Colleen Koenig's third-place finish (and rolled shorts?) helped to lead Arapahoe to the Centennial League title on Thursday. Photo by Alan Versaw.
Last Week in Review
A tongue-in-cheek look at the past week of high school cross country action in Colorado...
Things were busy across the state this last week. Most of the meets were for league bragging rights, but a few meets transcended those boundaries. So, let's take a look at what happened...
It doesn't matter what the sport, it's always difficult to win the Centennial League. So, let's start out with a salute to the Arapahoe girls and the Smoky Hill boys on account of their triumphs. Well done, Warriors and Buffaloes (or is it Bison?).
They didn't use the creek crossing version of the course for the Centennial League meet. That made the times probably just a tiny bit faster than they would have been otherwise. This course always seems like it should run faster than it does, though. It looks fast, but doesn't typically produce a lot of eye-popping times.
For more detail on the meet, check out the article link below.
National Elite Performances
The 5A division of this meet is rapidly diminishing as the former 5A District 11 schools gradually fall back to the 4A classification. You could argue that--at least for the boys part of the meet--the competition was better at the 4A level than the 5A level this year.
Noteworthy was the absence of Heather Bates from the Pine Creek lineup. Liberty's girls looked very strong through 4, but will need a better day at #5 to be a big-time contender at state. Liberty, however, managed to win the 5A girls easily enough with Palmer edging Pine Creek for second.
In 5A boys, Palmer easily outdistanced the rest. And I do mean easily. All seven Palmer runners finished in the top 14, including a 1-2 from the brothers Goodman.
In 4A, Cheyenne Mountain was dominant in both boys and girls, but Coronado held their varsity rosters out of this meet. The Vista Ridge girls also appeared to have held a few key individuals out of this one. Perhaps other teams followed suit as well, but I'm pretty sure I recognize that the above teams did.
National Elite Performances
Rumor has it that Eleanor Fulton took a turn off the course and had to backtrack a little on at this meet. It does not appear to have impacted her placing, however . So, where was the lead horse, anyway?
There was a serious collection of talent up front in the boys' race, but it's difficult to know from afar how hard the pace was being pushed at this one. In any case, Keagan Vargo takes the win for this round.
Highlands Ranch (girls) and Heritage (boys) take the team titles. Neither victory registers on the Colorado Track XC surprise-o-meter.
Lincoln cruises to a win in the boys division and South in the girls division. And, honestly, one could imagine South as a 4A title contender if they could hack about three minutes off at the #5 position. As it is, start thinking of Sydney Scott as a potential contender for the individual title. I'm not sure how she's stayed off my radar screen as long as she has, but she's there now.
I don't recall any "East Metro League" prior to this year. It sounds a lot like Boston, New York, Philly, and Baltimore, but it's really just a bunch of schools located more or less along the E-470 beltway between about I-25 on the west and Iliff, or so, on the south.
With the geography now dispensed with, we can report that Thornton was dominant among the boys. Not much of surprise there. The Trojans have been flirting with a top-10 ranking all season.
Brighton picked up the girls title. with Rikki Gonzales of Rangeview picking up the individual title by nearly two full minutes. Ms. Gonzales should be a little more challenged this week.
Be not deceived by the meet name, this one doubles as the Intermountain League meet. Or at least it has done that kind of double duty in the past. Probably some sort of 1A/2A league meet, too. Although the course is at over 7500 feet, it tends to run fast. If you've ever been to the Monte Vista golf course, you'll understand why. Let's just say it's not advertised as a Tom Weiskopf design. Then again, greens fees are probably a lot more modest than at most Front Range courses.
Despite this meet's ties to the Intermountain League, Alamosa kept their top boys out of the lineup for this one. That more or less ceded the meet title to Gunnison. Alamosa did run the top crew of girls, but it wasn't nearly enough to derail the Pagosa Springs Express. Pagosa picked up the meet title and posted enough season-best marks to boost their standing in the team rankings a couple of notches. Don't be too quick to dismiss Pagosa as a threat at the state meet. If any team in the state can be said to specialize in hilly courses, that team would be Pagosa Springs.
Oh, and finally, we should note that Valerie Stark dropped a nice statement about her place in the 2A girls individual race at this one.
Showdown! Boulder takes down Fort Collins (by one point). I should add that, at least historically speaking, the league meet matters to Fort Collins. Don't be blowing taps for Boulder just yet.
So, where was Monarch? Resting their regulars, of course.
Monarch resting would apply to the boys as well. In the absence of the alpha Coyotes, Fort Collins eased into a 19-111 win over second in the boys' race. This course does tend to run fast, but three at 16:10 or under still gets your attention. Nice job for David Garcia, Jeff Abbey, and Griffin Hay! #4 was at 16:17.
National Elite Performances
Let's hope Will Kincaid was laying off a little. 16:13 for third doesn't seem in line with his season's trajectory. Danny Carney and Austin Appel go 1-2 for Dakota Ridge.
The team contests, frankly, weren't very interesting here. Evergreen blew out both genders of competition in the 4A races. Dakota Ridge followed in the 5A races. In the list of vintage years for Jeffco cross country, this year probably doesn't rank toward the top.
National Elite Performances
A college meet, yes, but with several former Colorado high school runners competing.
Chandler Reid wins the boys race in what ranks as a surprise of a lower order. Allie Parks wins the girls race without dipping into the element of surprise.
Cameron Jukkala returns to the Broomfield lineup and helps the Eagles to a four-point victory over Thompson Valley for the boys' title. Greeley Central edges Niwot and Thompson Valley for the girls title.
We probably haven't seen the last of either close finish. The regional meet will match almost all of the same teams again this week.
Andrew Mansfield of Glenwood Springs was either a) sick, b) injured, or c) laying seriously low. Figure, though, he's back to full speed for the regional meet in Cortez on Saturday. Brandi Krieg also qualifies for "laying low" status, but she doesn't show in the results at all.
Moffat County was tuning up for something here. The Bulldogs were seen carrying away trophies and loading the bus before most teams had finished the race.
The SCL misses Alamosa a little, but it's a good year for Pueblo South (boys) and Pueblo Centennial (girls). That seems to be making up the slack.
Mike Cernoia had a huge race to add a further element of interest to the 4A boys state race coming up. If anyone can give Spencer Wenck a run for his money, a healthy Mike Cernoia seems a likely candidate.
So, how many meets a year run on the Elmwood Golf Course circuit?
Most of TCA's top runners took the weekend off.
Salida brings back Lukas Garcia to elevate their title hopes a little. Josh Noriega beats the heat for a 15:59. More detail in the article linked below.
Think of this one as the Lonely Hearts Invitational. Mostly, it's a collection of schools without dates to a league meet. A few of the assembled Wiggins Invitational teams, though, have already run their league meets and show up here for a little more cross country in their lives.
This meet is only cross country in a limited sense, however. The race makes extensive use of the (almost entirely level) roads around Wiggins. And that would help to explain why the times coming out of this meet run as fast as they do. PRs aplenty at this one.