After a couple years of working his way up through the ranks, Alex Fu has emerged as a major contributor for Vista Nation with his senior year still ahead of him. Colorado Track XC file photo by Alan Versaw.
This fall, Mountain Vista's boys made it three in a row. That matches the count for the Lyons boys as the state's current longest streak of consecutive state championships. And three in a row at the 5A level in no small accomplishment.
The big question, then, becomes, can the Golden Eagles make it four?
We'll look at the reasons to be skeptical (and they are few) first.
Mountain Vista graduates their #1 and #7 off their state team. Tyler Matzke, who finished first for Mountain Vista at state, has been a substantial contributor for Mountain Vista for several years now. There is no easy way to replace Matzke's talent. But, Mountain Vista hasn't been about easy for some time now.
Any other reasons to be skeptical likely have more to do with other teams rising in the 5A ranks than with any emerging weaknesses in the Mountain Vista program.
The reason to be optimistic begin with a team that returns five sub-17 runners from a year where they never got a fast course. Even Monument Valley Park turned on Vista Nation this fall. And, Ryan Currie barely got his season started before an injury cut it short. Still, this group returns Paxton Smith, Joshua Romine, Parker Mackay, Addison Hellier, Alex Fu, Ryan Currie, and Christopher Lovejoy with sub-17 season-best marks from this season.
And, Carter Dillon didn't miss by much. Any other team in the state would be delighted to have a 17:06 returning sophomore next fall. To be sure, Mountain Vista is probably delighted to have a 17:06 returning sophomore as well--they just happen to be the one team in the state where a 17:06 returning sophomore isn't more or less guaranteed a varsity position in the fall.
Lest we forget, Michael O'Sullivan, who returns as a senior next fall, also just barely missed breaking 17 minutes this fall.
So, Coach Dalby faces the usual (for him) problem of more wealth than he can shoehorn into a seven-man roster. While that's a good problem to have, it can still be a problem. If you want to give Dalby a headache, ask him where incoming freshman Ethan Rouse fits into the picture--assuming Rouse follows the usual progression from Mountain Ridge Middle School to Mountain Vista High School.
All this to say that if you find yourselves lined up against Mountain Vista's B varsity sometime next fall, don't feel cheated. You're still going to get all the test you can handle. But, if you want to line up against Mountain Vista, chances are you're going to have to avoid the speedways that pass as cross country courses on certain weekends of the year. Monument Valley Park is about as fast of a course as Mountain Vista ever runs, and that one might not even be on their schedule if it wasn't their regional course.
Mountain Vista's success, of course, isn't built on the fall program. It's built, rather, on the off-season program. Those who would beat Mountain Vista in the fall must take them on in the winter and over the summer.
Otherwise, that streak of three consecutive state titles is likely to grow a little longer next year.