The Classical Academy and D'Evelyn are the two fastest returning squads this fall.
On paper this one already looks like a three-team race, or perhaps a two-team race, if we're only looking at personal bests.
In terms of speed the 2018 state champs return as the fastest squad.
While three of The Classical Academy's top five from that state championships squad graduated, it appears that they'll most likely just be reloading, and not rebuilding.
Between Kennedy McDonald, Rebecca Thompson, and Kotryna Obergfell they've got three of the Top 9 returners in terms of speed. Add that McDonald and Thompson finished in the Top 9 at the 2018 State Championships.
They return three sub-19 5kers and an entire Top 5 who have broken 19:40 already.
Their 19:03 team average tops this list - not by much - but it does set them apart from nearly every other squad in 3A, except for two. They've got a 1-5 split of 1:11, which doesn't leave a lot of room for challengers, meaning that TCA looks just just as strong as they did in 2018.
But speaking of challengers...
D'Evelyn returns their entire Top 5 from their 2018 third-place state squad, and six of their top seven. Additionally, of all of their top returners none of them are seniors. This bodes well, very well, for their next two years...
Eliana Thompson and Taylor Haerbig lead this rapidly rising squad as two of the Top 8 returners based on speed. A year ago Thompson finished 10th at State, and Haerbig was 13th.
They've got a 19:18 team average, and a 1-5 split of 1:01 - this tops every team in the Top 10 minus Liberty, who's got a 51-second 1-5 gap.
Only three schools have team averages under 20 minutes, or even 19:33, which hints at the potential of a three-time race for the title.
In terms of speed Frontier Academy looks like the other squad who could challenge the defending state champs.
They've got some solid firepower up front with Audrynn Street, Julia Brown, and Lexi Angus, who all return within the Top 12 based on time. Brown and Street finished 20th and 21st at State last year, leading Frontier to a fifth place team finish.
They return with a 19:33 team average, though their 1-5 split is 2:38.
Editor's Note: Some of the times listed were run at lower elevations, which will make the team average a little faster.
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