Week In Review: Winding Down the Invitational Season

Desmin Ramierez, Alex Pawlak, Gerardo Rodriguez, Nic de Herrera, and Jack Burger mix it up at the front of the pack at Friday's Pat Amato Classic. Photo by Kelli Noto.


Last Week in Review


A tongue in cheek look at the last week of high school cross country action across the state of Colorado...


With this being, for most schools, the last week of invitationals you might expect a lot of teams to be laying low. And, if that was your expectation, you're probably feeling a lot like a prophet right now. Lots of teams did lay low in anticipation of the championship season ahead.


Of course, some teams will lay low this week, figuring that the league meet--which qualifies a team for precisely nothing--is the better time to rest up the athletes who need a little rest in advance of state.


In case you were wondering, everyone should be done laying low by next week. 

Andy Myers Cross Country Invitational


If you check out the photo link below, you'll see why this one tends to run as fast as it does--a substantial asphalt component.


Allie Parks has made this event her own personal little fiefdom. If I'm not mistaken, this makes three consecutive titles for her at this meet. And, her Greeley Central team looked much more like themselves in the results than they did last week.


Elsewhere, Monarch augmented their aura of invincibility a little. Thompson Valley came out of hiding. And, Frontier Academy showed they can hang in a large-school field. Take note of each of these factoids as the championship season gets underway.


National Elite Performances


Dakota Ridge Cross Country Invitational


The Vail Daily ran a photo of David Shearon looking well, um, very relaxed in this race. Here's hoping he enjoyed that moment of ease out in front. Finishing in first figures to get a lot more difficult the rest of the way out.


Mostly, however, this meet proved to be a showcase for Loveland's boys and girls teams.


As it will be with Shearon, tougher challenges for Loveland lay ahead.


See Shearon with two thumbs up here: http://www.vaildaily.com/article/20101007/SPORTS/101009830/1009&parentprofile=1063


Doherty Spartan Cross Country Invitational


Palmer Ridge definitely has the front-running talent. Fear this team once the talent starts to backfill a little more.


Cheyenne Mountain won the girls division with two hands tied behind their back. More and more, I'm thinking CM looks like the 4A girls team to beat, but there's still time for more pre-state statements to come from other teams as well.


Spencer Wenck won handily and Michael Cernoia finished a very strong second. For Cernoia, who was struggling a little mid-season, this result should be an indicator that things are turning back in the right direction.


National Elite Performances


Erie Cross Country Invitational


Faith Christian looks very good through three, don't they? It's getting a little late, but if a fourth happens to show up, this team is dangerous.


Although Erie is 4A and the competition here was 3A, Erie looked very good. If some team is counting on Erie issuing them a pass to the 4A state meet, they really ought to check their arithmetic. Erie won't be issuing any passes at the regional meet. Look for the Tigers to contend.



Falcon Cross Country Invitational


This was a sizeable meet last year until the freezing rain showed up and half the field didn't. That may have something to do with why only 10 teams showed up this year. That, and the fact that Falcon isn't hosting a 4A regional meet this year.


Still, this is a pleasant little meet with a bucolic feel to it. And, although bucolic doesn't mean breezy, you might also say this meet has a breezy feel to it.


Environmental observations aside, TCA wins both the boys and girls title here.


Jaguar Invitational


This Santa Fe invitational seems to be an out-of-state meet of choice for Colorado schools. Every year, someone from Colorado seems to show up for this one. This year, it was Littleton. And guess who took home the girls' trophy? Yes, that would be Littleton.


Just an observation, but Colorado girls teams who have left the state for competition have been faring very nicely this year. That speaks well of the quality of girls competition in our state.



La Junta Cross Country Invitational


This one warranted a little feature on Colorado Track XC (see link below). That's where you could find a little more detail about the meet.


For now, though, suffice it to say that Rocky Ford wins both SE Colorado championships for 2010.


Mile High League Cross Country Meet


Finally, Kendall Horan shows up in the results for Lutheran-Parker! It wasn't enough to derail Nederland's girls, but it may have been enough to infuse some hope in the L-P girls program. This is a better team than they've shown to date.


