Dakota Leazer, a state hurdle champion two years ago as a sophomore, is central to Fountain-Fort Carson's title hopes. Photo by Alan Versaw.
Ladies and gentlemen, this could be good.
There would appear to be four horses in this race. The Trojan horse, of course, comes from Fountain-Fort Carson High School. F-FC knows all about winning state championships, though it's a mostly revamped roster since the last time these guys came out on top.
From the Cherry Creek School District, Cherry Creek and Cherokee Trail will be making their bids for the big trophy. And, from up north, Fort Collins will attempt to defend the state title they won last year.
For Fountain-Fort Carson, it's all about relays, sprints, hurdles, and jumps. If they score any points outside of these event areas, that's just icing on the cake. Their relays are so good, it's conceivable that, if allowed, their B relays would be adding to their point total at state. But, since they can't do that, coach Ben Montoya has the luxury of not wearing out his top guys with maximizing their relay duty.
Tevin Donnell, Solyde Bankston, Jai'Shawn Thompson, and Drue Harris are the big sprint guys. Dakota Leazer and Zachary Joseph hold down the hurdles. Zachary Joseph and Duane McClurklin have the jumps credentials. Just about everyone runs relays at one point or another. F-FC figures as the favorites, but not by much.
Cherry Creek might have figured as favorites, but the absence of distance star Alec Brudzinski impacts a lot of things. Make no mistake, Creek still has a few arrows left in the quiver, but the pressure for each of them to produce is now a little elevated. Middle distance is manned by Daniel Book and Shane Rhodes. Rhys Osborne figures into the horizontal jump calculations. Stanford Cooper shows up as a potential point scorer in the discus rankings. Will we see Travlor Skudneski re-emerging as a potential state scorer this week?
Cherokee Trail is not to be overlooked. The sprint and relay group that includes Brandon Singleton, MarKeith Bailey, and Jaylyn Mars must carry the bulk of the load for the Cougars. The relays must shine--that is an imperative. CT will also look to the jumps and vaults for some points from Cameron Smith, David Thornton, Devin Arnold, and Harley Korte. The key for the Cougars may lie in whether or not the jumps/vaults group can rise above their seed marks.
Fort Collins is another team that needs to exceed their seed marks going into state. Caleb Seeton and Ryan Rogers are an outstanding pair of hurdlers who need to have a good state meet. By all rights, Jacob Hanks figures to win the shot put. But, things get a little less clear beyond that point. A monster 4x800 would be huge for the Lambkins. Jumpers Chase Thurgood and Langston Stuckey need to produce. Odds look a little long for Fort Collins at this point, but this is not a team to be underestimated.
Events not to be missed:
400 meters - With five guys (Tanner Townsend, Jordan Medina, Brandon Singleton, Jaylyn Mars, and Zane Vanderberg) all coming in under 49 seconds, this one promises to take everything these guys can give on Saturday morning.
800 meters - Daniel Book may be the only one who can stop Gateway's Devundrick Walker from taking this thing.
3200 meters - Tucker Hamilton and Clayson Shumway have met a lot of times this school year. This will be the last big showndown between the two. Throw in Poudre's Grant Fischer for good measure and you should have a nice race. Oh, and there are a few other guys close enough to take this thing over if the favorites aren't completely on their race.
4x200 - This is my personal pick as the best showdown between the Fountain-Fort Carson and Cherokee Trail relays. Both teams need this one.
Discus - Austin Waterman and Zach Golditch are way ahead of the field but very close to each other. This one could easily come down to the final throws.
Triple Jump - By all rights, this one comes down to a Douglas County School District showdown between Connor Turnage and Cameron Gill. Who do you have, Highlands Ranch or Rock Canyon?