The pieces are largely interchangeable on Monarch's varsity seven. On Saturday, it was Elissa Mann leading the pack. Photo by Karen McCoy.
It's now official, the Southwest region is done with invitationals. From this point forward, whoever wins the marbles, keeps the marbles.
Utah is already done and drumming its fingers on the table for other states to finish. Colorado was the first to oblige, so we'll make our first stop in Colorado.
It was state meet weekend in Colorado. It's the roughest, toughest, meanest state course we've seen in a long, long time. And, it got the best of some people.
It didn't get the best of everyone, though.
5A girls amounted to a war of attrition. It's probably safe to say that Monarch, Fort Collins, and Pine Creek each came in a little banged up, under the weather, or both. Both all three still made a stirring show of it. The final team tally (with 25 teams competing) read Monarch 91, Fort Collins 98, and Pine Creek 100. As you should have suspected, three teams scoring that low in a field of 25 teams means the rest of the scores tended toward high. The Coyotes, Lambkins, and Eagles now get three weeks to regroup and get healthy.
The Classical Academy, which moved up to 4A this year, won that classification's title. A merged state meet score has TCA sitting at fourth and 5A Mountain Vista at fifth. Cherry Creek suffered through Jordyn Colter dropping out of the race in the final mile or likely would have been among the team leaders as well.
It was another very close battle in the 5A boys race with Mountain Vista holding on for their second victory over Fairview in as many tries. 4A Coronado, an easy winner in their classification, comes uncomfortably close to MV and Fairview in the merged scoring (accessible on the meet page linked below). Cherry Creek and Cheyenne Mountain, two teams that have never made the trip down to NXR-SW, also fared well in the team standings.
The byword in Colorado this year was depth. If you didn't go at least five deep, you were left with your head spinning at this year's state meet. As has been the case for a few years running, the girls side seems to be a little stronger in Colorado relative to the rest of the region than the boys. One indicator of that strength is the count teams with five or more sub-20 runners for 5K. In Colorado this fall, that count of teams came to 16 teams, with two of those teams having five or more under 19:00. You can probably guess the identity of those two teams.
For what was probably the first time all season, all of Nevada's top teams ran inside the borders of Nevada this weekend. State qualifying weekend has a way of motivating that kind of appearance.
In the Northern Region, Galena destroyed the boys competition, scoring 3-4-5-8-17 in the Division I race, with scoring times ranging in time from 17:19 to 17:51. I don't have a good read on the course, but it's a potentiallly acceptable pack time. Among the girls, McQueen topped the Division I Northern contingent, but times ranging from 20:29 to 22:07 indicate a scoring gap that could create problems in bigger meets. Elko rolled through Division 1A without the services of Shelbie Dorsa. If Dorsa comes back, Elko is potentially a better team than McQueen. We'll look and hope for another week to give us a better read on that.
In the Southern Division, Centennial's team time was more than two full minutes better than anyone else's. We'll pencil Centennial in as the best boys team in Nevada but also keep an eye on next week's state meet results. That's a sort of trust-but-verify as applied to cross country.
The Centennial girls more or less duplicated that feat--only with a margin of more than three minutes on the next best team--in their race.
It's tough to read too much into times when you aren't familiar with the course, but Centennial looks to be the team to beat at this week's Nevada State Cross Country Championships. Sydney Badger and Katie Gorczyca (whom you may remember as running for Palo Verde two years ago) have been hammering the assembled Nevada competition to date, and this race was no exception.
The best news for the southern section would be that their corner of the state hosts the state meet this year. The annual trade-off of state meet location between the Reno and Las Vegas areas has a distinct tendency to favor the local squads. I'm not sure Centennial needs the help, but it seems to be theirs for the taking, anyway.
The ticket to have this weekend was the one to the Los Alamos Invitational at the Los Alamos County Golf Course. In yet another stirring clash between what are apparently New Mexico's top two boys teams, Cleveland edged Los Alamos yet again, gaining extra credit points this time for doing it on the home course for the Hilltoppers (and at Los Alamos altitude). Albuquerque Academy is a very good team as well--and they were at this meet--but they're in the rear-view mirror where these two teams are concerned.
Los Alamos drubbed the girls competition at this meet, and the Eldorado Eagles were idle this past weekend. That leaves things in the top two girls positions in New Mexico as they were coming into the week. Albuquerque Academy and St. Pius are two very good teams, but have struggled to match the depth of either Eldorado or Los Alamos all season.
It's awfully late in the season to be sticking mental sticky notes on teams, but the tendency for Hobbs High School to run their meets in Texas has more or less hidden them from view to this point. The Hobbs boys ran well at Ruidoso (high elevation and challenging course) this past weekend, however, and might have a trick or two up their sleeves at state (assuming it's cold enough to warrant wearing arm warmers in Rio Rancho in another two weeks).
It was sectional qualifying weekend in Arizona.
For the boys, the qualifier of greatest interest was Division 1 Section 2. Highland, Corona del Sol, and Desert Vista each easily qualified (at the top) out of this one. The same three schools, though in a different order at the top, also qualified their girls teams. Somebody needs to find a way to make state qualifying more interesting, and not just in Arizona.
From Division 1 Section 1, we'll report that Bernie Montoya won his race by 102 seconds. That would qualify as an element of interest in this sectional qualifier. Nobody really knows if he shortcut the course--it was all a blur as he went by. On a more serious note, it will be news indeed if this young man doesn't qualify for NXN.
In Division 1 Section 3, Mesa Mountain View beat Xavier in the girls race. As you may have inferred, however, Xavier had the front line in street clothes for this one. Next week's roster will be an entirely different set of girls.
Rio Rico has been coming on nicely, but I whiffed in my attempt to find any sectional results for this team.