Carl Heide is one of several important reasons that Bayfield figures as the top team in the Intermountain League this spring.
Note: With this article, I'm shifting a little the approach to league previews. The content of the depth analyses I had been doing simply wasn't engaging enough.
So, we move to a different format. It might take me a few tries to get the format all smoothed out, but here we go, starting with the Intermountain League boys.
League Teams: Alamosa, Bayfield, Centauri, Monte Vista, Montezuma-Cortez, Pagosa Springs
Last Year's League Results: I don't find a separate Intermountain League meet from last year. If they had a league meet, evidently it got embedded into some other larger invitational. We can, however, report on how the league teams fared at State. Bayfield was ninth at (3A) State with 31 points, Montezuma-Cortez was 14th with 18 points, Alamosa was 17th with 16 points, Pagosa Springs was 30th with 8 points, and Centauri finished 38th with three points. Monte Vista finished eighth in 2A with 28 points.
Key Losses By Graduation:
Alamosa: Caleb Berlinger, Caleb Palmer, Oscar Martinez, Isaiah DeLaCerda, Sam Willett, Miguel Baltazar
Bayfield: Brian Mashak, Gus Roberts, Sam Westbrook
Centauri: Michael Sowards, Dustyn Sowards
Monte Vista: Jose Flores-Lauro, Noel Heredia, Moises Juarez
Montezuma-Cortez: Austin Wagner, Skylar Yarbrough, Josh Ramos, Blair Rice
Pagosa Springs: Jacob Hughes, Ethan Brown
Key Returning Athletes:
Alamosa: Elijah DeLaCerda, Chad Jackson, Richard Sais, Brayan Flores, Luke Smith
Bayfield: Carl Heide, Dax Snooks, Colton Fine, Dawson Heide, Sloan Mazur, Dylan Hilliker, Ryan Phelps, Wyatt Killinen, David Hawkins, Hunter Killough
Centauri: Jayden Gomez, Derek Van Berkum, George Galviz-Ortiz
Monte Vista: Cedric Perea, Kaidon Wenta
Montezuma-Cortez: Sonny Boren, Trey Yarbrough, Cael McHenry
Pagosa Springs: Cade Cowan, Michael Wedemeyer
You'd be stark, raving mad not to have Bayfield picked as your preseason favorite here. The Wolverines figure to dominate the league throws and make a serious stand at State as well. Carl Heide and Sloan Mazur should be big point producers within the league who should go on to score nicely at State. Pole vault is a long-standing area of strength for Bayfield as well. There is a chink or two in Bayfield's armor, but they come very close to being a complete team and could even figure as a state title contender this spring.
Alamosa figures, at least for now, as the second-best team. Yet, Alamosa needs to regroup after losing almost the entirety of their point production from State last year. Alamosa did well in cross country this fall, indicating the distance program has been rebuilding nicely, but the Mean Moose need to put together something they had a lot of in the past--the ability to score at State across a wide range of events. Chad Jackson is a good first step in that direction, but they will need more.
Montezuma-Cortez took some serious hits to graduation that drastically thin out the depth on this team. Guys who were in lesser roles will have to step up this spring. That's Sonny Boren, Trey Yarbrough, and Cael McHenry. Possibly others will come along as well. The program has a nice bit of tradition working in their favor. That, too, should help.
Pagosa Springs: For now, it looks like jumps will be the go-to event area for Pagosa Springs. Both Cade Cowan and Michael Wedemeyer have state-scoring kind of potential. What Pagosa lacks--and it's something this team used to have in bundles--is the proven ability to score across a wide variety of events. If Pagosa refinds that kind of scoring presence, they will climb in this league.
Centauri: The Falcons struggled some last year. Although losses to graduation weren't as stiff as at other league member schools, Centauri still needs to find more ways to put points on the board. Centauri's 4x400 put up all three of the school's points at State last spring and half of that relay team graduated.
Monte Vista: For the last couple of years, Monte Vista has been very competitive within the 2A ranks. They went to larger meets during the season and consistently scored well. The bad news is that the scoring franchise has graduated. For the Pirates, it looks like a year of rebuilding, almost from the ground up. This should be a pivotal year for Monte Vista track and field fortunes.