Lakewood's Chase Dornbusch returns as one of the top distance runners in the state.
Last Year's League Results: Last year Pomona led a high-scoring affair, beating out Ralston Valley 168 - 154.5. Lakewood took the third spot with 121 points.
Key Losses By Graduation:
Pomona: Jeremy Gonzales, Miles Matulik, Brandon Micale
Lakewood: Brock Miller
Arvada West: Max Sevcik
Ralston Valley: Tyler Shannon
Key Returning Athletes:
With the graduation of several Pomona stars, this year's team race has opened up in favor of Ralston Valley. They're the only team with the tools to score across the board. The Mustangs aren't particularly front-heavy in any event, though they've got the depth required to claim a team title. Ralston Valley returns a slew of solid 300 hurdlers (last year they took five out of the top-nine spots in league final).
But, I wouldn't count out Bear Creek. The Bears are insanely strong in the hurdles and the field events. They'll need to rely on pure dominance here if they have any chance of inching up on Ralston Valley. If there's anything holding Bear Creek back, it's in the distance events, which is where Lakewood will hope to tally most of their points.
Lakewood has the athletes to keep Bear Creek within range. Like the Bears, they'll rely on the hurdles and the field events, though their ace in the hole is in the distance events, where Chase Dornbusch could be the difference maker.
The distance events belong to Dornbusch. He's the top returner in the league in the 1,600, and the 3,200. And if he runs the 800, he could help elevate Lakewood into contention for that No. 2 spot. He's the No. 3 returner in the state in the 3,200 and No. 6 in the 1,600. If he's got any competition in the 1,600 or the 3,200, it'll come from Dakota Ridge's Austin Vancil, who is the No. 6 returner in the state in the 3,200. The 800 may be more of a challenge, as last year's league champion Nick Nowlen returns as well.
Bear Creek's Tim Schwantes will highlight the field events, as he is the No. 3 returner in the state in the long jump. Columbine will look to sophomore high jump standout Robert Henderson-Johnson to reclaim the league title he won as a freshmen. With Tyler Shannon graduated, the remaining field events appear to be up for grabs this year.
The sprints appear open for the taking as well. Last year's champions in 100 through the 400 have moved on, leaving room for a new champion to be crowned. Columbine's Mateo Rodriguez looks to be the early favorite in the 100 and the 200. Unlike the sprints, the hurdles appear spoken for, as last year's champions, Bear Creek's Ryan Dalton and Pomona's Ryan Marquez, return to the starting line in the 300 hurdles and the 110 hurdles.