Team: Dakota Ridge (CO)
Analysis: After only finishing seventh at last year's NXN Southwest Regional, a rank this high might seem like a surprise but the numbers point to them being one of the top-ranked teams in the nation.
Four of the top five and six of the top seven guys who raced at the Southwest Region meet last fall are back in 2018, including the top two. Austin Vancil was the teams' number one guy at the Class 5A Colorado State Cross Country Championships and number two guy at the Southwest Region meet. Rising junior Conner Ohlson was the teams' number one guy at the Southwest Region meet and number two guy at the Class 5A Colorado State Cross Country Championships. Both Vancil and Ohlson also had solid track seasons, which is typically a good indicator of big things to come in cross-country.
In addition to possessing a strong 1-2 upfront punch, Dakota Ridge has also developed depth on the back end in their 5-7 guys. One in particular who could make a big jump this season is rising sophomore Jacob White. Last year, White finished 111th at the state meet in 17:24.70 and 181st at NXN Southwest in 16:39.
The team's average 5K time based on 2017 PR's is 15:57.51 while their 1-5 split is 1:18.26. This team could be not only one of the best in Colorado but one of the best in the nation if they continue to improve that 1-5 split.