Kayla Young could be the top runner in the region, but from the team perspective it's Niwot's depth that has everyone concerned. Colorado Track XC file photo by Alan Versaw.
There might be a few surprises for you lurking in this region.
The first surprise is that Niwot, though Elise Cranny graduated, just might be a better team this fall than last. The second surprise is that newly-up-from-3A Holy Family figures to be one of the top teams in the region. Let's take a closer look.
Niwot returns a solid team of Christa Boettiger, Jenna McCaffrey, Emily Cranny, Kela Fetters, Niki Marshall, and Louise Vandenberghe. All six ran under 20:20 at least once last fall. All were busy with track and field this spring. And, speaking of track, whatever calculus we use to rank this time is going to have to figure Claire and Katherine Gillett and Jenna Edwards into the mix as well. And, that's going to make the Cougars very difficult to chase down--even before we stop to think about any incoming freshmen. Actually, we'll hold off any thoughts on incoming freshmen since there aren't many reliable assumptions to be made about what St. Vrain middle school students will end up at the various St. Vrain high schools. In any case, I can never keep it straight until they show up in uniforms at a cross country meet.
Holy Family returns a nice crew headed by Katie Chavez and Olivia Bartoletti--sub-20 types both of them. Eva Napierkowski is next up in the order, but about a minute back of Chavez and Bartoletti, or at least that's the way it was last fall. It could be construed as a little disconcerting, though, that we saw neither Chavez nor Bartoletti in track this spring.
And, if Holy Family isn't ready to hit the ground running when their first 4A season opens, Centaurus will be. The Warriors bring back a nice pair up front in Maggie Malone and Olivia Rogers. Meghan Davinroy showed some signs of improving strength this spring in track as well.
Erie, a very good team last fall, got rocked by graduation and will have some rebuilding to do. That figures to happen behind the lead of Kaitlyn Clark (although Sonia Martinez, who hasn't run cross country before, had the Tigers' best 1600 time this spring among returning runners). If the Tigers are going to be trouble this fall, some others will have to close up ranks behind her.
Denver North returns a very solid front two in sophomores Kayla Young and Rosa Gutierrez. It would be easy to be less cautiously optimistic about the Vikings' chances if we'd seen more of their cross country team during track season, however. That aside, Young may be the top runner in the region now that Elise Cranny has graduated. And, like Cranny, she may hold that title for a few years.
The rest of the region seems to be locked into developmental mode for the time being. Perhaps some one of these teams steps up and stands out early in the season. If so, we'll make note of it when it happens, but for the time being there is not clear picture of which team that might be.