The Western Slope 4A has consistently produced several strong cross country programs for a few years running now. It's relatively easy to tap Battle Mountain for favorite status going into the fall, but there should be several solid teams staking out territory in this league this fall.
Battle Mountain - The Huskies have the look of a strong and deep team heading into the fall. Alexis Aguirre holds down the top position and comes off a state medalist finish as a sophomore last fall. Ethan Pence, who runs track for Vail Christian adds a nice bit of strength up front. Under the category of questions to be answered for the fall, Ty Willoughby has only one rankings meetresult in track and field from the entire spring. He projects as the #3 returning runner for Battle Mountain, but that could be subject to revision if he's not able to bounce fully back once the season gets going. Franklin Riley, the #4 returning runner from last fall never has run track. Jake Borel, the #5 runner coming back from last fall, had a nice track season this spring. Borel could very possibly move up in the order this fall.
Eagle Valley - Just down the road a piece from Avon, Battle Mountain meets what could be their stiffest competition in Eagle Valley. Graduation rocked this team a little, but Brandon Sheard and Aiden Branch figure to step capably to the front the fall. Isaac Yoder had the kind of spring in track that suggests he's ready for a bigger role as a cross country runner this fall. Matt Jordan provides some scoring depth.
Palisade - The Bulldogs' place here was earned mainly on account of an impressive set of 1600 performances this spring. Connor Dillon, John Moir, and Tanner Stelmach each served notice this spring that their fitness is coming along nicely. Sam Erickson ran shorter distances in track, but looks to be ready for a solid cross country campaign this fall as well. If Eagle Valley gets the slightest bit careless, this team won't be in their rear-view mirror any longer.
Glenwood Springs - It could be a matter of some concern that Zeb Thorsen wasn't running track this spring (although that's been true for him throughout high school), but Jacob Barsness and Austin Hawkins were running track. And, Riley Prough was finding himself in track distance events in a way that suggests he just might be part of Glenwood cross country when practice opens next month. Glenwood is a bit of a mystery team at this point--potentially good enough to climb a little in this league but also with enough questions hanging around that not much seems certain yet.
Delta - The Panthers have been doing better in distance in recent years, and this would be a nice fall to continue to build on that trend. Wade Stinson wasn't part of track this spring, and didn't run that many races in cross country last fall, but he did post a 17:43 at the regional meet last fall. Stinson is a definite wild card where the possibilities for this team are concerned. Sam and Gabe Rodriguez figure to provide depth and experience at the 2 and 3 positions.
Steamboat Springs - The Sailors edge out Summit for this spot on account of a better track season this spring and the tangible evidence of a program turnaround provided by the girls' stellar season last fall. But, it would still be helpful if Finn O'Connell came out for cross country this fall. O'Connell's three previous years of high school however, say he won't. In that case, the leadership role here falls to Peter Myller.
Summit - The Tigers could prove to be upwardly mobile here. Alex Lehman and Alex Mason are clearly the top two returners, but also the only returners under 20 minutes. To climb in this league, they will need a few more guys to find the south side of 20.
Rifle - Rifle isn't really even close to having enough returning runners to have a scoring team this fall. The good news, though, is that the Bears had six young men who should be good in school this fall log 1600 times in track this spring. Jack Rubalcave is, far and away, the top returning runner for Rifle. If he can help light a fire through the rest of the team, perhaps some nice things start to happen this fall.