Dakota Ridge Invitational
The DRI takes place in Littleton, CO at the Denver Botanical Gardens. This event draws mostly Denver and Front Range Schools, but a few teams come out of the mountains to race through the Autumn-themed course. Middle Park boys and girls left a tough impression on league rivals faced in the invitational. Platte Canyon, Pinnacle and Clear Creek all were racing, giving the four Frontier League squads a chance to square off ten days before the league race in Sheridan.
The boys team was small. The smallest it has been in four years for any race. With several runners traveling, sick, or ineligible, the boys had to press on with five runners. An impressive push for a victory by Mark Simmons led him to second place in the field of over 180. Jake Kacik scored a season best time and place finish on the team.
The Lady Panthers were without two, which did not allow them to score. All the girls raced with guts, moving into great position in the first 400 meters, and opening with quality miles. Alyssa Petersen led the girls squad, pushing her league rivals. Raelee Granger made a huge effort in the final few hundred meters, looking strong to finish.
Salida is a cross country true to the definition. The coach, Kenny Wilcox, changed his course this year to a new location. The new site had some grass, pavement, dirt road and singletrack trail. Nothing to tough. Oh yeah, there was talk about a small hill in the course description.
It. Was. A. Hill.
Beyond the massive, 20%-plus grade hill, the course was fast, with fast runners. The Panther duo of Simmons and Scholl were at it again, taking 4th and 5th, which looked more like a tie from where I was observing. The trio of Knigh, Frick, and Kacik rounded out the scoring and all moved up the field after the big climb. The boys team placed seven of fourteen against some of the best schools that side of Denver.
The girls again were too small to score, but ran smart races. Petersen and Granger were up front for the Panthers, racing hard against future regional rivals from Lake County and Gunnison. Burg and Jesse Hoyhtya had arguably their best races of the year, looking strong on the big climb and coming through the last mile.
What a tough week. Our longest run of the season, two of our largest invitationals, and homecoming. Remember, as the training begins to taper down, the workouts may get easier, but the races will get tougher.
Next week: League at Sheridan.