The Broomfield girls cross country team has won the past two Class 5A state championships and returned nearly the entirety of its title-winning line to start the 2016 season.
After a slow start in 2017, the Eagles appear to be hitting their stride at the right point in the season and, along with Mountain Vista, are the favorites to win the team title at state yet again. On Monday, I caught up with head coach Greg Weich to find out how the Eagles are feeling with the state meet just a few days away.
Question: The Broomfield girls are ranked 10th nationally by the MileSplit Flo50 rankings and have won the past two state championships. How has going for a third straight title, which is something few teams accomplish, impacted this season?
Weich: We did things a little bit differently this year because last year when we started the season, we weren’t 100-percent sure we would be one of the best teams in the country. We came in thinking it was all about the state meet, and we kind of put all of our eggs in that basket. We were kind of a wildcard last year, too, because we were only like third at regionals. We went on to place seventh at the national meet last year.
This year, we wanted our first really, really good meet to be about a week or so before the state meet. So we started slow, but it was kind of by design. You can only run so many really, really great races in a 16-week period and we wanted to make sure those came when it matters most. The girls have been great because it’s tough when you lose a few meets early on, but they see the big picture.
The Mountain Vista team was right on your girls’ heals last season and is actually ranked above you (fifth) in the latest Flo 50 rankings. How do you expect this year’s state race to break down between your two teams and what is it going to take to edge them out again?
I think it’ll be one of the best races ever in Colorado, as far as the team race. We actually have complementary strengths. Both teams are really good up front, and I think we’ll each have three really good runners vying for the top five spots. They’re also known for their depth, but I think that’s an area where we’ve caught up. We have a lot of seniors, but we also have a sophomore girl Sydney Swanker who has been a solid two-miler but is now running around 18:18 this fall and her rise has been a huge bonus for us this season.
The key for us will be not giving up too much ground up front and letting our depth take over. To be honest, I’m not really sure how it will play out. But at the end of the day, I think it will come down to a lot of head-to-head battles and who comes out on top.
The Boulder County area is always a hotbed for cross country but the depth of talent in the area this year is on a whole different level. Thoughts on why that is and what it has been like to race in the area throughout this season?
Number one, it’s coaching. All of the coaches in the area are culture coaches They don’t just show up and give workouts, they’re involved in the culture of the sport and teaching it to younger athletes. There’s also a culture of running throughout the area. Olympic medalists come to our area to train, lots of people are runners, and it’s just a prevailing theme in the area and our high school programs are just building on that tradition.
It’s also awesome not to have to travel to see great competition. I think the farthest we’ve traveled this year for a meet was like 14 or 15 miles. But not just that, knowing that we’re going to see top-level competition every time we go run a race is a big reason why were so good, and probably a big reason a lot of the other teams in our area are good too.
Your girls team typically dominates the headlines, but you’ve got a pair of state qualifiers on the boys side in Joseph Carwin and Michael Mooney. What have you seen out of those two guys this season?
Well, Carwin has been a full four-year athlete and it’s been fun watching his development. He’s put everything into our program all four years and he’s really matured, especially over the past few years. We expect really good things out of him this year.
Mooney is a transfer student and he’s been a multi-sport athlete all of his life. He’s running cross country and he’s also playing soccer here at Broomfield for coach (Jim) Davidson and to do two sports at the same time in high school is just so difficult, especially for programs that have such high expectations annually. He’s probably running more on talent than anything and I still think he’s going to be in the hunt for the state championship.
They’ve had two different roads and it’s been great to have them both as leaders in our program.
It’s easy enough to look up the times your Eagles run throughout the season. But what else, something that isn’t obvious to the casual observer, has been a prevailing theme throughout this season?
The one thing that people don’t really know unless they follow it, is that we didn’t look like a championship team a month ago. It’s been one heck of a turnaround and I’m really proud of the work our runners have put in. Of course, some of it is by design, but a lot of it is about the maturity and psyche of our athletes to show up, train hard and trust the system. It’s a real testament to the girls for them just to get themselves back into contention again this year.
This is probably going to be one of the top graduating classes in the history of Colorado, in terms of how many of our girls are going to go Division I or to highly-competitive Division-II programs. I would encourage anyone, even if you’re not a fan or don’t think cross country is an exciting sport to watch, to come down to the state meet this Saturday because they’ll get to see a really special group.