For those in attendance, Elise Cranny put on a remarkable show. Photo by Alan Versaw.
Nothing about Friday's 4A Region 3 contests was close. The team scoring wasn't close. The individual races weren't close. It was a grand day for blowouts.
The boys regional championship race was barely 300 meters underway and Coach Greg Weich was urging Ethan Gonzales not to take the lead. The effect of thatadmonishment lasted another couple thousand meters--maybe--and then it became apparent to all that there was no other place for Gonzales to be. Jake Link of Centaurus tried to stay close, but nobody else had the legs Gonzales had.
Gonzales kept the rhythm over the little rises and falls of the course, stopping the clock at 15:49. And, apparently Jake Link spent a little too hard in the effort to stay with Gonzales. Link was overtaken late by Broomfield's Ricardo Ocampo. And that was just the start of the Broomfield rout.
Following Link in third were five places of mix-and-match Niwot, Erie, and Denver North. Then came the sound of a slamming door as Jake Mitchem crossed in ninth, Daniel Alvarez-Chao in 11th, and Jake Morris in 12th. That kind of scoring depth wasn't something that Niwot, Erie, and Denver North would find until some 30 seconds later. And, in cross country terms, that is an eternity.
This one figured to be one of the state's most predictable regions going in, and nobody was all that surprised to see Broomfield, Erie, Niwot, and Denver North go 1-2-3-4. The only thing that took anyone by surprise was the margin of Broomfield's victory.
But Gonzales' run was as much a set-up act as a victory. Roughly 45 minutes after Gonzales crossed to finish line, Elise Cranny crossed to start line. That was the only point of the race where leadership was in doubt.
Cranny ran 5000 meters as she always runs--way out in front, eyes aimed a little toward down, and with a seemingly effortless stride. The clock stopped on her effort at 16:48.
Behind Cranny, her Niwot teammates were cleaning up any scraps that happened to fall off the table. Jenna McCaffrey went hard into second early, but eventually had to dial back her pace and recalibrate her ambitions. Christa Boettiger took a more patient approach that had her challenging for second by the second half of the race. Emily Cranny and Kela Fetters moved their respective ways methodically through the field. In the end, the 1-2-5-9-12 finish beat second-place Broomfield by 32 points. And it really wasn't that close. Centaurus and Erie rounded out the list of team qualifiers for state.
Denver North's Kayla Young ran the better part of the race in second before succumbing to the relentless pressure applied by Boettiger. Still, it's been a remarkable season for the Denver North freshman and clearly one that portends bigger things down the road.