Cyler Miles is part of a Mullen sprint group that is as deep and as talented as any this state has seen in a good, long time. Photo by Alan Versaw.
If you like contest with a lot of speed, power, mystery, and intrigue, then 4A boys is the classification you need to be watching this spring.
Longmont, Sierra, and Mullen have had a stranglehold on the state titles for the last few years. And, each of those programs are back in the mix this year. But this year they also have a lot of company. Nobody is going to be able to win the 4A state title without having a great state meet--there are simply too many contenders for anyone to be able to slide by on a lot of talent and a mediocre showing.
So, let's take a look at the contenders on a team-by-team basis:
Broomfield - Last year, an injury to Trent Ireland at the state meet sunk the hopes of the Eagles. If Ireland stays healthy through the Saturday of the state meet this year, that's somewhere between 20 and 30 points that Broomfield should be able to put on the board. That, of course, is nowhere near enough to be competitive for a state tile, even in the best-case scenario. It's time to remember that the distance group at Broomfield is making strides, literally and figuratively. Both Ben Forsee (3200) and the 4x800 relay are looking like potential scorers at state. And, among 4x400 relays this spring, Broomfield's is faring very nicely. Broomfield needs still more than that, though. Perhaps some folks emerging in the field events group? At the very least, the field events have a history of performing well for Broomfield.
Cheyenne Mountain - You think of Nolan Mayhew when you think of Cheyenne Mountain, but there's a lot more to this team than what is headed to Texas A&M in the fall. Mayhew is certainly a threat to win the 200, 400, and 800. He's also a threat to anchor state title-winning 4x400 and 4x800 relays. Oops, that's five events. Something has to give here. I don't pretend to know what the plans are in the head of coach Stan Lambros, but I know both he and I can count to five. Cheyenne Mountain is tough at 800 meters with or without Mayhew. Chuck Zulanas and Jake Fox give the Indians real depth. Mitch Kasyon is nipping at the heels of the kind of times it will take to score at state at 3200 meters. Colt Sessions is having a nice year in the high jump. Two names that have gone quiet of late could help the cause if they return--Canyon Barry (triple jump) and Tyler Pigford (sprints).
Longmont - The Trojans are oozing with talent this year. The track events have seen better days at LHS, but the hurdles and field events are riding a crest of success at the moment. Think Derek Wing and Steven Wacker in the pole vault, Josh Cogdill and Braden Hitchcock in the hurdles, Cogdill again in the high jump. Hitchcock again in the long and triple jumps (though, truthfully, the horizontal jumps are loaded this year in 4A and scoring big points will be a challenge for anyone). Justin Reedy-Hansen in the shot put. And several more throwers who could, on a solid day, pick up an odd point or two in the shot or disc.
Mullen - If you've run a 4A boys virtual meet any time this season, you've missed something. As hard as it is to imagine Mullen laying low, that's exactly what they're doing right now. But, what you need to know is that the Mustangs were one dropped baton away from a scintillating 4x100 on Saturday. The sprint group of Jaylyn Mars, Cyler Miles, and Malik McKinney has, as a group, no peers in the state. Rayshon Williams has been posting some of this year's big high jump marks and figures to help on a relay. Arthur Flores figures to help the cause via the shot put, but Mullen is not showing the array of field event and distance strength it has been known for. So, the burden will likely fall mostly on the shoulders of the sprint group. And, if you think these guys don't know how to win, check out Mullen's recent history in football.
Palmer Ridge - The Bears title hopes are built largely on the prowess of two seniors--hurdler Hunter Warwick and distance runner Spencer Wenck. If anything goes slightly south for either of these two at the state meet, Palmer Ridge is in trouble. But, if these two have huge state meets, the Bear could make a run as a team. Winn Howard figures to make a contribution in the high jump, as well.
Sierra - From an outsider's perspective, there's some cause for concern here. Chris Sterling pulled early in the 400 at the Mullen Runners Roost meet. If that was a hamstring injury, it could definitely hobble the Stallions' title hopes. Javonte Walker-Reese his having a stellar season hurdling and high jumping. The 4x200, always a Sierra trademark, has been doing well, but may rise or fall with the health of Chris Sterling. The margin is very thin for this team, but the talent and history are such that it's foolish to dismiss this team.
Vista Ridge - More than any other team on this list, Vista Ridge is a newcomer to the club of 4A elites. Although the Wolfpack lacks a true title threat in a track event, they are working very well as a team this spring. Most importantly, they're producing big on relays. Brandon Cartagena is the fastest of the sprint group, but it's because of guys like AJ Barbee, Josh Lewis, and TJ Frison that Vista Ridge is currently on top of the 4A heap in the 4x100 and 4x200. And, as of this moment, TJ Frison holds the top long jump mark in the state. While the long jump is notorious as a fickle event at state, those would be 10 big points at state for Vista Ridge if Frison can validate his current ranking.
Widefield - Based on sheer depth of athleticism, this may be the most dangerous team in the mix (though I'm sure there could be an argument or two on that score). Chris Ashe, Tony Carodine, and Laquan Johnson may be the best set of horizontal jumpers in the state. Boris Berian has a couple obstacles to deal with along the way, but you can bet that repeating as state champion in the 400 and 800 is on his mind. The 4x400 and 4x200 relays are purring along nicely. Berian will likely have to pare down to two of the three events of 200, 4x200, and 4x400 before state rolls around, however.
On the outside looking in for now:
Pueblo South - Brian Castellucci and Daniel Pierson are both potential event winners at state. And there is some talent spread scross the rest of the team as well, but the Colts haven't yet shown the kick needed to move to the status of top title contender.
Pueblo West - Mike Cernoia will score big points in distance events, but there doesn't seem to be enough support for the Cyclones to emerge as a big title threat. It doesn't help that guys like Nolan Mayhew, Boris Berian, Alfredo Lebron, and Spencer Wenck are standing in line for points at 800 meters and up as well.
Wasson - DJ Hanes and Seth Brown are big talents, but state meet kind of support is very thin at this point.