Bracing For A New Wave Of Freshman Girls

Mia Prok was, hands down, the fastest freshman girl at the National High School Trail Championships.

As was the case with freshman boys, so it is with the girls. There's a whole new class of freshman girls coming up and we're going to need to get accustomed to their names pretty soon here.

It so happens that the National High School Trail Championships this past Saturday in Salida helped to pin down a few girls and their new high schools. So, the list of unknowns will be a bit shorter than it might have otherwise been.

We'll format this one just the same as we did for the boys, going classification-by-classification, starting with 2A. Almost all of the data is drawn from races run last fall, as there has been very little to go on in the last five months.

2A Girls

Having made a (soft) rule about data coming from last fall's races, I now proceed to break it... maybe. Zaila Smith of Buena Vista placed an impressive 22nd in a tough field at the National High School Trail Championships. We have no previous results under her name. So, she might be a freshman and she might not be. In any case, if she's running for BV this fall, she's a welcome addition for the Demons. By the way, BV was already a pretty good team in the 2A scheme of things.

Peyton, a team which has been rising ever-closer to the top of 2A, should be adding a couple of girls who can help in the near term. Those two girls would be Batula Murray and AJ Mannering. The Panthers seem able to reload, almost at will. And, keep in mind Peyton also gets to bring in a girl who ran sub-varsity only last fall due to the transfer rule. Peyton is an early candidate be this year's most improved team in 2A.

Thomas Maclaren adds Victoria O'Neill. It's not inconceivable she goes straight to the front of the pack for the Highlanders. I'm assuming here O'Neill stays the course at Thomas Maclaren, which isn't always a safe assumption with charter schools.

Lake County adds Keira King, who had a nice race at last year's middle school state meet.

Lyons, typically a major player on this scene, doesn't have anyone coming up this year who is an obvious contender for a varsity slot. At least none that have shown up on my radar screen.

Honestly, by early indications, it looks to be a bit of an off year for the number of rising freshmen in 2A who figure to be taking up prominent positions on their teams. Surely, it will turn out that I've missed a handful, but they aren't showing up much in the results we have from last fall.

3A Girls

The short list of names in 2A becomes a longer list of names in 3A. Bear with me for a while as I try to work through this.

If you recognize the surname De La Cerda, you'll understand that Sarah De La Cerda will become the third sibling, and the first sister, to run for Alamosa. She was one of three Ortega Middle Schoolers to finish in the top ten at middle school state last year. The other two have at least one more year in middle school to navigate.

Peak to Peak stood to pick up one, but Cayden Justice opted for Niwot instead. It figures to be a long, arduous road to varsity at Niwot, but the payout is big if you make it. Remember this when we get to 4A.

Jefferson Academy gets one who figures to step right up to varsity in Sarah Welsch. Delta does the same with Shayla Curtis. Elizabeth makes it three with Jaylee VanAernam.

Three who figure to have a solid, and immediate, impact are Andie Rasmussen of Eaton, Cassidy McDonald of The Classical Academy, and Payton Kauffman of Liberty Common. All three were in the top 30 of the Blue division at state last year. Camille Kollar of D'Evelyn was a bit further back, but could still end up helping the Jaguars this fall.

Word on the street is that Jaycee Williams, out of Bill Reed Middle School in Loveland, is headed to Berthoud. She figures to make a big impact there if she does.

Allison Pippert of Stargate is another who could have an immediate, and substantial, impact. Teammate Abby Umbenhouer isn't far behind. 

Figure Heather Russell of Estes Park and Justine Mowery of Gunnison into the mix while you're at it. Hannah Schissler of Severance stands to be a difference maker as well.

Will there be more? Of course there will. They'll just be ones who weren't as obvious last fall--for whatever reason. And that's okay.

4A Girls

We'll start with Niwot. Maybe because Niwot won the state title last fall, and maybe because they're knocking it out of the park this fall with the incoming freshman class. We've already mentioned Cayden Justice. But, besides her, there's Mia Prok, who matriculates from Nevin Platt Middle School in Boulder. Prok is a straight-to-varsity kind of runner. Prok should be on anyone's list of the top five incoming freshmen this fall. 

I don't doubt there are more, but sometimes word is slow to circulate. It is also true there wasn't a long list of notables in last year's 8th grade class of girls in the St. Vrain Valley School District. If Niwot's picking up other key contributors via the freshman class, it could be they're doing almost all of the developing on their own.

Bethany Michalak, possibly the biggest name to-date in this year's freshman class, is headed to Air Academy. She figures to join the list of notable names that have gone through AAHS.

Lewis-Palmer figures to close the gap a little on cross-district rival Palmer Ridge with the additions of Jade Allen and Emma Wilhelm. 

Katie Dreitlein comes up at Montrose with a varsity roster that should be well within her range to crack.

Lauren Raley moves up from Vanguard Middle School to Cheyenne Mountain High School. The Indians probably have room for Raley on their varsity seven. In a league where it's tough to keep pace, Raley helps Cheyenne Mountain keep pace.

Liliana Leal moves from Milliken Middle School to, presumably, Roosevelt High School. She has the kind of wheels needed to make varsity at Roosevelt.

Mostly, though, there's a whole lot of unknowns to deal with where 4A freshman girls are concerned. We're going to have to wait for the season to start for most of the clues to drop.

5A Girls

Like 4A, there's a lot of unknown to sort through in 5A. But, we probably have a few more known destinations in 5A.

Perhaps most notably, Chatfield picks up an enormous 1-2 punch with Reese Tucker and Aspen Webb. This should be game-changing for the Chargers.

Loveland picks up a key new entry in Elena Torres. She also happens to be the daughter of the coach at Loveland. Nice when things work out that way!

Gracie Prosceno follows her sister to Valor Christian. It may be something of a year of learning for the younger Prosceno, and the regular varsity roster at Valor just might be impermeable. Suvina Heidt is another entering this year at Valor. She, too, faces a daunting task of cracking the varsity roster.

Amanda Johnson takes her race to Legend. Aspen Hamilton is pointed toward Regis Jesuit. Both should have nice opportunities to contribute this fall. 

Jessica Derickson figures to be joining the long, green line at Mountain Vista. Dakota Ridge figures to get some bolstering from Hanan Aldelemy, Ava Wood, Abbey Brantley, and Tiana Skanderbeg. Have we said anything about Summit Ridge being arguably the best feeder program in the state?

That more or less exhausts the list of ones that I know where they're headed for this fall. There are, of course, plenty more, but it ain't always easy to know what the next step is when they're coming out of a middle school in Boulder, Ft. Collins, or anywhere in the greater Denver metro area.