If Katie Rainsberger's regional domination was the warm-up routine for state, we have a lot watch out for, and to look forward to. Photo by Alan Versaw.
Editor's note: The 4A analyses are coming to me separately, so I will publish separately, but remaining with the pattern of ladies first...
4A Girls Teams
1. Mountain View – Prior to last week’s 4A Region 4 race Mountain View would have been the prohibitive favorite to win state. Not so anymore. It’s not that Mountain View ran poorly, which they didn’t, it’s that Thompson Valley ran really well, ensuing in a tie that was broken by the 6th runner (even then it was a scant one point advantage for Mountain View). Coach Clark’s team has run well all season, picking up a huge win in the Div 2 section at Liberty Bell…a race in which they took down numerous 5A teams, including highly touted Pine Creek. The Mountain Lions are led by the one-two punch of Riley Cooney and Lauren Offerman, both of whom have been their number one runner. They are backed up nicely by Katie Benner, McKenna Dellinger, Alison Peters, and Abby Stewart.
2. Thompson Valley – Matt Norton’s defending champs have really come on strong as of late. They have closed the gap on the top 4A teams throughout the season, especially last week. Thompson Valley and Mountain View are complete opposites. Whereas Mountain View has two low sticks up front, the Eagles rely on a strong pack which was a slim 45 seconds for their 1-5 runners at Regionals. Compare that to Mountain View’s two-minute pack and this is shaping up to be a real battle for the team title. Thompson Valley sports senior leadership in Kendra Larson, Ellie Colpitts, and Kacie Kaufman along with youngsters Helena Ernst and Emily Leidig.
3. Niwot – Second last year, they lost the services of All-Everything Elise Cranny. Still they offer experience in returnees Jenna McCaffrey and Christa Boettiger, along with Elise’s younger sister Emily. The junior Cranny has developed nicely and is helping Niwot round into shape for another high team finish.
4. Palmer Ridge – They probably surprised everyone in claiming the 4A Region 2 title over favored Air Academy and ever-strong The Classical Academy. They are led by Audree Furst and Hannah Capek. Given their recent rise, they are not a team to be taken lightly.
5. Air Academy/The Classical Adademy (pick ‘em) – Air Academy boasts the likely individual champion in Katie Rainsberger. Behind her is a talented freshman named Lilliana Hamilton. The Classical Academy leads off with Megan Percy and then a tremendous pack after her. Coach Versaw’s 2-6 runners were separated by a mere 14 seconds at Regionals. AA and TCA are fairly even, with Air Academy enjoying a three point advantage over The Classical Academy at regionals.
4A Girls Individuals
Katie Rainsberger – After runner-up finishes to Elise Cranny the last two years, this appears to be Rainsberger’s race to lose. She’s undefeated in Colorado. In addition, she won the highly competitive Desert Twilight Invitational in Arizona, which was held on the new NXR-SW course. Her winning time there, an outstanding 16:41! Plain and simple, she is the favorite!
Kayla Young – As much of a favorite as Rainsberger is to win, Kayla Young is just as much favored to be second. The vastly improved Young has won seven meets in a row, and ran very fast at the Wiggins Invitational. That being said, it would be an upset if she were to win.
The Field – A step below Rainsberger and Young one will find the Mountain View duo of Cooney and Offerman, who likely might be more focused on smart racing with the team title on the line. D’Evelyn’s Lexi Reed, who boasts a narrow victory over Young, along with the talented Greta Van Calcar from Palisade, and mountain tough Aubrey Till of Canon City, should place well.