MONUMENT • Palmer Ridge cross country coach Rob Collins informed his boys team he submitted a roster of 10 for this weekend’s Class 4A state meet at Norris Penrose Event Center before a workout Monday in the school’s commons.
Only six will run at Saturday’s finale but the Bears’ depth - and a cold that has bounced around the team - has left few names written in ink on the provisional roster.
One exception is senior Ryan Matson, who won Thursday’s 4A Region 2 race, to earn Peak Performer of the Week. He’s become the Bears’ top runner on a consistent basis this season.
“We need everybody (else) to run as a No. 2 guy, basically,” Collins said. “That’s what we’re looking for.”
Matson finished the regional race, at Monument Valley Park, in 15 minutes, 54 seconds, a personal best. He ran with the top pack early before making his move around the two-mile marker. He went on to win by more than 20 seconds.
“It was a goal, but it was sort of unexpected,” Matson said. “I knew I had competition. I guess during the race it became more and more of a reality.”
Improving on that time will be tough on a more challenging course, but that’s not Matson’s primary concern.
“It’s a run for place, not time,” Matson said.
His coach said a top-five finish is likely with a individual championship possible with a smart, tactical race.
“He’s mostly about the team and everything else,” Collins said.
“Anything else, what he does as an individual, is a bonus to him.”
Behind Matson, the Bears are projected to be in the hunt for a team title.
“I think it’s realistic,” the senior said. “It’s not going to be super easy, but if everyone put it in their head that they’re going to a win a state championship, I think we can do it.”
Matson was Palmer Ridge’s No. 3 runner when the Bears won a state title a year ago, finishing behind a pair of former teammates who are now part of Division I programs.
Matson will likely follow, as he’s hearing from a couple of Pac 12 schools, according to Collins.
The 8K distance run at the collegiate level shouldn’t be an issue.
“He’ll actually do fine at the longer distances,” Collins said. “He’s actually a pretty good longer distance runner.”
He’s still got one more high school cross country race, and he knows how he wants to finish.
“As an individual, top three,” Matson said. “As a team, we’re all trying to go to win it.”3
Other Peak Performers
Jordan Valentine, Liberty
The senior led the Lancers in kills in all three of last week’s matches and helped Liberty picked up a pair of wins. She put down eight balls in a three-set loss to Rampart to start the week before posting nine kills in a sweep over Fountain-Fort Carson. She saved her best Saturday’s showdown with Pueblo West where she posted 15 kills and added 11 total blocks in a five-set win over Pueblo West, which lost for just the second time this season.
Jack McReynolds, Rampart
McReynolds, a senior midfielder, scored four goals and added an assist in two games last week. He started with a goal in a 4-3 win over Liberty and capped the regular season with a three-goal, three-assist game against Coronado on Thursday, giving him 20 goals and 20 assists on the season.
Bria Johnson, The Vanguard School
The sophomore won the 2A Region 2 meet in 21 minutes, 55.75 seconds to help the Coursers take the team title as well.
As a freshman, Johnson placed 19th at the state meet, good for an all-state honorable mention honor.
Landen Martinez, Falcon
Martinez ran wild in the Falcons’ dominant win over Woodlank Park, posting 144 yards on 15 carries. The senior started the night with a pair of successful two-point-conversion runs before a two long touchdown runs padded the lead.