Jumper Annalese Edwards is but one of a long list of talented returnees for Palmer Ridge.
League Teams: Air Academy, Cheyenne Mountain, Discovery Canyon, Falcon, Lewis-Palmer, Palmer Ridge, Sand Creek, Vista Ridge
Last Year's League Results: In a preview of what would transpire at State, Air Academy took last year's league meet in convincing fashion--or at least as convincing as you could expect in a league with as strong of a track and field presence as this one. In order, Palmer Ridge, Vista Ridge, and Discovery Canyon rounded out the top half of the league meet standings. Air Academy, of course, pulled the big coup at State, taking home the top 4A Girls trophy. The rest of the league did well at State, too. Cheyenne Mountain took fifth, while Vista Ridge and Discovery Canyon tied for sixth. Palmer Ridge ended up in a tie for 24th.
Key Athletes Lost To Graduation:
Air Academy: Maria Mettler, Allyson Stanley, Katelin Gallegos, Kamerin Valdes
Cheyenne Mountain: Michaela Moore, Mary McCowen, Ashlynn Smith
Discovery Canyon: Nyalah Johnson, Jenny Hall, Alexandra Palmer
Falcon: Kaitlin Malone
Palmer Ridge: Abby O'Hara, Sam Rippley, Sophia Lovato, Regan Mukpik
Sand Creek: Dejah Glover, Jenna McAllister
Vista Ridge: Jewel Inlow, Ashley Polk, Alexis Dubiel
Key Returning Athletes
Air Academy: Olivia Whitaker, Tatum Miller, Paige Embaugh, Anna Willson, Briaunna Miles
Cheyenne Mountain: Cassie Lynn Bonner, Ashlyn Ventimiglia, Anna Warmack, Jensen Enterman, Emily Chaston, Taegan Steinfort
Discovery Canyon: Lauren Gale, Liberty Ricca, Abigail Braun, Emma Baron, Bronwen Bowen
Falcon: Shoncire Graham, Caitlin Erhard, Hannah Perry
Lewis-Palmer: Lindsey Purdham, Elizabeth Beagle, Hannah Rollins, Reyna Kinser, Brooke Rodenberg, Emily Coe
Palmer Ridge: Nicole Phaneuf, Caroline Giusti, Ave Lewis, Madeleine Bonneau, Annalese Edwards, Julia Howe, Anna Busath, Grace Gulig, Isabel Tellez
Sand Creek: Veronica Harris
Vista Ridge: Brianne Watkins, Kaylin King, Meghan Tualamalii, Nicole Barnes, Karla Delgadillo, Cynthia Steverson
Last year, Palmer Ridge was a great invitational meet team, but still a developing state meet team. They had depth and breadth that could score all day long in invitationals, but lacked the knockout punch at the top of any given event. Isabelle Prosceno should go a long way toward changing the latter. The Bears lost some key girls by graduation, but it's a reasonable projection they're better this year--and especially as a state meet team--than they were last year.
For the other teams in the top half of the league, the losses to graduation are more substantial. Each of Air Academy, Discovery Canyon, and Vista Ridge will have some major holes to fill. But, these are good programs, so it's reasonable to expect that holes will get filled and what holes that don't get filled might get made up for in additional strength in other events (think, for example, of Discovery Canyon's cross country success this fall and how that might play out in the distance events this spring).
Cheyenne Mountain lost some important state meet kind of points, but the Indians bring a lot back as well. Lewis-Palmer lost almost nothing by graduation and sits on the cusp of moving into the top half of the league (though this is a very tough league for making that move).
Palmer Ridge should be your league favorite going into the season. We'll watch and see if they can make their league standing hold up at State as well. Discovery Canyon probably checks in as a favorite for second at the league meet. A healthy Lauren Gale should go a long way toward that. With some filling in in the field events, the Thunder could even conceivably challenge for the league title. The Thunder is indeed that close.