The Pine Creek girls may let you out in front for a spell, but they will also chase you down. Photo by Alan Versaw.
The State Forecast series follows this format:
1. Team Discussion - We'll dig into the prospects for each of the top five teams as ranked in the final Colorado Track XC coaches poll.
2. Individual Discussion - This, of course, gets a bit more subjective, but I'll try to identify the top five individuals for each race (knowing full well that maybe not any of the races will finish in the projected order) and discuss what the chances look like for each.
4A Girls Teams
5 - Pine Creek: Until this latest poll, Max Oliver's Eagles had fallen out of the 4A top five, and at one point almost out of the 4A consciousness. They've come back with a passion lately. It doesn't hurt that Devon Kroeker is back healthy again. Sarah Bassett, Layla Almasri and Athena Kuehn have been running well. Momentum is building rapidly in the Pine Creek camp, and this is a team that could surprise some folks at State. The Eagles were a scant six points back of Air Academy in 4A Region 2.
4 - Durango: The Demons might qualify as the 4A surprise team of the season. Last fall, the Demons limped home to a 21st-place finish at State and didn't seem to be headed much of anywhere. All that started to change with the new season this fall. The Demons started finding succes in smaller meets, then in larger meets. Last week, they came to 4A Region 5 and laid waste to the region. Five of the top eight places went to Demons Abby Scott, Madeleine Burns, Anna Smagacz, Bekah Moenning, and Kiara Hamlin. Like Pine Creek, this team could end up being way more trouble at state than anyone had an inkling of even as recently as a couple of weeks ago.
3 - Centaurus: The Warriors weren't much short of a complete team last fall, and the addition of Riley Geldean and Katie Hooten this fall has definitely helped lift this team to the next level. Back-to-back freshman classes that yield Geldean, Hooten, Helen Gover, and Brooke Calvo are the sort of gift that keeps on giving for a few years, so don't be surprised if this team is even better next year.
2 - Air Academy: Maybe you noticed that Air Academy slipped to #2 in the latest rankings. Make of that what you will, but it really doesn't matter much. It all gets settled on the course on Saturday, anyway. And, be sure that Air Academy is still a very good team. A very fast regional showing by Battle Mountain on a very fast course and a closer-than-expected race with Pine Creek by Air Academy probably tilted the rankings, but this is still the same Air Academy team that's blown a lot of very good teams out of the water. The order shuffles a little behind Maria Mettler and Tatum Miller, but they seem to be able to get the job done regardless of the ordering of Moss, Hamilton, Urschel, and Braza.
1 - Battle Mountain: This team has been for real all season. If you've been watching the team and understand the nature of the Connected Lakes course, Battle Mountain's regional result isn't all that surprising. Are the Huskies really better than the Kadets (and the rest of 4A's top teams)? They get to answer that question on Saturday. This much we do know--having Naomi Harding back and running at the front with Elizabeth Constien, Lizzy Harding, and Alex Raichart makes for a very formidable roster.