• Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer

    From left: Brock Dykema (819), Logan Simington and James Lee of Silver Creek take off at the start of the 2016 state cross country meet.

  • Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer

    Silver Creek's James Lee runs to a second place finish at a 4A regional last season.



If you go

What: St. Vrain New Balance Cross Country Invitational

When: Saturday, Sept. 9

Where: Lyons High School

More info: Activities start with the National Anthem at 8:15 a.m. and conclude with the high school varsity awards at 11:30 a.m. More than 50 schools are registered for the event, including local schools Boulder, Dawson, Erie, Jefferson Academy, Longmont. Lyons, Mead, Monarch, Nederland, Peak to Peak, Prospect Ridge, Shining Mountain, Silver Creek and Twin Peaks.

LONGMONT — To quote “Zen and the Art of Running:” Running is an art form, in and of itself. To witness the supreme athletes in the sport of running is to basically watch the gazelle-like movement of a perfect locomotive dancing in their shoes. It’s captivating to see someone run with awesome form. They have rhythm, timing, grace, agility, and incredible posture.

To a man, every member of the 2017 Silver Creek boys team — which has yet to run at full strength and will not do so at this weekend’s St. Vrain New Balance Invite at Lyons, either — fits this mold and the more they develop into a smooth running pack the more the already high expectations for the nationally ranked Raptors will continue to increase.

“This year we have taken a different approach to it. The first few meets we have not made a high priority for them. I think they are all disappointed with how the season ended last year, and I think the momentum got going a little early last year and so we are trying to hold them back and it was hard that first week just to tell them you’re not racing,” Silver Creek coach Roger Powley said.

“They saw last year that people are writing things about you, but until you show up on the day and produce those results, then it is just what people are saying about you … and they saw that last year. We are trying to build from one meet to the next with everything built around the last few weeks from conference to the regional and then on to state.”

The senior-heavy roster — lead by the dynamic trio of James Lee, Brock Dykema and Logan Simington and also includes Zack Beckwith, Eliott Cassidy, junior John Maroney and sophomore Henry Terhaar — much like their first year coach in 2016, learned a lot from last year and the general approach to the season.

They have designed the 2017 schedule to maximize their October and even the national circuit in November. And they all realize it begin with the day-to-day grind of the daily workouts.

“Especially during workouts, when you have all the other guys pushing you along, especially when it is the three of us — when I am running with Logan and Brock — one of us is always feeling good and pulling the other guys along,” said Lee, who finished 13th at the Class 4A meet in Colorado Springs last season. “It makes training a whole lot easier and racing too.”

Lee, who says confidence is high across the board with the Raptors, and his teammates have put an emphasis on eliminating the individual aspect of the sport and really focusing on how working together make everyone better.

And while it seems difficult to grasp, especially in an individual sport, learning the intricacies of running together will have greater benefits when it matters most.

“It’s a lot like a car race, when you are running behind someone it’s a little bit easier and you can kind of get in a rhythm and cruise for a while,” said Lee, who admitted that when they got to state last year that they kind of made it about themselves and it lead to their fourth place finish. “Maybe you take the lead for a little bit and let your teammate relax, it just helps everyone go a little faster.”

Said Powley, whose team will really crank it up in a few weeks: “We are focusing on that whole team concept. We go into each workout believing that you are as good as each other. If you talk to the guys, they wouldn’t be able to tell you who’s No. 1 or No. 2 or No. 3 on any one day, it could be any one of them right now. We have to close that gap with our 4-5-6-7-8, we’ve got to move up and have the confidence to go train with these guys and race with these guys.”

The Raptors understand their potential and are well aware of not just their state ranking, but where they stand in the national scene — holding a No. 23 ranking in the Flo50 top 25 put out by MileSplitUSA.

“I just told them that is the potential. That’s what that tells you is that there is potential here to race at that level. If you look at the ranking and believe that you are No. 1, then you can get a little complacent,” said Powley, who believes his team can compete at the Nike Regionals in Arizona in November. “That’s just potential, how are we going to realize that come October.”

Jon Yunt: or