Highlands Ranch phenom Eleanor Fulton had a very nice weekend, winning the Division II girls title at Liberty Bell and breaking the meet record in the process. Photos by Jeff McCoy.
This article is easier to write this week than last. The top competition was nicely narrowed down to a small cluster of meets this weekend.
Before I get to the meet results, however, one thing ought to be mentioned. Folks around these parts are growing weary of the heat. Thus far, the season has not been especially friendly to running cross country. That's not the same as saying people haven't been doing it well--just to say that doing it well comes with some extra agony this year.
No regional meet brought together as much talent as the Liberty Bell Invitational in Littleton, Colorado. The 33rd running of this classic brought all the usual adrenaline, start line crowding and jostling, but not the usual times. Mid-afternoon temperatures in the 90s took their toll and average times were off by something like 15 seconds (boys) and 17 seconds (girls).
Among the Colorado girls' teams, Monarch once again had the top overall showing, but if Fort Collins continues to close the gap as they did this weekend, the Coyotes could have a lot to think about by the time state rolls around. Fort Collins seems to have found the right combination of girls for the varsity roster and that could spell trouble for the opposition for the rest of the season. Veterans Erin Hooker and Marci Witczak are leading the way for Fort Collins.
Although both are 5A schools, Monarch and Fort Collins fall into different divisions at Liberty Bell. Fort Collins won Division I and Monarch won Division II. Not far back in Division II were Pine Creek and Highlands Ranch, likely two of the five best girls teams in Colorado. And, speaking of Highlands Ranch, Eleanor Fulton beat the heat to edge out a nearly 30-year-old course record with a time of 17:33.8.
For the boys, it was Albuquerque Academy taking home the hardware for the seventh time in the last nine years. Despite the heat, all of AA's top seven circuited the course in 16:36 or less. Fort Collins was a ways back in second, but is looking like a solid Colorado entry. Monarch, the top team in Colorado for weeks one and two, stumbled a little at Liberty Bell, but don't get too anxious to write them off. For now, though, add Heritage, the winner of the Division II race, to your list of serious Colorado boys teams. The top two overall boys times were only a second apart--Will Kincaid of Columbine at 15:34 and Keegan Vargo of Chaparral at 15:35.
With Albuquerque Academy, Los Alamos, and Rio Rancho off running in Colorado, things were a little quieter in New Mexico this weekend. Manzano looks like the top meet of the weekend from the outside looking in, but I've been stymied in getting results from that meet to this point.
No such doubt coming from Arizona. The meet of the weekend was the George Young Invitational in Scottsdale.
The George Young Invite provided more evidence that Xavier (girls) and Alhambra (boys) are likely the top teams in Arizona. Xavier's gap on the field is simply prohibitive. Alhambra enjoys a little more company.
Alhambra's winning effort in the boys' race was pace by a 15:50 by Jorge Martinez and a 4-6-10-23-25 team score. Mesa Mountain View and Brophy Prep took home second and third. Will Firth of Brophy took individual honors for 3 miles in the heat at 15:39.
Xavier Prep, which is on record as saying they will not run at NXN-SW, dominated the field with a 1-5-6-7-8 score. It takes a lot to be close to that score and nobody was there. Sarah Fakler wins in 17:47, more than a minute ahead of second. Mesa Mountain View was second, Highland third, and the rest were... well, distant.
In Utah, Bingham was dominant at the Top of Utah Team Relays, but the heavy hitters of Davis, Ogden, and American Fork were not there. For that matter, Mountain View and Park City weren't there.
Ogden was busy mopping up at a local city/county meet. It's safe to say Ogden doesn't have many peers in Weber County--and especially not on the girls' side of things. Avery Calton and Jamie Stokes ran 18:42 and 18:46, respectively, for what was reportedly a 5K course. We've been fooled by "5K" courses in Utah, before, though, so we'll suspend judgment on course length for now. Regardless, these two are the real deal.
Elsewhere in Utah, I'm having a difficult time scaring up results. Normally, this would be indicative that the meets taking place weren't of monumental importance, but American Fork, and a few other teams, were slated for the Provo Bulldog Invitational. Apparently the Bulldog ate the results. Maybe the Bulldog should have been at the football game instead of the cross country meet?
A final note on Utah: American Fork's Austin West was conspicuously absent from the meet results last weekend from the Wasatch Invitational. I'm not sure what, if anything, that means, but the situation simmers on my metaphorical back burner.
I'll add a link to the Provo results if the Bulldog coughs them up. Late Edit: Here is a link to the results:
Not to anyone's great surprise, American Fork and Davis were solidly ahead of everyone for the team titles. Pine View (boys) and Park City (girls) were distant seconds. American Fork retains its position as the premiere boys team in Utah, while Ogden and Davis retain their positions as the top two girls teams in Utah.
Ah, yes, Nevada!!
I'm not sure exactly what the Green Valley girls have been doing before this weekend, but they certainly showed well at the Woodbridge Invitational in sunny California. Green Valley managed a third in the "blue division" race at Woodbridge, and the fact that Trabuco Hills won that division races suggests pretty strongly that it wasn't populated with pushovers. Of course, "Division I" (the subtitle for the blue division) usually connotes the same thing. Alyssa Rapovy was the top Green Valley finisher for three miles at 18:42, and their fifth finished in 19:56. That's impressive, folks. I hope we see Green Valley at NXN-SW.
Woodbridge Invitational (look under Varsity - Girls results)
I'm not sure why this is the fashion in (southern) Nevada, but there seems to be a predilection there for splitting meets up JR/SR and FR/SO. I'm kind of partial to varsity and junior varsity myself. Anyhow, the Falcon Invitational was split up by grade levels and, as best I can tell, Coronado and Foothill are head-and-shoulders above the rest of the schools at 2.5 miles. Nothing here compares, however, with the results posted by the Green Valley girls at Woodbridge.
If you like working jigsaw puzzles to ascertain team strength, here are the results: Falcon Invitational
Meanwhile, sort of, Galena and Reno were running in a league meet on Wednesday up north. Galena got the best of Reno in both boys and girls. It's hard to say exactly what a four-team meet tells you, though.
For the upcoming weekend, look for results from the following meets:
Colorado - Coronado Cougar Classic on Thursday, John Martin (Fort Collins) Invitational on Friday, and the Pueblo Central and Rock Canyon Invitationals on Saturday
New Mexico - Albuquerque Academy Invitational on Friday and Cibola Invitational on Saturday
Utah - Nebo Invitational on Friday and the Bob Firman Invitational (in Idaho) on Saturday
Arizona - Mountain View Invitational on Saturday and Lake Havasu Invitational on Saturday (should draw some Nevada teams)
Nevada - weekday league meets have teams tied up but look for some bigger programs to head to the Stanford Invitational (California) and Lake Havasu Invitational (Arizona) on Saturday. The biggest in-state meet would appear to be the Sunrise Invitational in Las Vegas on Saturday.
If I've missed anything, please let me know.