Buena Vista's Michael Morgan returns as the top returner in 2A in the 100, No. 2 returner in the 400, and No. 4 returner in the high jump.
League Teams: Buena Vista, Colorado Springs Christian, Florence, La Junta, Lamar, Manitou Springs, Salida, St. Mary's, Trinidad, Vanguard (note that James Irwin is part of the league but did not have a track team last year)
Last Year's League Results: Lamar coasted away with a 39.5-point victory last year, tallying 142 points. Salida was second with 102.5 points, while Manitou Springs tallied 94 points. Vanguard was just four-points shy of a top-three team finish, and the scores dropped off dramatically after these four schools. But, like the girls side of the league, state results revealed a little more: last year Manitou Springs led the league at state with an eighth-place finish. Colorado Springs Christian was the next league team in 21st, while Salida was 28th, and Lamar was 30th. Additionally, Buena Vista finished 11th in 2A.
Key Losses to Graduation:
Colorado Springs Christian: Jacob Hoekert
Vanguard: Harley Morgan
Salida: Evan Coit, Seth Minor
Florence: Brandon Turner
Manitou Springs: Bryce Coop, Jared Keul
Lamar looks to be the early favorite here. Not only do they return two key athletes in Dylan Vallejos and Blake Davis, but they've got the team to rack up points in the field and distance events. Manitou Springs has taken a hit with the graduation of Bryce Coop and Jared Keul, but they still have multi-event athlete Jayden Omi, who they'll rely on big time this spring. On paper Salida and Vanguard appear strong enough to mix it up within the top-three.
The sprints could see an exciting matchup between Omi and 2A standout Michael Morgan. Omi's got the edge here, as he's the No.2 returner in the state in the 200, and No. 3 in the 100 -- in 3A, while Morgan is the top returner in 2A in the 100, No. 2 returner in the 400, and No. 4 returner in the high jump. I'd anticipate a good show anytime these two step on the track together.
Highlighting the field events will be Vallejos, who is the No. 6 returner in the long jump, Morgan in the high jump and Vincent Ramirez in the shot put. All three competed at state last year, and look to dominate the league in their events.
The distance events could be just as exciting as the sprint events, if Blake Davis and Alec Tanaka run the same event. Last year the two didn't, but did go head-to-heat at the state meet with Tanak taking the upper-hand in the mile, though Davis did race in the 1,600 and 3,200 -- he's the No. 4 returner in the 3,200. If the team race appears close, running Davis is multiple events could be what hands Lamar the league title, however.