Few of the state's jumpers rival the diversity of talents Nola Basey brings to the runways. Photo by Jeff McCoy.
You'd expect 5A to be the most competitive of all the classifications, and things are already shaping up very much that way in most of the 5A jumping events.
In the high jump, Poudre's Carly Paul should figure as the favorite, but she doesn't come in as a prohibitive favorite. She'll be chased by the likes of Courtney Bartusiak (Heritage), Katelyn Ellis (Brighton), Ashlyn Hare (Rampart), Melissa Barella (Arapahoe), Kelsey Cleere (Grandview), and, of course, Autumn Gardner (Mountain Range). Fossil Ridge, which figures to be a major player in the team title race has a potential player as well in the person of Koree Willer. Conventional wisdom says to take Paul and Gardner as the two favorites and throw the rest of the names into a hat and draw names for the other places. At this point, it's difficult to do much better than that. But don't be misguided into thinking that points earned in the high jump on the third weekend in May will be inconsequential to the overall team title.
The long jump figures to be Chyna Ries's event to lose, but at this moment in time Ries is just a smidgin off the pace of her magic from last year. Not enough off, however, for anyone to be closing in any telling sort of way. Behind her, things could go a lot of different ways between Sloan Raskie (Rampart), Koree Willer, Brianna Pardner (Overland), Taylor Buschy (Loveland), Hannah Sparks (Cherokee Trail), Stephanie Nwagwu (Grandview), and Carly Lester (Rocky Mountain). All are returning 17-mid or better jumpers from last spring. Talia Marquez (Arvada West) has threatened those kind of distances in indoor this winter as well. Zainab Sanni dabbled with some success in the long jump early in the indoor season, but it's not clear at this point if that's an abandoned project or not. You have to wonder if Taylor Buschy long jumps at state or throws her considerable talents into the relay pool, as is the time-honored custom in the Quere regime at Loveland. But, Kaylee Packham ran two hurdle events and relays, so there's clearly some special dispensation allowed for those with the talent to score outside of relays. Buschy just might fall into that category. Time will tell.
The triple jump is perhaps most wide open of all. Lindsey Read (Fossil) and Maya Ries (Denver East) have enjoyed nice indoor seasons, but not nice enough yet that anyone's writing the event off to either of these two. Dior Hall (GW), Koree Willer, and Kelsey Cunningham (Regis Jesuit) all figure to have some say about the final outcome. At this point, there doesn't figure to be a Danielle Williams in this year's crowd of trile jumpers. And, of course, you never quite know what Dior Hall will be doing at state. The piece of speculation with the most supporting evidence from history would figure for the 100 hurdles and the 200 as sure things, while surrounding any other event with question marks. Even then, you would have been wrong last year when the Saturday of state rolled around. That led to some serious shifting of team points in the final tally.
In the pole vault, Cherry Creek's Megan McCabe is the first and best hope to break of the stranglehold of Lakewood domination that tallied almost 30 points at the state meet last spring. Lauren Brunsdale, Mikaela Lodl, and Lauren Santi are each back for the Tigers, though, and don't figure to be a force easily quelled. But, it probably doesn't hurt McCabe's motivation factor that Cherry Creek is a clear contender for a team state title this spring.
The 4A long jump looks to have a short list of names at the top, and the two there bring team title implications with them. Pueblo South and Thompson Valley carry big team title hopes into this spring, and the long jump could easily come down between South's Jayma Martin and TV's Haley Stephens. Tatianna Clanton of Coronado appears to have the best potential to break up the party. Niwot's team title hopes take a boost if Amber Liu adds a few inches to her best jump of 2012, but it's a serious logjam of returning jumpers between 16-6 and 17-2 or so. Liu will need to break free of the logjam to be a substantial factor in the team scoring.
Moving to the triple jump, you have a very clear top four of returning competitors. Those four would be Eagle Valley's Michelle Carbajal, Battle Mountain's Val Constein, Pueblo South's Aly Ary, and Berthoud's Ally Klaes. Constein is probably the first cross country state medalist with a shot at being a triple jump state medalist in a good, long while. You just don't figure for much cross-pollination between cross country and the triple jump. Ally Klaes appears to be next in the line of extremely talented Berthoud jumpers (remember Cheyenne Hall? Courtney Mills?). Klaes simply has to adjust to the 4A level of expectations instead of last spring's 3A level. Possibilites abound.
If her game is on when state rolls around, Thompson Valley's Lindsey Kroboth leads the field of returning high jumpers. There are 5-3 types behind her in the persons of Angelique Urenda (Pueblo South), Rebecca Harris (Sand Creek), Caroline Bryan (Valor Christian), and Carsyn Copeland (Rifle). Take Kroboth as your favorite, but understand also that a new cowboy on this range might find a lot of opportunity.
So far as the pole vault goes, nobody has yet shown she has the wherewithal to rival what Addy Neibauer of Greeley Central does beyond the end of her pole. Neibauer takes prohibitive favorite status into the spring season. Elizabeth's Kimberly Peterson is next-best positioned coming out of indoor. We'll see where things develop from there.
