Dontavis Moore Ford will look to help Vista Ridge in the sprints this season.
League Teams: Air Academy, Cheyenne Mountain, Discovery Canyon, Falcon, Lewis-Palmer, Palmer Ridge, Sand Creek, Vista Ridge
Last Year's League Results: Three of the top-five teams in the state battled for the title, and on this day it was Palmer Ridge who the title by the slimmest of margins -- three-and-a-half points. The Bears tallied 181.5 points, just ahead of Vista Ridge, the eventual state champions. Air Academy was a distant third on this day, but like Vista Ridge, they came prepared in Lakewood, claiming the runner-up spot at state while Palmer Ridge was fifth.
Key Athletes Lost To Graduation:
Air Academy: Nik Chappee, Ethan Powell, Skylar Smoker
Lewis-Palmer: Alex Bailey
Vista Ridge: Kendrick Cannik, Anthony Bellott, Desmond Calhoun, Isaiah Lapioloi, Hunter Maldonado, Addison Settle
Palmer Ridge: Brandon Pappas, Jeremy Meadows, Andrew Lester
Key Returning Athletes
Air Academy: Cal Banta, Luke Thurman, Rylee Ollivierre
Lewis-Palmer: Cade Pauman, Dieudonne Chea
Palmer Ridge: Ryan Matson, Maxwell Herebic, Nathan Strickling, Maccee Reed, Stephen Vaughn
Vista Ridge: Kobe Christiansen, Raymon Harper, Tristan Pratt, Micah Hilts, Dontavis Moore Ford
Discovery Canyon: Joseph Dicke, Daniel Lisenbee, Seth Clawson, Ryan Blake, Samuel Brown
There's a huge void with the graduation of Air Academy's Nic Chappee, who won the 200 and 400 at state, and the Palmer Ridge trio of Brandon Pappas, Jeremy Meadows, and Andrew Lester. This opens the doors for newcomers to lead in everything from the sprints to the distance events. The field events, however, return a slew of talent.
Vista Ridge and Palmer Ridge took a hit, but both schools return enough to remain in the hunt for league title, and perhaps a state title. But I wouldn't count out Discovery Canyon -- this year's dark horse of the league.
In the sprints Lewis-Palmer's Dieudonne Chea looks to be the best bet in filling the shoes of Nic Chappee. The 400 may already be spoken for, however, as Kobe Christiansen returns and looks for another state berth. Lewis-Palmer's Cade Pauman looks primed to own the 110 hurdles -- he's the No. 4 returner in the state in the event.
With the Palmer Ridge trio now graduated, the distance events will be looking for someone to fill their very large shoes. This is where Air Academy's Cal Banta could make a name for himself. Banta is the No. 2 in the 1,600 and the No. 3 returner in the state in the 800. He'll likely have competition from Discovery Canyon's Joseph Dicke and Daniel Lisenbee. Dicke is the No. 4 returner in the 800, and 5 in the 1,600 while Lisenbee is No. 6 in the 1,600. The 3,200 looks to be Palmer Ridge territory. Ryan Matson is the No. 2 returner in the state in the 3,200, while teammate Maxwell Herebic will be in the mix as well.
The field events are where the PPAC nearly own the state. Some of the best high jumpers in the state come out of this league. Five state-qualifiers return this year, lead by Vista Ridge's Raymon Harper, who is the No.3 returner in the event. Teammate Tristan Pratt is No. 5 in the event, while Discovery Canyon's Seth Clawson is No. 7, Palmer Ridge's Maccee Reed is No. 8, and Discovery Canyon's Ryan Blake adds to the insane depth list.
The pole vault returns two of last year's state qualifiers. Leading the charge is Discovery Canyon's Samuel Brown, who is the No. 2 returner in the event. He'll likely have competition from Palmer Ridge's Stephen Vaughn returns.
Vista Ridge could make it a 1-2 sweep in the long jump, as Raymon Harper is the No. 2 returner in the state, while teammate Tristan Pratt is No. 3. If there's anyone that could break the band up, it'll be Reed.
Additionally, Reed is the No. 2 returner in the state in the triple jump, while Vista Ridge's Micah Hilts is No. 3, and Harper is No. 4.
For the shot there doesn't appear to be anyone who can go toe-to-toe with Air Academy's Rylee Ollivierre.