Cheyenne Central WY defeats NTN Ranked teams and states to the NTN Committee, "WE WANT IN!"
Dakota Ridge CO puts in Cinderella performance to defeat NTN Selectee Nat #16, NW#2 Billings Senior MT
by Rockymountaintrack editor Chris Whittington with comments by Race Director Aron Taylor on RockyMountainTrack.com
Nationally Ranked #25 and SW#3 Cheyenne Central WY runs wild at inaugural Region Championship over one of the deepest and most competitive field of teams in the country. With an unbelievable 44 second spread the men from Cheyenne dominated 36 top ranked teams featuring NTN Ranked and State Champions from five (5) states. Running in this race were several teams competing for a legitimate NTN at-large birth.
Among the top teams that could not match the continued team strength of Central were National Ranked #22 Dakota Ridge CO, Borah ID who narrowly lost to #13 Nationally ranked Trabuco Hills at the Firman Invitational. The most difficult challenge came from Bozeman MT; Bozeman, who many feel is on par with Central Valley WA has been running undefeated for the second half of the season could not down the mighty men from Cheyenne over the challenging 5000 meter region course.
Throughout the season Cheyenne Central has been running 30-40 second spreads from 1-5 and dominating at every meet. With the exception of a few weeks battling team injuries Cheyenne has been unchallenged throughout the season. "At Centerra we had two of our top five (5) out of competition. One struggling from an illness finished last for the team, and another did not run due to a leg injury" said Coach Bishop. That race Cheyenne could finish a disappointing 4th losing to eventual SW#2 Los Alamos. "We had a difficult few weeks getting over those injuries but when we have been healthy we can run with anyone. I think Albuquerque is tough but feel confident we could defeat Los Alamos when healthy like we were this weekend, I hope we get the opportunity to show the nation we are a legitimate NTN finalist team" This was definitely attested as Central defeated over 10 State Championship teams from five (5) states.
Commenting on the design for the Region course Coach Bishop stated "I have been a state champion, a NCAA and National runner and been on courses all over this country, I have never been on a course that required you to really think about how to run a race to judge when to be anaeroic, and when to be aerobic; this course was one of the best I have ever seen" This statement closely resembles Race Director Aron Taylor's pre-race claim that the course would be in NCAA style format that would require a winning team to guage between strength and speed. Team after team, coach after coach, all proclaimed the same comments that the course was one of the best they had seen. "I am pleased teams enjoyed the course" stated Aron Taylor, "We really tried to offer them something that would be challenging, fair, and fun while at the same time making them think of how to run."
"For many of these teams they have been battling all year for an NTN slot and at-large birth, this race featured many of those teams. I think it is fitting that teams from these states who live so far from other teams in the country have an opportunity to face eachother in one race when they should all be at their best" commented Aron Taylor when asked the purpose behind the Region meet. He added "This race isn't about me, it isn't about anyone other than these kids who have fought all year to be recognized equally with teams throughout the country. All they want to be is the best, many of the teams come from depressed and isolated communities, the only way we could think of providing them with a fair and equal playing ground was to unite them in a single cause. This just happened to be that cause and I feel teams from these states have made a proclaimation to the rest of the nation that we have always been a part of the National Championship picture and these are our #1 teams."
Speaking of #1 teams the Colorado based Dakota Ridge XC girls team travelled over 15 hours to Pocatello and defeated Nike Team Nationals selected NW#2 Billings Senior in dominating fashion by 21 points. What was more impressive was the order of finish closely resembled what could be expected as the top teams all finished at the top in consecutive order with the exception of Dakota Ridge. "The Dakota Ridge girls team believed that they could win, I spoke with Dakota Ridge Coach Mike Callor about his team and he claimed at state they had a less than perfect race and realized that they could have won the State meet. They believed they could have defeated Cherry Creek and wanted some form of redemption. They travelled to Pocatello primarily because they believe in the cause of what we are trying to do and thought they could win." stated Taylor.
It was evident from the finishing score that Dakota Ridge hadn't just pulled an upset, we had witnessed a tremendous showing of will power and determination, a true miracle story. "To think a team can come in and on the biggest scene of their season. To defeat the teams they defeated is simply unbelievable. I have never witnessed so much emotion, happiness, and team unity before and after a race. It was remarkable! These girls want so badly to travel to Portland, you could see it in their eyes at the hotel, on the line, and they truly showed it in the largest race of many of their lives."
The Dakota Ridge girls picked apart Billings Senior, argued as the greatest team in Montana State history. Senior had previously placed 5 runners under 19 minutes on their state course. Billings Coach Gardiner stated "Our girls gave all they had, this is a tremendous course. We came to Pocatello because we will not avoid anyone, our girls all said on the way home we needed to go to this race; Dakota Ridge ran a great race." Now that Billings Senior has secured an NTN Birth it can be argued that Dakota Ridge deserves an NTN At-large selection. "Look at who they (Dakota Ridge) beat, they defeated National #16 Billings Senior by 20 points, noone has done that to them all season long! they defeated undefeated Park City (UT), and a Boise (ID) squad who Dave Mills claims is better than his 2005 team who went to NTN, they also defeated the only other team to defeat Billings Senior this year Campell County WY, and over 10 State Champions, so you tell me, did they stake a claim for an NTN birth, what other team this year has defeated this much competition in one race?" stated Race Director Aron Taylor on Dakota Ridges suprising victory, he further expounded "I am not on the Committee, and I don't know how they will make their selections but to not consider this performance, to not reward this Cinderella performance and first ever Regional Championship victor with at least an at-large birth would show an extreme flaw in the system and be a travesty."
New to the team all in all the race was nothing less than spectacular, well organized, and well run. There were few glitches and bumps, for a first time event this was very very impressive. Hopefully the NTN Selection Committee will take note. Great job to the Rockymountaintrack.com staff for providing this opportunity for athletes in the five state Rocky Mountain Region XC Championships a Northwest and Southwest production.