Cedaredge's Rebecca Deal has the best returning long jump mark, but Chloe Rogers (Kent Denver) has enjoyed a very nice indoor campaign. Rachael Moralez of Platte Valley had a few nice jumps last year, but we'll see how event selection works out for Moralez this spring. It's not at all a given that, when Platte Valley makes their state event selections, Moralez will be listed among the long jumpers. A lot more certain is the expectation that we'll see Pagosa's Toni Stoll and Gabby Pajak waiting patiently toward the end of the line of girls taking their turns at the Jeffco Stadium long jump pit in May. If Ellicott's Ashlee Lenz finds her way to a little more consistency with her distance, she's capable of joining this crew as well.
3A will be experiencing some measure of mixed feelings in the triple jump over the departure of Berthoud to 4A. The departure opens up a lot of potential points, but also takes away some of the urgency of sharpening your game. We'll see how 3A deals with that opportunity. Of those who do return to 3A, Toni Stoll and Chloe Rogers rank well ahead of the remainder of the field. If there are more natural-born 37-ish, or better, triple jumpers out there, this would be a good time for those individuals to step up and be recognized.
As we turn our attention to the high jump, we run the risk of sounding like a broken record. Chloe Rogers' name floats right to the surface of consideration in this event as well. She's visited 5-7 once already in the indoor season. Realistically, barring the emergence of a freshman phenom or two (or a stray volleyball player or two deciding to give track and field a try), the other possibilities seem to be confined to Taylor Strohecker (Pagosa Springs), Ryleigh Haynes (Eaton), and Tyler Chrisman (Sterling).
The pole vault? Probably no event is more central to Eaton's team title hopes than this one. Last year's marks, however, suggest that the individual title comes down between Eaton's Jazmin Schwark and Gunnison's Maddie Smith.
No matter what classification your rooting interests belong to, learn the name of Nola Basey. Basey may be the state's best all-around returning jumper (although Koree Willer and Chloe Rogers also merit mention on that list). Basey is the number one reason that the Lyons girls are once again seriously in the 2A girls title hunt this spring. She is 2A's top returning high jumper (5-6) and triple jumper (37-3), and ranks #4 on the list of returning long jumpers (17-2). In between all that jumping she's also been known to run a 200 or a relay leg or two.
At the high jump pit, Veronica Burney (Miami-Yoder) and Kathryn New (Sangre de Cristo) have the next-best returning marks, but both Burney and New have serious distractions at other event venues. We'll wait and see how much emphasis either gives to the high jump this spring.
In the triple jump, Jamie Clawson (Highland) and Keturah Tatum (Limon) have demonstrated the potential to cause trouble. Both went into the high 35s last spring. Nobody else in the 2A field reached 35 feet.
Long jump gets a little more intriguing. As it stands now, things look to be a near dead heat between Soroco's Micaela Meyer, Swink's Lindsey Tatum, and Cripple Creek-Victor's Katie Tapia. Oh, and throw Basey into that mix as well. It's should take something beyond 17-0 to win this thing, even at state with Jeffco Stadium's generously-filled long jump pit.
Pole vault, ahem, need you ask? Isn't this one more or less Akron's exclusive domain? Akron thinks enough of this event to have built an indoor PV facility. It helps when things get cold and windy in the spring, as is the general rule for springtime in Akron. In Akron, girls pole vault is as big of a deal as boys football--and good for them for that. Akron's Sidney Merrill is easily the top returning 2A pole vaulter. Depending on how Yuma's Kalyn Blach and a couple of prospects from Lyons do, Akron has the potential to nail down the top four (or more) state places in this event. It's not a big secret that some people get chafed about that sort of domination by one school, but there's simply no rational reason that a fourth girl on a pole vault cadre such as Akron (or Lakewood) should be ceding a near lock on a state medal to someone who has never vaulted within a foot of what she has.
Heidi Cogburn (Walsh) returns, by a long stretch of sand-studded real estate, the best mark of 2012, but Cogburn also found it difficult replicating that 16-8 mark from last spring. So, this one is more interesting than a casual glance at the rankings from last year would suggest. Others with gilt-edged opportunity include Hannah Maben (Elbert), Rebecca Kaiser (Prairie), and Lyndee Johnston (Pawnee). Kaiser and Johnston should test each other several times during the season. Pawnee and Prairie are practically next-door neighbors as distances are reckoned in the wide open country north of I-76 between Greeley and Julesburg.
There was a day when most track people in Colorado knew altogether too well where Julesburg was, but the sun has set, and even twilight has gone dark, on that day. For those not old enough to remember, Julesburg is about as far into the northeast corner of Colorado as civilization, or the remnants thereof, reaches.
Jenna Zink (Caliche) leads the list of returning ranked triple jumpers, but probably nobody in the state faces more event selection decisions than Zink. If, however, Caliche ends up in the team title race, it's a good bet that Zink ends up in the line at the triple jump pit. Zink's probability of winning this event is pretty high if she does the event. Morgan Howard (Cheyenne Wells) is the only other returning triple jumper who has visited the area north of 33 feet, although Morgan Burns (Peetz) got close enough last year to sniff it.
Morgan Howard also rates as the top returning high jumper in the classification at 5-3. That's a bunch better (almost half a foot) than second-best, so we'll pencil Howard into "presumptive favorite" status in the high jump.
Like all of 1A (only more so), the 1A girls pole vault is a thinly-populated event. Until and unless Vail Christian trains up another pole vault phenom, North Park's Shya Redman ranks as the #1 1A pole vaulter. At 7-6 however, Redman needs to keep boosting her clearance to be justified in breathing easy about her title chances.