In a stacked field of returning 100 hurdlers, Kami Mendez has the top ranking from last year. But she's not a lock to be this year's best hurdler. Photo by Alan Versaw.
A recurring theme of the Track Teams to Watch series was great hurdlers. Colorado's been on a nice run of short hurdlers for a few years running, but it's possible this year could have the best set of hurdlers in recent memory.
Better still, each classification has at least one top-flight hurdler.
Starting with the 2A ranks, the top two hurdlers, both ranked in the overall top 20 for the state last year, return. Caitlyn Hubbard of Limon, who blazed a 15.14 at state last year returns to defend her crown. But it's not an undisputed crown. Lindsey Stindt of Norwood, who will compete for Telluride this spring in a cooperative program, was close on Hubbard's heels (15.47) last spring. In fact, that little extra push from Stindt likely helped Hubbard to reach the 15.14 time. Other top hurdlers in the 2A ranks this spring should include Tori Mortensen of Sanford and Emy Ludwig of Telluride, the latter suggesting that Telluride has the makings of a hurdle juggernaut this spring.
Also in the 15s last spring from 2A was a freshman from Elbert, Logan Franek. Elbert, however, drops down to 1A this spring and so 1A starts the year with a marked hurdler. The next returning 1A hurdler was more than a second back of Franek. Elbert was good about scheduling some bigger meet competition last spring and Franek should benefit from that if they do it again this year.
At the 3A level, the crown is in the hands of Tiffany Kenney (15.30, state prelims) and figures to stay there. But, as CSCS knows from past experience, you're never more than one fall away from hurdle disaster. Due to some losses to graduation, there is a large gap after Kenney before we find the next returning 3A hurdler. That would be Alexa Chacon of TCA, with a best mark of 16.18 last spring. It gets interesting rapidly behind Chacon.
As you might expect, things heat up a little when we move to the 4A classification. Annie Kunz (14.51) is a prohibitive preseason favorite. Even though Kunz splits time with soccer, she seems to have more than enough natural ability to make things look easy in track and field as well. Madi Goodstein of Glenwood Springs ranks next among returners, but did not have an official time under 16 seconds last spring.
You have to know that there are a few savvy 4A coaches reading this and sizing up the situation. Those coaches will devote some extra time this spring developing hurdle talent. There are big state meet points up for grabs in this event in 4A. Opportunity knocks.
It's in the 5A ranks, however, that thinks look to start getting wild. I'm not sure what privileges attach to returning with the #1 ranking from last spring, but those privileges rest on the shoulder's of Denver East's Kami Mendez (14.43). In any case, it's not a comfortable place to be this spring.
Likely the first concern for Mendez is the girl who has beaten her frequently this spring in indoor meets in the 60 hurdles, Dior Hall. If anyone knows who Hall is running for this spring, they aren't saying, but it's likely to remain a mystery only a short while longer. It appears likely it will be a DPS school.
And, as if Hall isn't enough of a worry, things pack up in a hurry behind Mendez. Returning from last spring is an honor roll of 2010's top hurdles--CSU signee Stephanie Gerber (14.44), the Loveland duo of Maggie Anderson (14.78) and Kaylee Packham (14.82), Erin Bowers of ThunderRidge (15.03, and only a freshman last spring), Rock Canyon's Ivy Deibel (15.40). Monica Franco (15.65) of Fort Collins, and Jamie Derrieux (15.66) of Grand Junction. An additional four 5A girls also posted times under 16.00 at least once last spring.
Getting to finals in 5A figures to be an ordeal.
Enjoy the spectacle!