In this week's Monday News and Notes section we talk about the possible impact the return of Kaitie Vanatta means for Colorado's Dakota Ridge. We also discuss the opener of all-American Emily Sisson and focus forward to the big weekend ahead, which includes the first state championships of the season, this one taking place in Alaska.
Monday News & Notes (9/29)
Dave Sanders Invitational (CO)
The girls varsity team at Dakota Ridge (CO) received a big boost Saturday, as Kaitie Vanatta (pictured left by Ken Regan) returned to the line-up and won the DI race. For the past two years Vanatta's been injured off and on. A healthy Vanatta could mean a big boost for Dakota Ridge, who looks to repeat as state champions and earn a trip to Nike Cross Nationals.
Vanatta simply ran away from the field in the DI varsity race. Her finishing time of 18:27 easily outdistanced runner-up Camille Logan (Littleton, CO) by 16 seconds. Her finish also paced Dakota Ridge to a 74-93 victory of Chaparral (CO).
In the girls DII race, U.S. ranked Thompson Valley (CO) placed five in the top ten, while earning a 20-39 victory over Mullen (CO). Laura Tremblay led the way with her first place finish of 19:05, 18 seconds ahead of second place.
The boys DI race promised to be a great one as well. Foot Locker finalist Evan Appel (Sr., Dakota Ridge, CO) took command early and never looked back, avenging two earlier loses in the season to Dart Schwarderer (Sr., Wheat Ridge, CO) and Bobby Nicolls (Sr., Regis, CO). Appel crossed the line in 15:30, while Andrew Roberts (Lyons, CO) took second in 15:44. Schwarderer placed third in 15:47, while Bobby Nicolls faded and finished 13th.
Appel's win also helped guide his team to a big-time victory. The team placed well, scoring 74 points, while Wheat Ridge (CO) came in a close second with 82 points and third place Chaparral (CO) placed third with 87 points.
Rim Rock Farm XC Classic (KS)
While runners across the country change schools over the summer for various reasons, the biggest move came from Emily Sisson (pictured far left by Tracy Rollins). The two-time Foot Locker finalist moved from Nebraska to Missouri, joining the Parkway Central High School (MO) team. Sisson opened up her big meet season by earning a first place finish at the Rim Rock Farm XC Classic.
Sisson and teammate Diane Robison ran away from the field, outdistancing themselves early. Sisson crossed the line over the challenging 4k course in 14:29, while Robison placed second in 14:45. Despite finishing 1-2, Jefferson City (MO) actually snuck up and won the team title. The squad beat healthy Iowa City West (IA) squad 106-128 behind a top seven that all placed in the top 40 and running a 1:10 1-5 split.
In the boys varsity gold race, St. Louis University High (MO) continued their successful season, winning the team title by a 101-182 margin over runner-up Liberty (MO). The team ran a 34 second split and averaged 16:56 over the 5k spread. Austin Cookson led the way with a seventh place finish in 16:34.
Individually, Connor Callahan (De Smet Jesuit) won, placing first with a time of 16:16. David Roberts of Mulvane placed second nine seconds behind in 16:25.
The Week Ahead
The season continues to push ahead this coming weekend, as a handful of meets take center stage. Perhaps the most important of all the meet is the first state meet of the season. With the cold and darkness of winter quickly approaching, the Alaska State Cross Country Championships takes place Saturday. Defending state champions Trevor Dunbar (Sr., Kodiak, AK) and Leah Francis (Jr., Juneau-Douglas, AK) look to repeat and both have had strong seasons. They'll also be looking to guide their teams to state championship team titles.
Elsewhere, the FLRunners.com Invitational presented by Nike hosts some great races. The top race of the day will be the clash between Florida Foot Locker finalists Ashley Brasovan (Sr., Wellington, FL), Kayla Hale (Sr., Holy Trinity, FL) and Brittany Koziara (Sr., Boone, FL). While Brasovan is the heavy favorite, this is her season opener, so anything is possible.
The Nike South Invitational (TX) and Wendy's Invitational (NC) are two other top tier meets. Nike South tends to showcase many of the top squads in the NXN South Region, especially Texas squads. The Woodlands, Cedar Park and Southlake Carroll are all powerful Texas squads with some top talent. The Wendy's Invitational hosts many of the top teams from North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, meaning each varsity level race should have some national worthy news to report.