Kelby Dias, above, seeks to defend his twin titles in the 4A 110 and 300 meter hurdles (Photo by Ken Regan).
Last year, 4A boys belonged to Longmont. The Trojans lost some talent to graduation, but there are still horses in the stable. Any team figuring on dethroning Longmont had better be planning on having a solid showing at the state meet. The "big three' for Longmont this spring should be Daniel Berry (200/400), Tevan McIntire (jumps), and Aaron Praska (hurdles). It seems almost inconceivable that coach Tim McIntire won't have a few more young athletes ready to place at state by the time May rolls around.
It wouldn't be a state meet without Mullen, however, And, like Longmont, the Mustangs do more reloading than rebuilding. Stanford-bound Andrew Berberick will be heating things up at just about whatever distance he chooses over 800 meters, though the 800 meters in probably his signature race. Pole vaulter and hurdler Elliot Beski will also be counted on the bring in some high points at state.
Down the road a piece at Sierra High School, the coaching reins have changed hands, but Kelby Dias still has to be regarded as the odds-on favorite to win both hurdle events. When all was said and done, he turned in a pretty decent long jump at last year's state meet to claim that title as well. Sierra's team strength in recent years has resided in its relays. If the relays are as strong as they've been the last couple of years, the Stallions rank as definite title contenders. If not, it will be difficult keeping up with Longmont and Mullen.
At one point, Glenwood Springs appeared likely to rise into the role of title contender, but the departure of Donnie Jennert to Florida put a serious dent in the Demons' title hopes. Still, all-state quarterback Dakota Stonehouse should be yet another horse in the hurdle races.
Sterling appears very strong in the field events, but will need some help on the track to make a serious run at a title. Broomfield always fields a competitive team, but lost some serious points to graduation and will have to find a way to patch those holes. Ditto for Greeley Central.
In other years, the distance strength of 4A newcomer Wheat Ridge--Henry Cowhick, Scott Fauble, and Dart Schwaderer--might be enough to make them a clear title contender. This, however, is no ordinary year for 4A distance and so the points this trio are likely to garner might be somewhat diminished from what their accomplishments to-date would otherwise suggest. Look for a rugged 4 X 800 team from the Farmers, however.
And what would that other distance talent might be? We've already discussed Andrew Berberick of Mullen, but Falcon's duo of Wes Rickman and Kevin Johnson are likewise not be to taken lightly. Rickman has fought hamstring problems over the last year, but--assuming he has returned to health--there just aren't many folks who will keep pace with him, especially at 3200 meters. It would also be unwise to overlook Castle View's Aaron Friedland and Chris Ganem, Niwot's Alex Paul, or Evergreen's Ryan Haebe.
Two much-anticipated showdowns between Joe Hochanadel (Fort Morgan) and Ken Harriman (Pueblo South) promise to keep the throwing events interesting right down until the state finals.
Widefield's Patrick Richards has taken a first and two second places in the sprints with him through graduation, but the Gladiators may not miss him as much as you'd think. Senior Derek McAllister promises to pick up where Richards left off.