Taleah McClintock should have several capable teammates to share 4x800 duties this spring. Photo by Alan Versaw.
Last year's state meet didn't go well for Conrad Crist's team. Don't be counting on lightning striking twice in the same place.
Things started falling apart at the 4x800 and never really got much better. But there are a whole lot of people looking for redemption this year. And they have the credentials to find it.
All you need to know about the Fort Collins distance crew is that the cross country team finished sixth in the nation last fall. The possibilities at 800 meters and up are almost endless. Erin Hooker, Marci Witczak, Maddie Staab, and Taleah McClintock are joined by the most talented freshman class to pass through FCHS in a long, long time. Maybe ever. Getting a spot on the 4x800 relay team might be a lot like scoring tickets to the Super Bowl.
Fort Collins bagged a measly 11 points in the distance events at state last year. Nothing seems more unlikely this spring than a reprise of that scenario. Erin Hooker has taken a huge step forward since last spring and the supporting cast is place.
But, it's not just about distance for Fort Collins track and field. Never has been.
Rachel Rudel has the potential to be among the classification's top three to five triple jumpers. And teammate Aubree Dietrich is nipping at the heels of 5A's top ten triple jumpers. Neither Rudel nor Dietrich is likely to go to the top of the pile, but both could collect points at state.
Rudel may also figure at 800 meters, or at least as a 4x800 leg.
Laresa Dern is among the top returning discus throwers in the 5A classification.
Monica Franco is among the best returning 5A high jumpers. In an event as fickle as the high jump, point swings can go wildly one way or the other, but Franco's personal best of 5-5 should have her in solid contention. Franco is also a top 100 hurdler, but it must be conceded that 5A girls 100 hurdles is going to be a wickedly tough field this spring. Franco figures to get to state in the 300 hurdles, but hasn't quite shown yet that scoring in that event is a likely scenario.
All those returning names from last year, plus a few new freshmen within the distance ranks, figure to have Fort Collins high in the eventual state order but short of making a serious run at the gold trophy.
But there's a footnote to this story. Well, actually, there are two. And, this is a case where you really need to read the footnotes.
Enter Emily Elliott and Katie Weber. Two of the big parts of Windsor's 4A state title machine from last spring are now at Fort Collins High School. I don't pretend to have any word on what the dictates of the transfer rule are in this case, but--assuming that Elliott and Weber run--Fort Collins suddenly has a lot more in the way of sprint, hurdle, and sprint relay possibilties. Elliott is a 200/400 athlete, Weber more of a 300 hurdler. Both are state-quality athletes.
And that puts an entirely new spin on things. Get used to thinking of Fort Collins as a state title contender.