Post-Season Analysis: 3A Boys


Adam Avischious of The Classical Academy will be next fall's top returning finisher from the 3A state meet. Photo by Paul Jaeger.


Almost all of the state's 3A boys' teams take hits to graduation. Some hits, however, will be more debilitating than others. It should be worth waiting around until next fall to see the hands that the various teams are holding.


The Classical Academy - Josh Simkins and Craig Miller will graduate from the state team. But the other four are back, including third-place finisher Adam Avischious and 12th-place finisher Joshua George. That's a good starting point for building a team for another year. At one point or another during the season, TCA had 12 boys post times of 17:50 or better. Eight of those return for next year, so the basis of a very good team is still in place.


Alamosa - Perhaps no team gets hit harder by graduation than the Mean Moose. But there's a qualifier to that statement. The qualifier would be that perhaps no team in the state has a more capable person in charge of the "feeder" program than Peter de la Cerda down in Alamosa. Next year may or may not be as strong for Alamosa as this year was, but Larry Zaragoza figures to have a lot to work with. Gavin Palmer and Jordan Villalva are the lone returners from the state team, but several more should be ready to step up into the open slots.


Salida - Salida also takes a big hit. Gone are Josh Noriega and Lukas Garcia. Any way you slice it, the departure of two two-year state medalists makes for a difficult hole to fill. Garrett Lundberg and Jacob Adamson have the top credentials to move into the leadership roles, but Coach Kenny Wilcox may have to solve the puzzle of how to make competitive mountain biking and cross country running coexist in a synergistic fashion. If he's able to solve that riddle, Salida could be very much in the thick of things again.


Gunnison - Honestly, the Cowboys were one runner away from being very much in the thick of the 3A title race this fall. Bryce Johnston graduates, but John Powell and Adrian Lovato have another year of eligibility remaining. If two more can move up into the #3 and #4 slots and drop at least a minute off of last year's time, Gunnison is capable of giving the rest of the classification all they can handle--and maybe more. Watch this team closely early next fall.


University - Until this season, University had a disturbing tendency of following up solid seasons with a state meet that was generally something of a disappointment. The 2010 squad had the best state meet in recent memory for University and may have broken the code the repeating that kind of accomplishment. With three of the top four coming back as juniors next fall, and with Garrett Coles a legitimate threat to win the state individual title, the Bulldogs should have a lot of say in who comes home with a trophy and who doesn't. Like Gunnison, this is a team to keep a close eye on. A strong track season in the distance events will bode well for next fall.


Basalt - The Longhorns dominated a few western slope meets early before starting to struggle later in the season. Conner Roper and Raleigh Burleigh won't be back to help the cause next fall, but Guilio Del Piccolo should be ready to assume the team leadership. It could be something of a rebuilding year, or things could work out rather nicely. Ron Lund has a long tradition of fielding competitive teams.


Faith Christian - Through the top three runners, there was no better team in the state in 3A last fall. Maybe not in 4A, either. But the Eagles ran short of depth at the #4 position. Sam Yeager graduates, leaving Evan Fortney and younger brother Luke Yeager. Fortney and the younger Yeager are a great place to start with a team, but Faith will need to bring along at least two more to be competitive at the state level. But don't get in a hurry to discount the possibility of exactly that happening.


Eaton - The Reds lose their top two of Brandon Fritz and Stan DeVore. It will be a long step up for the remaining cast to bring the team back to the level they enjoyed this year. But, the most of the rest of the lineup was young, so it's not unthinkable. Cash Merritt and Marcus Longwell look at this point to be in line to inherit the mantle of team leaders.


Educated Hunches:


Peak to Peak - After making it through a difficult set of circumstances leading up to last season, the Pumas pulled things together last fall and had a very respectable season, even if the state finish was probably a little disappointing. Senior-to-be Jacob Oveson leads a crew of four more juniors-to-be returning from this year's state lineup. It was obviously a nice piece of coaching this fall and that bodes well for the future. Peak to Peak's boys have never seriously threatened for a state title. With a solid summer of training and direction, that situation just might change next fall.


Pagosa Springs - Pagosa was another very young team last fall, led by Carlos Brinkman. Brinkman should be back next fall for his senior season and figures to be a bona fide front runner. Over the last decade or so, Pagosa's boys' teams haven't filled in that well behind a couple of solid front runners. If they can reverse that trend next fall, there just might be a gang of Pirates threatening to scuttle the 3A ship next fall.


Frontier Academy - The boys' team didn't quite accomplish what the girls' team did this fall, but making it to state in your inaugural season is still a positive sign. Figure that cross country will find it a little easier to recruit the hallways at Frontier Academy next spring. Don't be surprised if you see this team to a step or two up and become a serious 3A entry. Winning next year's regional seems to be the kind of goal that ought to be in view for this crew.


Jefferson Academy - The scorers are all back--led by Daniel Mahoney. After a dip in the school's cross country fortunes that lasted four or five years, the Jaguars seemed poised to return to a position of strength in the 3A ranks. This is one team that should definitely be better next fall.