GREELEY – The miles that quietly rest between most of Colorado’s Class 1A schools are long but rarely lonely. For that matter, the space between just about every 1A school in this year’s state quarterfinals and the University of Northern Colorado where they’re held, is just as vast. But again, there’s nothing lonesome about the electric atmosphere found inside the Bank of Colorado Arena.

If you want to see schools whose parents, students and – well, just about everybody from that town and its surrounding areas – travel, 1A is where it’s at. Making it to state isn’t just a team reward, or a school activity; it’s a community trip.

Win or lose, the sight of the 1A state tournament is always a celebration.

Thursday’s full slate of action – four games for the boys and four from the girls, totaling 13 schools – went mostly according to plan – at least according to the tournament seeding (there were not upsets in the Great 8 on either the boys or girls side).

Advancing to Friday’s boys semifinals are Bellview Christian, Stratton, Denver Jewish Day and McClave. Headed home (or in immediate terms, the consolation bracket) are: Cheyenne Wells, Otis, Genoa-Hugo and Granada.

Advancing to Friday’s girls semifinals are: McClave, Dove Creek, Flatirons Academy and Briggsdale. Headed home are Granada, Stratton, Kit Carson and Fleming.

(Doug Ottewill/

In any sport or classification, losing at state always stings the most. But in 1A, there are typically a few more miles to think about the season’s last loss. Yes, there are consolation brackets in both 1A and 2A basketball in Colorado, but still, anything less than a state title provides plenty to ponder on the way home, even if that’s on Saturday night once all the dust has settled.

To point: The combined total miles of the schools eliminated from Thursday’s quarterfinal round adds up to 1,480. That averages roughly 185 miles between each team and Greeley. Eventually 14 of the 16 teams that earned their spot will go home after a loss, so in theory, only two teams will depart Greeley as “winners with a “short” – anywhere from 60 to 500 miles – trip home.

While big schools may have varying opinions with regard to the most appropriate venue for their state tournament, there’s no such thing as a universally perfect place for small-school championships. “Going the distance” is a phrase that can be used both literally and figuratively for 1A’s student-athletes and parents. In general, they’re just used to it. Whether it’s taking a trip “into town” or playing one’s rival in the “next town over” (or when measured, another 50 miles along the interstate), it’s a normal and expected part of life in the outer-lying parts of Colorado. “Getting to” travel as much as 484 miles – just as the Dove Creek Bulldogs girls team did this week – is a welcomed reward.

In other words, at the small school level, everyone is more than happy to make the road trip.

Win or lose at state, the miles are always worth it.