Can the Peak to Peak Black Cloud do something special on Saturday? Read on and find out. Colorado Track XC file photo.
The state cross country meet is the Super Bowl of high school cross country. It doesn't require much hyping; it is the big event.
But, there are always interesting subplots that go into the state meet. In this article, I'll try to identify what some of those subplots are. I admit this list is a bit on the subjective side. These are, first and foremost, my questions about the state meet and how it will play out on Saturday. But, I hope you enjoy the read and, even more, I hope that you find yourself intrigued by some of the same questions that are making a pass through my head right now.
1. Elise Cranny v. Katie Rainsberger - Who's going to come out ahead in this one? Will it be the old guard or the new? The two have managed not to meet all season. Early in the season, I think Cranny would have won, hands down. But, Rainsberger has gotten steadily better. This one will be fun to watch in the 4A girls race.
2. Jordyn Colter and sub-18 - Can Jordyn Colter run sub-18 on this course? She's run 17:01 and 17:00 this season on faster courses, but she ran 19:17 to win at this course at the Cheyenne Mountain Stampede on opening weekend. By the way, I'm not conceding the race to Colter, but she will be very, very tough to beat if she can circuit this course in less than 18 minutes.
3. Peak to Peak Boys - I've now done my research. Since 1977, when races went to three miles (shortly thereafter they went to 5K), no boys team has won a small school (scoring four or fewer runners) state title without at least one medalist (top ten finisher). Only one girls team has done it.* It's not impossible that Peak to Peak wins and has a medalist, but their top runner currently ranks 16th in 3A and they have run a couple of fast courses this fall. I'm sure Coach Richey Hansen and his guys would prefer to win and have at least one state medalist (sometimes winning trumps making history) but, as of this moment, both are live questions. So, simply stated, here is the question: Can Peak to Peak win the 3A boys state title without a state medalist?
4. Pine Creek v. The Giants - Monarch and Fort Collins are the established queens of 5A girls cross country. There is no reasonable dispute over that claim. But, there's a new rival to the throne this fall. It's clear that Pine Creek is capable of running with these two through #4, but will the Eagles get that magical run at #5 that puts them into position to take down the Giants of 5A girls? Mind you, Pine Creek has run well at #5 all season long, but they will need even more to run with Monarch and Fort Collins on Saturday.
5. Paul Roberts - Honestly, this one looks like a good bet, but it's not a done deal. As best as I can tell--and I thank Greg Weich for raising the question on the forum a few days ago--Paul Roberts will become the first boy to win a boys individual state cross country title as a freshman if he wins on Saturday. Nobody from 2A has come close to Roberts this season, but there are a few folks Roberts hasn't seen yet this season who will be taking aim.
6. Coronado - Will the Magical Mystery Tour continue one more week? Everything Coronado has touched has turned to gold this season. Can anyone or anything turn aside the Cougars' quest for the 4A boys state title?
7. Ashi and Cerake Geberkidane - Can the brothers go 1-2? I don't have individual results dating back before 1977, but I do believe this would be the first brother act to go 1-2 in boys state cross country. It has been done before by sisters.** There has also been a brother-sister act to have a 1-2 finish.*** Unless it was done way back in the day, however, no brother pair has finished 1-2 in a Colorado state cross country race, at any level.
8. Eva-Lou Edwards - We all know she's for real, but where does this train get off? At the CM Stampede, she ran the second-fastest time of all of the girls in the entire meet. Can she take over the time top for all classifications this time? She trains at 7000 feet with ample access to hills. This course doesn't figure to intimidate her much.
9. 4A Field Size and the Initial Creek Crossing - Can 30 amped-up teams safely squeeze through the creek crossing at about 400 meters or did the powers that be create a monster when they increased the 4A field size to 30 teams (from the 24 at the committee meeting last fall)?
10. Fort Collins boys - It's something of a longshot, but so was Centaurus last year. Can Fort Collins graduate their entire scoring five from the 2011 state title team and come back to win the boys state title again in 2012?
* - The TCA girls won the 2004 3A state title with their top finisher in 12th. The 2004 TCA girls also have the distinction of being the only small school (scoring four or fewer, either gender) to win a state title--at least since 1977--with 100 or more team points.
** - This distinction belongs Megan and Katelyn Kaltenbach, 2002
*** - This distinction belongs to Chris and Calley Nelson, accomplished in both 1986 and 1987,