3A Girls State Preview
Top Teams in the Hunt: Peak to Peak, Steamboat Springs, The Classical Academy, D'Evelyn, Frontier Academy
What Does Each Team Need?
Peak to Peak - The prohibitive favorite, and defending champs, bring
virtually the same exact line-up as last year to Norris Penrose. Led by nationally-ranked Quinn McConnell,
along with Anna Shults and Tiana Bradfield, Peak to Peak lines up the best
1-2-3 punch in 3A. McConnell is the
individual favorite, and given that cooler conditions are forecast for
Saturday, it's likely that she won't wilt in the heat as she did with a big
lead last year. In 2016, she still
managed to finish second, followed closely by the formidable Shults. On any given day, Shults is a threat for the
title as well. Thus, if McConnell
and Shults race as they're capable of and Bradfield is somewhere near the top
10-12 places, it could be lights out for anyone else. After their top three cross the line, they'll
be counting on Allison Beasley and Ellie Triem to seal the deal for the
Pumas. Therefore, it's no secret that
Kim McConnell's girls will be hard to beat come Saturday.
Steamboat Springs - The Sailors have been improving all season and
creeping up the rankings in the process. They come into the state meet ranked 2nd in the final coaches
poll. Fresh off a dominant performance
out of the Region 1 meet, Steamboat Springs may pose the biggest threat to Peak
to Peak's chances. At that meet,
sophomore Maggi Congdon led a 1-2-3 finish along with teammates Winter Boese
and Dasha Kuznetsova. They just may have
the horses up front to offer a challenge to Peak to Peak. However, they'll need Sadie Cotton and either
Isabelle Boniface or Emily Craig to substantially close the gap, as it was a
two-minute spread between Kuznetsova and Cotton at Regionals. Nevertheless, the virtual score through three
runners should be pretty tight between them and Peak to Peak, with the outcome
in the balance from there.
The Classical Academy - No stranger to "being in the hunt," the Titans are
seeking yet another state title. TCA
survived a tight battle with always tough Alamosa at the Region 2 meet. Without the services of recent All-Stater
Chantae Steele, the Titans are still quite formidable. In fact, it's their pack that is their
strength this year. So, it seems they'll
have to rely upon Kaylee Thompson, who has become their number one of late, to
try to squeeze into the top 10, while Katie Flaherty and McKenzie Elliott try
to replicate their top 15 finishes from last year. If that happens, then The Classical Academy
will be in business, as Sarah Burroughs was not too far behind Flaherty at
Regionals. If Mikayla Curl or Erin Percy can be the
best #5 from any team, then TCA might yet bring home another title.
D'Evelyn - The Jaguars were
another squad that was involved in a close result at their regional, defeating
Elizabeth by a mere three points. Freshmen rule the day at D'Evelyn as they are led by Taylor and Katelyn Haerbig, Sonja Morin, Kati Livingood, Lauren Cook, and Peyton Fritchie - all
freshman, as well as junior Corin Zapico.
Sporting a tidy 60 second 1-5 pack time at regionals, the question
remains how will the big stage affect all of their freshmen? Will they be giddy as many freshmen can be,
not recognizing the magnitude of the state meet, or will they feel some of the
extended pressures that come along with competing at the state meet? If the former holds true, then D'Evelyn
should present a stiff challenge to all.
Frontier Academy - The beneficiaries of the largest margin of victory in
all the 3A Regionals, a whopping 75 points, the Wolverines enter state with loads
of confidence. Top runner Hannah Ellis
absolutely decimated the rest of the competition at the regional, winning by a
gigantic 80 second gap. Along with Ellis,
toeing the line will be Audrynn Street, Samantha Angus, Aleigha Street, and
Peyton Meyer. The issue for them will be
closing the gap between Ellis and the rest of their top 5 girls. If they're successful in doing that, then FA
could podium and possibly win it all at Norris Penrose on Saturday.
Seeking that elusive first cross country title (to go along with
several in track) Quinn McConnell is the one to beat on Saturday. Having run fast, both in state and out of
state (out of country, too, for that matter), McConnell has established herself
as the favorite. Undefeated in Colorado,
McConnell looks to lead her team to a repeat state title as well as a team
berth for NXN. Quinn qualified for NXN
as an individual last year and is ranked as one of the top 12 runners
nationally. In fact, she represented the
USA in Italy last summer at the World Mountain Running Championships. Accolades aside, she'll still have to beat a
stellar field this weekend.
If McConnell doesn't win, then her teammate Anna Shults just might.
Shults has several state track titles to her name as well. Anna came in a hair behind McConnell at the
state XC meet last year...so there's that.
Shults will likely be making sure that she runs a solid race so that her
favored Pumas secure the team title.
Still, if there's an opening for the front, she won't be afraid to take
Hannah Ellis is probably next in line as a potential individual
titlist. Having an excellent season, the
Frontier Academy senior obliterated the field at Region 4 last Thursday. She won't be afraid to push the pace and try
to pull an upset over the aforementioned Peak to Peak runners.
Rising star Maggi Congdon won her regional and has stamped herself as a
contender, though likely just outside the McConnell, Shults, Ellis
triumvirate. Additionally, Congdon might
not take too many risks as she and her Steamboat teammates are looking for that
perfect day to upset Peak to Peak. That
being said, she's a good one and if she doesn't surprise everyone with a
shocking victory this year her name will be high atop the list of favorites in
Anna Ponzio, fresh off a victory in Region 5, has enjoyed a very solid
cross country career. The Colorado
Academy senior will likely be on the outside looking in, but prepared to pounce
if things go awry for any of the more substantial favorites.
Rachel Ingram defeated last year's state 4th placer Hannah
McReavy at Region 2 last week. Therefore
Ingram, representing Colorado Springs Christian, must be entered into the
discussion as a possible titlist. As
with some of the others previously mentioned, she'll need things to go her
way. However, she's tough and strange
things happen at the state meet each and every year.