton Mercury Classic XC


Ridgeview Academy toppled Abraham Lincoln for the boys title at this meet. Brush looked very strong in winning the girls title. Though not especially hilly, this course does not run fast. I left one very frustrated coach when we attended this meet seven or eight years ago.


Canon City Cross Country Invitational


Finally, out of the meets beginning with B's!


If you didn't believe Pueblo South was for real coming out of the pre-state meet, believe it coming out of this meet. The Colts were on fire, taking places 1-2-3-6-9. Brandon Lange wins in 16:37


Pueblo South made it a sweep with a girls' title as well, but Valerie Stark of Custer County (2A) made some news by winning the girls' individual title in 20:13.



Cherry Creek Invitational


Cherry Creek isn't participating in the hard-and-hilly sweepstakes. This course is (still) a fast track.


Um, did you happen to notice that Olivia Anderson is winning lots of races lately? The state's best 300 hurdler and 800 runner also does cross country. I'm sure there are some folks less than totally thrilled to learn she's that good in cross country, too, but it's always a little lonely on top.


Chris Ganem was convincing as the boys' titleist.


Fort Collins was good enough for a sweep of the team titles. Cheyenne Mountain's boys were solid, but maybe just a tad overmatched in this mostly 5A field. Mullen got by Cheyenne Mountain's girls for the top 4A slot on the girls' side.


But, the real news here may have been the runners hiding out in the freshman/sophomore races. Pay attention to Charles Rasmussen of Dakota Ridge. When he comes out from under the transfer rule, you need to figure him into the Dakota Ridge varsity lineup. Gina Hauptman was beating up on the competition in the girls freshman/sophomore race. While it's not clear why she wasn't in her usual slot in the varsity race, her time still stands. Liberty, by the way, is a better girls team than they've been given credit for to date. Check them out in the girls' team rankings sometime. And, note also, that Fort Collins has a little more depth than we saw last week at the pre-state meet. If the freshman girls come along on schedule, Boulder and Monarch could have some purple-clad company in the race for the 5A girls title.


National Elite Performances

5000 Meter Run


Don Graf Memorial Cross Country Meet


Alamosa's girls have a long history of winning their home meet. They made a mistake this year, however, and invited Durango. That's one trophy that got away over Wolf Creek Pass. The Alamosa boys, however, kept their trophy. That makes two-for-two for the new kid on the block in 3A.


Del Norte's boys put up the kind of times that would indicate they must be taken seriously in 2A boys. At this point, only Telluride has enjoyed the kind of performance among 2A boys that Del Norte posted at this meet with five boys under 20:00 (admittedly, this course does have a history of running a little fast--especially for one at 7550 feet).


National Elite Performances


Longhorn Cross Country Invitational


Ever wonder how Basalt got the Longhorn mascot? Maybe someone moved in from Texas? They definitely don't wear burnt orange, however. The only other school in Colorado with a Longhorn mascot is a whole lot closer to the area where longhorn cattle roamed--back in the day. Anyhow...


The Montrose girls have to be a little tired of taking second to 3A teams. Last week Hotchkiss did the deed, this week it was Aspen. It's getting tough being a good 4A girls team over on the western slope. And, Aspen is certainly a serious entry in the 3A girls race.


Conner Roper took home boys individual honors in his home meet with a nice time of 17:09, but team honors went to Montrose. So, at least the Indians came home with something for their trip over over the pass.


And, whoa, how many times have you seen a 2A team fielding a boys team of seven runners? Yes, it's happened before, but for Rangely this represents something of a running revival. And a second-place finish for William Scoggins was a nice little perk as well.


Murray Invitational


Murray, where's Murray? Um, it's in Utah.


Columbine went over there for a 5K, but got 2.97 miles. They should apply for a 4.2% refund on their entry fee. You have to get your money's worth in tough economic times.


Will Kincaid won the pre-state meet but couldn't make it two in a row versus several of the top runners from Utah. Kincaid had to settle for fourth at this meet, but with a nice time of 15:16.


National Elite Performances

Three Mile Run
17:50.90 - Avery Calton (Ogden)
18:00.60 - Jamie Stokes (Ogden)
18:07.20 - Summer Harper (OREM)
18:07.70 - Sarah Feeny (Ogden)
18:12.80 - Susannah Hurst (East HS)
15:14.30 - Ben Soarel (Park City)


St. Vrain Cross Country Invitational


This one has already been covered. See the link to the article below and then the effusive comments in the forum about the meet directing skills of Mark Roberts. Yet another great meet at the base of the foothills in Lyons.


Suffice it to say, however, that this year's version of the course was a bunch slower than previous years. A lot more up and down than the course has been for several years.


National Elite Performances



Monarch, Again!

Warrior Cross Country Invitational


Grand Junction Central hosted a meet on Friday then went to Avon to run at the Battle Mountain Invitational on Saturday. Some people simply can't get enough of cross country.


According to the Grand Junction Sentinel article, team scores were not kept, but I calculated team scores just the same. Whether or not trophies, plaques, or Baskin Robbins coupons were handed out to the winning teams, Moffat County (boys) and Hotchkiss (girls) had things under control. Senior Chris Zirkle and freshman Natalie Anderson matched their teams' domination with individual titles.



Widefield Cross Country Invitational


Most people don't think of Widefield as a hilly community. For crying out loud, most people wouldn't know where Widefield is if they drove through it. Gaps in geographical awareness aside, the Widefield course is deceptively hilly. Maybe not as hilly as the state course, but definitely hilly enough to take your rhythm through the spin cycle.


Well, Pueblo South can apparently deal with everything from gonzo hilly (state) to flat as a pancake (Canon City) and things in between (Widefield). Eight days into the competitive season, the Colts had three new pieces of shiny hardware added to their collection. Mike Cernoia of Pueblo West, however, did the individual honors.


Palmer looked pretty convincing winning the girls race with Pueblo Centennial, Air Academy, and Discovery Canyon well in arrears. The Academy District 20 girls did, however, take the top three individual places.