We've heard this tune before. Paonia comes into the state meet as a very large favorite. To be honest, they've been bigger favorites than they are this year, but they are still heavy favorites.
Telluride and Highland are realistically the only other teams in the hunt. Most likely, the second-place trophy comes down between these two teams, but under a perfect-meet scenario, either could challenge Paonia for the title.
Paonia relies very heavily on the services of Sophia Anderson and Brianna Van Vleet (above). While others chip in in a big way on relays, the relays are not as strong across the board as in years past, and the individual event presence is thinner than in years past. Consequently, Paonia is a bit more vulnerable than they have been.
Brooke Hillman, McKenna Palmer, and Emily Pieper are three who can help keep the chase pack at arm's length. Any points scored by other individuals also count as bonus insurance for the Eagles.
Highland's rise is largely due to the presence of freshman sprinter Remington Ross. If Ross figures on Highland's relay qualifications, the Huskies may have trouble matching their projected state meet output. Maison Tolle is the other big contributor for Highland. Like Paonia, Highland could use a few bonus points from scattered other individuals.
Telluride is traditionally a distance-based team. Nothing has changed about that this year as Soleil Gaylord and Maya Ordonez lead a formidable distance pack.
What has the Miners in a stronger position this year is an upgraded sprint department. Shannon Wyszinski and Natalia Kelley figure to be chipping in sprint points, plus giving the Miners a strong relay presence.
Will it be enough? Show up this weekend and find out!
One interesting story to be told this weekend in 2A Girls concerns the distance battles between Gaylord, Annie Hughes, Whitney White, and Chloe Veilleux. Hughes and Veilleux largely got the better of Gaylord in cross country season, but the tables seem to be turned in track season. Can Gaylord extend her mastery through the state meet?
Hayden freshman Hannah Wilkie is an intriguing story in the 800. She comes in with four seconds of edge in the seed marks, but seed marks mean nothing once the gun goes off. Stay tuned to see how this one plays out.
Holyoke freshman Taeryn Trumper is another new face to watch. Trumper may not win any events, but she will definitely be scoring. The long jump is probably her best event, but there she must face Brianna Van Vleet. It might well end up as second place this year for Trumper, but valuable experience will be earned. Remington Ross figures here as well.
Ellie Berry takes on Jeneen Ibrahim and Katie Hyke, last year's 2A Girls state champion, in the shot put. Expect that it takes more than 40 feet to win this one.
Sophia Anderson has the better of the triple jump rankings, but it would be premature to count Megan Godsey out before they start jumping. In a long list of things that could possibly get away from Paonia, this ranks as one of the bigger ones.