Andrew Walton ran a PR of 15:48.58 to place 18th in last fall's Nike Cross Regionals - Southwest championship race where he was the highest-placing sophomore. Colorado Track XC file photo.
I don't know anyone who doesn't like Coach Jonathan Dalby. My Facebook page regularly shows status updates from Coach Dalby, and they're instantly plastered with double digits of Likes. He has the courage to herd 60 sweaty kids into IHOP following a summer group run and then takes and posts photos of them eating breakfast together. He's one of the most genuinely nice, and admired, people I know.
And that easy-going demeanor has translated into a lot of cross country success in a very short time. I know some hard-edged coaches have seen some serious cross country success, but I'm inclined to believe that, in the long run. coaches like Coach Dalby get more out of their kids. The "thundering, velvet hand" that Dan Fogelberg sang about a generation ago lives on in the coaching at Mountain Vista High School.
So, it's not entirely surprising that Mountain Vista is headed into this fall as a team on everyone's watch list. When you can take a couple of big hits to graduation and come back with a roster such as the Golden Eagles have for this fall, there are some
good great things going on in your program.
Andrew Walton is now a junior. And it appears that his apprenticeship is done. He is now the master runner, the leader of the pack, and the one who must sound the trumpet. His role is no longer one of support, but he may have been better in that role than anyone else in the state. In fact, he was so good at that role that you probably don't realize he brings in the top returning time (counting NXR-SW and Foot Locker MW) and the second returning place from state in 5A cross country this fall. Whether he likes it or not, Walton is a marked man.
Right behind Walton are five guys who are legitimate sub-17 types. The posse goes by the names of Carson Hart, Stephen Geisler, Eric Steiner, Noel Wagner, and Seth Parker. With the possible exception of Parker, each of these guys have accumulated a lot of big meet experience. Not too much is going to unsettle this crew. I have no idea who's working hardest this summer, but one of these five probably isn't going to be part of the team score for Mountain Vista at the state meet this year. A lot of the rest of us would like to have that problem.
Amazingly, Mountain Vista finds ways for all of these guys to sharpen their game in track meets. That means a lot of split squad meets during the season. As burdensome as that may be, it clearly has a way of paying off during cross country season.
And, if you sift through those track and field results from this spring, you'll glean at least a couple of more names who could become significant contributors in the fall. You'll find Blake Graf (4:45/10:46). You'll find Tyler Matzke (5:09/10:45). As, as you might have suspected, Graf was a sophomore and Matzke a freshman last school year. These guys are young; there's a lot of upside potential here. If not this season, then certainly by next year.
It can take a long time to work your way to the top in a program like Mountain Vista's.
To my reckoning, there is a pretty clear top five of 5A boys teams headed into this fall's season. And Mountain Vista is one of those teams. Mountain Vista finished a very strong second last fall. This fall they have a golden opportunity to take it to the top.