Ian Meek brings the status of top returning finisher from last year to this year's 4A Boys state race. Photo by Tim Hilt.
A much anticipated match-up looms between defending champion Palmer Ridge and highly regarded Durango. Palmer Ridge, deservedly so, has occupied the #1 spot all season in the Saucony/Flo 50 Colorado Coaches Poll. However, the Durango Demons have been nipping at their heels all along.
This race should come down to which team has the closest scoring five. Each of these squads is bolstered by a pack time of 30 seconds, sometimes less.
Durango relies almost exclusively on its seniors, likely sending six of them to the line on Saturday. Leading the charge for them has been Benjamin Lachelt and William Chandler, with any combination of Nicholas Turco, David Moenning and Seamus Millett close behind. Being senior-laden, and having finished third last year, are they more hungry than Palmer Ridge?
Palmer Ridge returns four runners who were on their title team a year ago - Liam Cox, Andrew Lester, Jeremy Meadows, and Andrew Rudnicki. Does that make them any less determined? Doubtful for a Kelly Christensen coached team. Both schools won their regional races handily. Although Palmer Ridge's region was a little deeper with quality teams, Durango had a larger margin of victory.
If either of these two teams were to focus too much on one another, the likes of Air Academy, Battle Mountain, Centaurus, and The Classical Academy might sneak in and steal the show. Others looming are harriers from Cheyenne Mountain and Evergreen, both of who are vastly better than they were early in the season, as well as Thompson Valley, Mountain View and Erie.
Individually speaking, Ian Meek of Montrose is the top returning finisher (third as a sophomore last year) and by default is the favorite. The junior won his regional in comfortable fashion.
Looking to challenge will be Widefield's Maximilliano Martinez, hoping to not finish one spot behind Meek as he did last year. Martinez was victorious at his regional, as was TCA's Tanner Norman, who has a few blue ribbons of his own this fall. Alec Hornecker of Golden looks to have regained his mid-season form, winning his region also.
Others to keep an eye on are Matt Sease of Erie and Brooks MacDonald of Centaurus who raced to a photo finish at their regional, along with Jarrett Thollot of Thompson Valley, Peter Franklin of Mountain View, and Luc Hagen of Air Academy. Don't discount the kids from Palmer Ridge and Durango either, though they might be more cautious in trying to nail down the team win.
This one is going to be fun!