The Favorite(s): Cole Sprout.
Defending state champ Cole Sprout looks stronger than ever. Proof of this statement can easily be found by acknowledging his 14:16 5k performance at Desert Twilight - that's the third fastest cross country 5k by a high schooler ever. Add that Colorado record of 14:38 at Liberty Bell, and yeah, he's a clear cut favorite.
And then things get a little, hazy...
Parker Wolfe and Connor Ohlson stand out among the rest when it comes to Most Likely To Finish Second To Cole Sprout - but who will take the prize?
On paper Wolfe has the faster time this season. His 14:47 runner-up finish to Sprout at Liberty Bell was an incredible run, and any other year would've been heralded as the greatest run in years. Additionally, his nine-second gap was the closest any Coloradan has come to Sprout this year (tied with Ohlson). Beyond that, he's raced sparingly - just three other times. A win at the Arapahoe Warrior Invite, and a third-place finish at Roy Griak (while sick), and a tight win in 15:57 at regionals just days ago.
Ohlson, on the other hand, hasn't raced on any insanely fast courses this season. Though when he has raced, he's dropped some of the fastest times run on whatever course he's racing on. Like that 15:15 win at Pat Patten - which is his fastest time this season. Additionally, he finished 17 seconds behind Sprout at the JeffCo 5A League Championships, and nine seconds behind him in Thursday's region meet, where he ran 15:55 - two seconds faster than Wolfe on the same course.
Add that Ohlson the defending state runner-up...
The Favorite(s): Mountain Vista and Dakota Ridge.
The Stage is set for battle. What's at stake: The defending state champs, Dakota Ridge, to take on the 2017 state champs, Mountain Vista.
Mountain Vista reigned over the Coaches Poll all season. At Pat Patten they inched by Dakota Ridge by one point. At Regionals it was Dakota Ridge with a dominating victory over Mountain Vista.
Though, the challenge with analyzing the team race is that both squads have raced in various forms of fitness and effort. In other words - we haven't seen these two squads battle at full strength, yet.
Dakota Ridge took regionals by over 40 points, setting the stage for another big clash at state.
They key will come with their No. 4 and No. 5 runners. Both teams have a solid 1-2-3, but after that is where the race will be won, or lost.
And we can't count out Fort Collins - the fastest squad in 5A this year. They've been quietly lurking behind Mountain Vista and Dakota Ridge all season. And like the two teams ranked in front of them, we haven't seen a full-strength Fort Collins squad just yet.
Next Page: A National-caliber battle in Colorado...