A Look Ahead At Western Slope 3A Boys

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Distance standout Colton Stice (middle) could make Gunnison a threat in the team race. Stice is the No. 1 returner in the state in the 800, and the No. 2 returner in the 1,600.

League Teams: Aspen, BasaltCoal Ridge, DeltaGrand Valley, Gunnison, Moffat County, Roaring Fork, Olathe

Last Year's League Results: Coal Ridge dominated their western slope challengers last year, claiming the team title with 142 points, despite only winning one event. Moffat took the runner-up spot in a hotly contested team race for second with 98 points, while Delta scored 93 points, Roaring Fork tallied 85 points, and Gunnison followed with 82 points. 

Key Losses by Graduation:
Aspen: Sunday Abarca
Gunnison: Josh Stephens

Key Returning Athletes:
Basalt: Noah Williams

The Outlook:
On paper the meet looks nearly identical to last year, except for one or two changes. Coal Ridge looks like the clear favorite. They bring depth to the table, which is something no other team has been able to counter. The team race for second will be something to keep your eye on. Based on returning athletes, it could be a toss up. Moffat, Delta, and Gunnison all return key athletes. 

The sprints look wide open with the graduation of Aspen's Abarca, who leaves some very large shoes to fill. The open lane should should pave the way for Basalt's Noah Williams. Likewise, the shot and discus will have new league-champions with the graduation of Hildebrandt. 

The distance events look nearly identical to last year with Gunnison's Stice returning. The junior appears primed for a big year on the state level -- he's the No. 1 returner in the 800, and the No. 2 returner in the 1,600. Last year he won the 1,600 and the 3,200 at league, but opted for the 800 at state. If he decides to gamble by tripling at league by running the 3,200, he could make Gunnison a real threat in the team competition. 

The challenge for any team with desires to slaying Coal Ridge will be in the field events. Coal Ridge oozes depth in the field. Additionally, having multi-event athletes, Conteras and Power, give them a clear advantage. Moffat will need Klimper, Silva, and Severson to be on top of their game to hold off Gunnison, who have a strong returning distance trio in Stice, Wilkinson, and O'Neill.