League Teams: Arvada West, Bear Creek, Chatfield, Columbine, Dakota Ridge, Lakewood, Pomona, Ralston Valley
Last Year's League Results: Lakewood took league honors going away last year. It was a balanced effort for the Tigers, with points coming from a lot of different directions and perhaps not as many individual titles as you may have expected from a team winning a conference title. Lakewood also doubled as the Jeffco 5A's top team at State, but with only 11 points. So, there's some climbing in the overall order of things 5A that the Jeffco programs will be looking to accomplish this spring.
Key Losses By Graduation:
Arvada West: none
Bear Creek: none
Chatfield: Abigail Oglesby, Jordan Juran
Columbine: Dasha Nicholl
Dakota Ridge: Celina Wilkerson
Lakewood: Cheyenne Padilla, Christine Leas-Burnley
Pomona: Semaye Johnson
Ralston Valley: none
Key Returning Athletes:
Arvada West: Claire Pauley, Amber Valdez, Olivia Poland, Katie Doucette
Bear Creek: Miranda Manfre, Josephine Coffey, Haley Abeyta
Chatfield: Nicole Lewis, Joyce Bohn, Sydney Williams, Julia Eiken, Heather Walker
Columbine: Mackenzie Mesec, Taylor Cruz, Ali Neuenschwander
Dakota Ridge: Maya Nefs, Michelle Renner, Kallie Hayes
Lakewood: Katherine Sena, Carly Zimmerman, Carley Bennett, Jessica Woodhead, Sarina Kopf
Pomona: Livia Zarlengo, Allya Marx
Ralston Valley: Maya Provencal, Hannah Mae Gigstad, Elizabeth Schweiker, Tashi Eberle, Peyton Conrad, Sienna Vessa
There's always a tendency to go with last year's champion as the default choice to win again this year. In that case, you'd take Lakewood. And, Lakewood has some very good pieces of last year's team coming back. But...
Ralston Valley has the most coming back of anyone in this league. Maya Provencal is a game changer as a sprinter. Hannah Mae Gigstad and Elizabeth Schweiker give the Mustangs a very strong distance presence. Hurdles and field events fill in with the likes of Tashi Eberle, Peyton Conrad, and Siena Vessa. Ralston Valley doesn't have this league locked down yet, not by any stretch of the imagination, but they do appear to be the team to beat.
Like we said a couple paragraphs back, Lakewood is worthy of serious consideration here. Katherine Sena and Carly Zimmerman ensure that the Tigers won't be found wanting in the explosive events. Carley Bennett is right up there with the league's top distance talent. Sarina Kopf is an established pole vault talent. Jessica Woodhead adds some middle distance pop.
Arvada West tilts strongly toward distance. With Lakewood, Dakota Ridge, and Ralston Valley all having some answers in the distance events, though, the damage Arvada West can do here is a bit limited. Certainly, A West will put up some league meet points, but they must diversify some if they are to challenge for a league crown.
Dakota Ridge has two big-time contributors in Michelle Renner and Maya Nefs. Contributions, and significant ones at that, will need to come for a more diverse set of directions for DR to contend for a title.
Chatfield doesn't have the established star power that Dakota Ridge does, but they do have point-scoring potential across a wider range of events. If talent like Nicole Lewis and Joyce Bohn continues to develop, Chatfied could find themselves nipping at the heels of league leaders Ralston Valley and Lakewood.
Bear Creek, Columbine, and Pomona find themselves in similar positions of trying to work their ways up the scoring ladder. Haley Abeyta of Bear Creek is likely the league's top threat to score at State in the throws, but all three teams need more help to come along.