If you're looking for the most dangerous runner in the region who may not already be on your radar screen, Lillian Markusch is one to consider. Colorado Track XC file photo by Alan Versaw.
The number one thing you need to know about this region is that Cherry Creek returns five sub-19s. And that doesn't even include Katie Plomondon, who ran a best time of 19:17 last fall. Of the five who ran under 19-flat last fall, Devon Peterson didn't run track in the spring, but the remainder of Jordyn Colter, Lillian Markusch, Emily Cutter, and Carrie Plank enjoyed very nice track seasons. The Bruins enter the season as enormous favorites in 5A Region 2. And, they're definitely in the conversation as state favorites as well. It's difficult to recall a Cherry Creek team this talented and this deep.
Where all this could get very interesing might be at the #2 regional position. There, we have Regis Jesuit, Grandview, and Cherokee Trail vying for the honor. You could make a case for any of the three based off of last year's cross country results, but track points a lot of fingers in Cherokee Trail's direction.
Amy McConnell established herself as the real deal on the cross country course last fall. But this spring brought Jordan Herrera and Maria Redman into the picture as well. Redman was buried deep on the depth chart last fall, but showed some solid improvement in the spring. Herrera was not quite as buried on the cross country depth chart, but easily led CT this spring at both 1600 and 3200 meters. McConnell could have some company up front this fall. Lynsie Roper saw only limited track and field action this spring, but could be very much back in the thick of things this fall.
Regis Jesuit seems to lose most of their cross country team to other sports during track season, though Julia Vitella had a limited number of nice performances this spring. Lindsey Koch had an enormous road race result earlier this summer, underscoring the fact that she is ready for ready for cross country season (Koch specializes in 300 hurdles in track). We'll have to wait another few weeks to see what Anna Rafalski and Katie Schilmoeller bring back this fall.
Grandview loses Erin Norton to graduation, but still returns a strong roster. Kayla Vallin returns and comes off a track season that saw her running mostly 800s. Her cross country times, however, suggest she goes longer distances well. Melanie Jenkins, another sub-20 from last fall, didn't see the track this spring. Nicole Mundy and Sylvana Ross went to shorter events in track. Rachel Shaw is the only one of the returning cross country top five who saw a lot of distance in track this spring. We'll have to wait and see how all that plays out this fall. But, the potential for a very strong team is there.
Heritage, Fruita Monument, Grand Junction, and Bear Creek would appear to be lined for opportunities at the fifth, and final, state qualifying berth out of the region. Three of the four teams face issues of scoring depth.
Heritage appears to have the most robust scoring lineup in place from last year. They return Annika Reuter--a near-19 type--and four more who ducked below 21 at some point during the season. This won't keep pace with any of the front four, but a little across-the-board improvement could nudge Heritage up the ladder a little.
Grand Junction has Clarissa Berry out front, but only one more proven sub-21 in Avery Pope.
Fruita Monument, ever the rival of Grand Junction, matches the Tiger pair with Mackennea Broyes and Michaela Hoffman. Broyles was absent from track this spring, but Hoffman had a state-placing kind of 300 hurdles season this spring. Never underestimate the ability of a 300 hurdler to emerge into a solid cross country type.
Bear Creek's reach must be the greatest. The Bears return no sub-20s, and only Kayla Woodward run sub-6 in track this spring.