Here are some of my observations from Saturday’s Valor Christian Invitational:
1. Several 4A girls’ state meet records are in serious jeopardy. Taylor Klein was very sharp at 100h, Elise Cranny “jogged” a 10:44 3200, and Marybeth Sant turned everyone’s head with a blazing leadoff leg in the 4x100. All three were truly magnificent to watch.
2. Valor might have the most top-end talent in the state; in addition to the aforementioned Sant, Brian Kula has two monster discus throwers who had big heaves Saturday: Cody Bratten and Haley Showalter. Showalter will team with Aimee Larrabee to from a very dynamic duo in the throws. Greg Popylisen did nothing to diminish the impression he made during the indoor season, and one would presume that Valor’s sprint strength will only increase when Christian McCaffrey laces ‘em up for the first time this year.
3. Not sure if I wasn’t paying attention, but Horizon’s Megan Mooney is a freshman to watch; she had a very nice 400-800 double on Saturday, besting the defending 4A runnerup and several others at 800. She’ll have plenty of tutors in the Front Range League to teach her the ropes.
4. The Niwot and Thompson Valley girls should continue to stage close team battles all season. The Cougars boast triple jumper Rachel Sharpe and 200-400-800 runner Dana Maydew; all-state cross country runner Christa Boettiger looked right at home at 3200, and a trio of vaulters all cleared at least nine feet yesterday. All of those girls could score individual points at state, and the Cougars will field a full complement of potent relays. Oh, and Elise Cranny.
5. The Eagles won both team titles with balanced attacks. The boys scored points in every event except the high jump and the girls in all events other than the throws and pole vault. They are a group of athletes that will probably get a lot of top-five finishes in many meets this year.
6. Durango seems to be misplaced outside the 4A top 10, on both sides. This is much more than the Joe and Shannon Maloney show. Both 4x800 relays ran sharp races Saturday, Austin Miles is a major threat in the shot put, McKenzie Marciante won the girls’ pole vault in a fine early-season 9-6, and seemingly everywhere I turned, a red-pitchforked uniform was doing something good. The Demons will be back on this side of the pass several times this year and are sure to continue to turn heads.
7. It was easy to see why Stan Lambros and Karen Scott are having so much fun at Cheyenne Mountain this spring. In the finals of the boys’ triple jump and discus, the entire team was at the event cheering, having fun and making a lot of noise. They staged a nice battle with Niwot for the loudest presence during the 4x4s as well.
8. There’s no need to feel sorry for Tim McIntire and Longmont this season. Freshman Trevor Long ran a very credible 100, sophomore Ethan Hitchcock shouldn’t take too long to remind everyone of his older brother, Braden; coach Kevin Akers is having an immediate impact on the Trojan’s middle-distance prospects, and Miles Bergner, Marcus Johnson and Forrest Wetterstrom all showed midseason savvy. But, did I read this correctly: Longmont didn’t have a single entrant in the boys’ pole vault? Don’t expect that to be the case for long (no pun intended).
9. The Longmont boys tied Palmer Ridge with just over 81 points Saturday; they, like their female teammates, form a very complete and competitive team. Daniel Baumgardt is one of a stable of solid jumpers for the Bears, and Evan Malin will be a threat in both hurdles. The girls had a quite a presence in the jump pits as well, while Dana Kirk and Ali Deitsch should be potent in several events on the track.
10. It was truly a pleasure to be around all eleven programs and their coaching staffs Saturday. What a great sport we have when coaches can line their great teams up against each other and share a lot of laughs at the same time. Here’s hoping to more of the same the rest of the season.