Kelley Robinson impresses for the win for Nederland.


Alexander Dawson goes 1-2-3 to win the boys title. Bigger obstacles are in view for these guys.


National Elite Performances

5000 Meter Run


Montezuma-Cortez Ancient Trails 5K Invitational


I'm told this was the largest athletic event ever hosted in Montezuma County. At least it will be until the combined 2A/3A/4A regional meet hits town in another two weeks. Paul Koops should be getting some serious love from the eateries in town.


Erin Kelly puts the hammer down to win the girls title with ease. Andrew Mansfield of Glenwood edges out Ty Williams and Eric Lewis for the boys' title. That rates as a little bit of a surprise on my race-o-meter. Montrose has what looks like their best outing of the season to win the girls' team title.


Note to the teams heading here for the regional meet: It looks like this course doesn't run fast.



Pat Amato Classic


For the uninitiated, Pat Amato was the cross country coach at Northglenn HS back before most of you were born. He had some success in his tenure there. It's nice to see that the school keeps the memory alive in this way.


If you learn nothing else from this meet, please learn that Liberty's girls are a legitimate 5A contender. Liberty will likely reach the state meet without facing Monarch, Boulder, or Fort Collins at any point in the season (Note: Liberty and Fort Collins were both at the Cherry Creek Invitational, but Liberty ran Gina Hauptman in the FR/SO race at that meet and so didn't really pit a full varsity against Fort Collins there.). That's a risky course for the state meet, but it also adds an intriguing element of the unknown to the state meet. Watch this one with the attention it deserves!


Patriot League XC Meet

National Elite Performances


Melissa and Miriam Roberts go 1-2 for Lyons. They've done this before this season. Olivia Raspotnik moved her season best time down a few seconds. That slight little grin you see on Coach Roberts' face tells you he's not going into the state showdown with Nederland with empty holsters.


Of course, this was mostly a 3A meet. So, what did we learn about the 3A schools in attendance?


We learned that the Unversity and Eaton boys are still closely matched, with University still getting the nod. We learned that Estes Park, Berthoud, and Brush are probably going to make their region the toughest girls' region from which to advance to state. These are each solid programs.


5000 Meter Run


Rampart Cross Country Invitational


It was supposed to be Pine Creek vs. Highlands Ranch II. That sort of ended when Heather Bates dropped out mid-race and Ranch went on to a relatively easy victory. Pine Creek has some reassembling of the pieces to do.


Highlands Ranch also took home the boys' trophy but in a race lacking the marquee appeal of the girls' race.


Sun Devil Cross Country Invitational


This one wins the award for the smallest meet of the weekend. This one is definitely not the largest athletic event ever hosted on the Kent Denver campus. I don't think anyone will find it surprising that Colorado Academy won the boys' title and Kent Denver the girls title.



Windjammer Invitational


Arapahoe flexed a few Warrior muscles at this one. It's beginning to look like we won't see Connor Winter this season, but you have to wonder what the boys' team would have been like had he not gotten hurt. This one isn't Liberty Bell, but neither is it a third-tier meet and Arapahoe took home the title. Moffat County's Chris Zirkle and Alfredo Lebron go 1-2 as individuals, again. What Todd Trapp wouldn't give for a pair of 17s out of his 4 and 5... If anything like that happens, we could be looking at a serious showdown at state for the 4A boys state championship. Already a crowded field, it could get a little more crowded.


The Araphahoe girls are clearly a quality team. Like Liberty, they haven't taken the highest-profile of paths, but they will be reckoned with at state. I honestly can't recall a year with the level of girls team talent that we're seeing in Colorado this year. If most of these teams have anything left in the tank for state, we should see a fabulous contest on the hills of the Arapahoe County Fairgrounds.


National Elite Performances


Late breaking news:
The Custer County Invitational goes to... the Sangre de Cristo mountains. Valerie Stark wins the girls title by about three minutes in 23+. No boy breaks 20. Tough course, dude!
The Chris Severy Invitational goes to the locals. As in Basalt wins the boys (but with new leadership at the front of the pack--was Conner Roper healthy?!) and Aspen wins the girls by an eyelash over Durango.