Gazing into April's Crystal Ball: 3A Girls

Courtney Mills is currently creating a lot of concern for 3A rivals in the 200 meters, and a few other events as well. Photo by Alan Versaw.


I have a very high motivation to get this article written and move on to other things, so here goes...


If you've looked at a 3A girls virtual meet lately, you know things are close at the top. And I would submit to you that things are even closer than they appear. As the warning goes, objects in the rear view mirror are closer than they appear. And that would apply very nicely to a couple of teams positioned behind the two obvious contenders.


Several factors make this race closer than you'd think at first glance. One, both Berthoud and The Classical Academy have achieved their current rankings positions by using athletes in more than four events (though not in a single meet, of course). That tends to artificially inflate the scores in a virtual meet. Moreover, other schools have been rapidly closing the gap on both of the two aforementioned schools. At least one of those schools currently closing the gap should have an important athlete showing up soon. So, let's take a look at a team-by-team breakdown.


Berthoud - Courtney Mills just might end up being the top point producer in 3A girls this spring. And, in a classification that has Sam Berggren and Tiffany Kenney on its membership rolls, that is saying a bunch. Mills is currently the top-ranked 3A girl in the 100, 200, triple jump (38-0.25), and trails only Tiffany Kenney in the long jump. That's an impressive resume. And Mills has a lot of support around her on this team. Cheyenne Hall jumps and relays. Julia Leonard relays and hurdles. Mollie Bonds relays and hurdles. Hannah Kirk sprints and relays. Tanya Bezanson throws. And there are more. This, folks, is a formidable lineup.


Eaton - Two years ago, Eaton posted over 100 points at the state meet. This year's team is starting to resemble their predecessors. Sophomores Aimee Ledall and Paitton Heltenberg have come into their own this year and should be posting some serious points at state. What impresses most, however, is Eaton's ability to put solid relays on the board year after year after year. The Reds will need those relays to perform big at state. Pole vault is a fickle event, at best, but right now Karli Jelden owns the event at the 3A level. Ryleigh Haynes (you should recognize that last name if you've been around 3A track and field the last couple of years) and Mel Herl add more field event punch. This is a good team getting better by the meet.


Middle Park - Sam Berggren is going to post her points at state. We all understand that and we definitely appreciate the talent that she brings to the track. It's a bit of an open question, however, whether her four events this spring span 100 - 800 meters or 200 to 1600 meters. She's gone the former route all three previous years. But, her marks this year suggest the latter as a strong possibility. Time will tell. Quincey Pederson is doing nicely in the horizontal jumps. Middle Park is clogging things up in the pole vault rankings. All this and Cheyenne Hickox hasn't really gotten untracked yet this year and Elsa Krieg has yet to show up in a meet. Bear in mind that things are still pretty cold this time of year in Granby. Middle Park tends to be a bit of a late-developing team, perhaps on account of the delayed spring on the back side of Rocky Mountain National Park. If Krieg does eventually start throwing, this team becomes an instant top-tier contender.


The Classical Academy - A few nagging injuries have held the Titans back a little thus far, but not to any great extent. From the outside, Shelby Stableford and Alexa Chacon look like the big pieces to the puzzle, but it's really more a puzzle of a vast array of pieces each making their contributions. For the last three years, TCA has been able to count on a list of big point producers. That list is smaller this year and therefore lots of people will have to be counted on to score points in twosies, threesies, and foursies at state if the team is to repeat this spring. Like Eaton and like Berthoud, relay production will be critical to success at state. But also like Eaton and Berthoud, relays can be costly in terms of individual talent. One relay uses an available event for four (and possibly up to six) people. You always want to do well in relays, but you're constantly counting the cost in terms of opportunities traded off.


Cedaredge - Sierra Williams is one of 3A's top talents this spring. There can be no disputing that fact. The Bruins will need some help developing in other events, however, to make a big run at state. The 4x100 relay is purring along (oops, wrong metaphor, bears don't purr) very nicely so far this spring. Freshman Rebecca Deal is the real deal in the triple jump. This is a well-coached team, look for more events to start rising toward the top as the season progresses.


Holy Family - Year in and year out, Holy Family produces a very competitive team. Basketball may be king here, but track and field doesn't suffer much. Alexis Gerry is at least close to being the top thrower in the classification. Ana Plonski is a solid hurdler. The relays have been solid, but not quite spectacular to this point in the season. Large participation numbers help to ensure that this program always exhibits quality.


Hotchkiss - If you were to put Hotchkiss and neighboring Cedaredge together this year, you'd still have a 3A school and it would be a monster of a girls team. The fact that both are among the top contenders and yet at the lower end of the classification in terms of enrollment speaks highly of the coaching in the Delta County School District. Freshmen Natalie Anderson and Jennifer Celis have been lighting things up on the western slope this spring. They promise to bring a lot of excitement to the next four state meets, starting with the one coming up in six weeks. Right now, Anderson looks like the favorite at 3200 meters, but that contest promises to be anything but uninteresting. Kylie Hodges, another freshman, is throwing very well--well enough to be ranked near the top of the shot put. Historically, Hotchkiss has leaned heavily on relays. This year figures to be no different. Figure on the Bulldog relays climbing in the rankings as the season goes on. That's the way it typically works.