Two of the best squads in the country came out 4A last year, and this year looks like it could be three...
On paper in terms of speed the defending state champs look like they've got the squad to make another run at the state title.
Not on paper, they're actually stronger than they look.
Samrawit Dishon returns as Niwot's fastest 5ker from 2018 with a stellar 17:24 personal best, and Niwot has 4x state champ and last year's state XC runner-up Taylor James with a 17:37 personal best as well.
Add Joelle McDonald and Eva Klingbeil and they've already got four sub 19 minute 5kers. Ashley Edwards rounds out their top five returners with a 19:17 PR, and then there's Amelia Philofsky, who returns as their sixth fastest with a 19:19.
Not on this list is Lucca Fulkerson, who competed in 2A last fall, and in 4A for Niwot in the spring. Fulkerson's 18:24 PR from Nike Cross Regionals not only really drops their team average and their 1-5 split, it gives them five returners under 19 minutes, and seven under 19:20. Add that Fulkerson finished fourth in the 3,200 at State, and sixth in the 1,600.
Niwot just added yet another all-star to their squad, which was one that finished fifth at Nike Cross Nationals last year.
On that note, the returning lists of teams, and even individuals for 4A comes with a bit of an asterisk, because quite a few athletes have transferred to other schools in other classifications.
Isabella Prosceno now competes for Valor Christian. This alters Palmer Ridge's team average. Likewise, Evergreen took a hit, as their top two runners - Lanie Szuch and Bri Teegarden also run for Valor.
Back to the point...
If there's anyone who can challenge Niwot, it'll be Air Academy and last year's runner-up, Battle Mountain.
Air Academy's Tatum Miller has cracked 18 minutes every year of her high school career. Her 17:46 season best from 2018 topped the squad, which returns five of seven from last year's state team which placed third at State.
Miller's expertise on the big stage will be vital to Air Academy, as they return a relatively young squad. This makes them dangerous.
Incoming sophomores Ella Chura and Dylan Teeples have already cracked 19, which Chura nearly knocking in 18 minutes. Brooke Moss gives the squad four sub 19 minute returners, and it's nearly five, as Zoe Lachnidt owns a 19:02 season best.
Battle Mountain hasn't really had to rebuild in years, and this year looks no different. It's more like re-loading.
Grace Johnson returns as the squads lone sub 18 runner, though she's not entirely alone.
Battle Mountain looks a lot like Academy through 1-3 runners in terms of speed. Elliot Pribramsky owns a 18:18 season best, while Emma Reeder has run 18:38. Josephine Trueblood and Samantha Lindall round out their top five returners, giving Battle Mountain five under 19:20 - and six under 19:23 with Hayley Diemar.
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