Showdowns Aplenty on Tap for Liberty Bell

Boulder brings an excellent pack time and favorite status into the Division I girls race at Liberty Bell. Photo by Alan Versaw.


Disclaimer: Everything divulged in this article is information already available to coaches bringing teams to this year's Liberty Bell Invitational. I have not tapped into no anonymous reservoirs of information to obtain the information included in this article.




We just might see a few familiar faces for the first time this season at tomorrow's Liberty Bell Invitational. While being entered in a race is not the same thing as stepping to the start line and racing, the entries show several  individuals whom we haven't seen to this point in the season.


And there are a few faces we will have to wait a little longer to see. Perhaps most prominent among the wait-a-little-longers are Connor Winter of Arapahoe and Kelsey Lakowske of Boulder. Neither are entered to run at Liberty Bell.


Among those entered to make season debuts are: Samantha Berggren (Middle Park), Nicki DeSouchet (Alamosa), Tait Rutherford (Fort Collins), Cam Jukkala (Broomfield), Maura O`Brien (Evergreen), Stephen Rodriguez (Thornton), and Kim Hansen (Estes Park).


The Division I boys race will answer the question of whether anyone in Colorado is yet prepared to mix it up with Albuquerque Academy. AA has taken on and soundly defeated all comers thus far in New Mexico. Fort Collins seems like the most likely team to step up to the challenge, but it will be a stern test for this maturing Fort Collins team. After a good showing at the pre-state meet and an Aurora City Championships title, Smoky Hill may be in position to make a good stand as well. We should also find out if any Colorado boys are ready to run with the front pack of the Red Army. David Garcia of Fort Collins may be the top person to answer that bell.


Albuquerque Academy figures into the Division I girls race as well, though in a different sort of way. This time, it's an individual--Julia Foster. Will anyone in the girls' field have the wheels to stick with the speedy Charger? Foster has opened up huge gaps on the field for three consecutive weeks of meets in New Mexico. If Olivia Anderson of Cherry Creek can back up her outstanding race last week with a duel with Foster, that would be worth a headline. Anderson is probably the best bet in the field to make a run at Foster, but there are several other girls in the field capable of posting outstanding times. In the team race, Fort Collins matches up against Boulder. Last year, Fort Collins took this one convincingly, but the tables seem to be turned going in this year.


While Monarch seems a heavy favorite to win the Division II boys race, there are other quality programs in the field. Dakota Ridge, Pomona, and Cheyenne Mountain should provide an intriguing match-up. Will Kincaid comes back to Colorado likely smarting a little from his treatment at the hands of a few top Utah runners. We'll find out if anyone has better luck sticking with Kincaid on a flat and fast course than on the hills of the pre-state course. Kincaid should expect to be tested by Austin Appel, Danny Carney, Kirk Webb, and Stephen and Gerardo Rodriguez--perhaps a few more.


The Division II girls race should be a blockbuster. While Monarch again comes in as a heavy team favorite, the traffic gets thick quickly behind the Coyotes. Cheyenne Mountain, Highlands Ranch, Loveland, Mullen, and Pine Creek all bring heavily talent-laden teams to the starting line. And, don't be too surprised if ThunderRidge has a breakout meet. Heather Bates, Kailie Hartman, and Eleanor Fulton seem likely contenders for top individual honors, but Pine Creek may have a second horse in that race as well, based on Laura Yarrow's finish at St. Vrain last Saturday.


Note, in an earlier article I mentioned Vista Ridge as a Division II contender, but they now appear in the Division III field.


In Division III, we should finally see a loaded line-up from the Broomfield boys. We've been waiting for this one and the time has come. Lots of teams should give Broomfield plenty to deal with, though, including Battle Mountain, Laramie, Evergreen, and Moffat County. To my reading of the entries, no boy comes in as a solid favorite for the individual title, but this is a golden opportunity for someone to step up and be recognized. It will be interesting to see if the recent run of success for Chris Zirkle and Alfredo Lebron of Moffat County can be extended to the Liberty Bell course.


Division III girls has several fine teams and individuals. Leading the list of teams are Greeley Central, Vista Ridge, Evergreen, and Moffat County. Individuals would include Maddy Jourgensen, Allie Parks, Janelle Martinez, Bryn Haebe, Maura O`Brien, McKayla Gray, and perhaps a small handful of others. Through the top five teams and top five individuals, this may prove to be the most competitive of the eight varsity races.


Division IV promises a solid test for the Alamosa boys against some strong 3A programs, including Faith Christian, Basalt, and University. The Mean Moose won't be sneaking up on anyone this time around. Chad Palmer and Conner Roper should make for an interesting match-up for the individual title, but if either gets careless, there are others in the field who could mess up the story line. Sam Yeager and Evan Fortney of Faith Christian come to mind pretty quickly on that list.


Among Division IV girls, Estes Park looks like a strong team favorite, particularly if Kim Hansen is back in the line-up and running healthy. But, we haven't seen the full Middle Park team yet this year. Either way, be watching for purple up toward the front. Individually, this is a stellar field for small school programs. Sam Berggren vs. Nicki and Jenny DeSouchet vs. Sydney Harris vs. Kim Hansen vs. Lindsay Chavez. Like a lot of other races on the schedule, this one promises to be a lot of fun.