COLORADO SPRINGS — The Silver Creek boys cross country team recognized the potential they have for coming years early on this fall. But the junior-heavy crew of Raptors at the same time had that 'why wait?' kind of attitude the last half of the 2016 season.
A dominating performance at their Class 4A regional put them on the map as a dark horse when it came to a team title at Saturday's 4A state meet. And while the arguable favorite, Palmer Ridge, walked the walk to blow away the field in the day's first race, the Raptors still impressed with a fourth-place finish as a team thanks to three runners finishing within the top 31 overall.
Citing a little nervousness with all the unexpected hype before the meet, the Raptors couldn't help but think they were better than what they showed. However, Silver Creek moved up 15 spots as team from 2015 — proving they had a special season collectively.
"To move up that much is a good feeling,"said James Lee, who finished 11th individually with a time of 16 minutes, 31.7 seconds. "I mean, none of us really had a great race today, and we just might not have been as prepared as we needed to be, but we got this next year. It was our first real big race together as a team, and we just need to prepare ourselves better."
"It was really not as were expecting, honestly. We're a little disappointed with fourth, but we'll take it for how young we are," added Brock Dykema, who placed 19th. "I think we definitely already have our sights set on next year, because we'll all be coming back and we'll be ready for a great season."
The Raptors have one senior on the team, but the five runners that scored Saturday were all juniors. In addition to Lee and Dykema, Logan Simington placed 31st (17:10.3), Eliott Cassidy was 43rd and Zack Beckwith was 58th.
Palmer Ridge had five of the top 17 placers to finish with a eye-popping 54 points; Widefield was second with 110; and Air Academy — paced by individual champ Ethan Powell — was third overall with 122.
"It was our first morning race of the year, so that might have been a factor, and it's just a tough course but at the same time it wasn't anything new for us," Dykema said. "It's really hard to say what happened."
Creek's upward swing was certainly the biggest for BoCo area teams, but Centaurus had another solid state performance as the Warriors followed up last year's 10th place team finish with an eighth place overall. Another young team with two sophomores and two juniors scoring, the Warriors were paced by John O'Malley's 12th place finish.
Niwot finished 14th headed by junior Kenny Lang (26th, 16:57.3), while Mead placed 16th after qualifying for the first time as a team.