Valor's Spencer Jamison comes in as the top seed in the 400. Photo by Alan Versaw.
This one, ladies and gentlemen, has taken a few turns over the course of the season.
The heavyweight title bout contenders now appear to be down to three--Valor Christian, Vista Ridge, and Coronado.
For Valor and Vista Ridge, it's a lot about relays. The outcome of the state meet could easily turn on how the 4x100, 4x200, and 4x400 come out. Both Valor and Vista are loaded in these events, and a mishandled baton could be a disaster of epic proportions.
Outside of relays, Valor's point-scoring potential is mostly limited to sprinters Greg Popylisen and Spencer Jamison, plus throwers Cody Bratten and Stanley Gilbert. That doesn't give the Eagles much in the way of margin of error.
The margin of error is only slightly better in the Vista Ridge camp. Look for big contributions from Brandon Cartagena, hurdler Darrian Morgan, jumper Noah Gabel, jumper DJ Green, and, of course, the relays. Exceeding a few seedings would be big for the Wolves.
Coronado is a curious, and late, entry to the list of state title contenders. The Cougars are definitely a distance-heavy team, and much will hinge on how Bailey Roth holds up under the load he's staring down. At this moment, that load would appear to the the 4x800, 1600, and 3200. Assuming Roth runs a leg of the 4x800, Coronado is the team to beat in that event. Coronado is also looking to pick up a few more points in distance events and the jumps and vaults. Dan Egger, Steve Duncan, and Triydel Vaughn are among the likely suspects.
Pueblo South, Thompson Valley, and Cheyenne Mountain are three teams with dark horse hopes. None of these teams are especially strong in relays, and that will hurt their chances. TV and CM butt heads a lot in distance events and could end up depleting their own deep well of points there. Figure that the same evaluation applies to Coronado. Guys like Joe Maloney and Ethan Gonzales might further exacerbate that problem.
Events not to be missed:
100 meters - This is the best 4A 100 meter field in my memory. You have Kalen Ballage, Alex Mead, Greg Popylisen, Demetrius Graves, Brandon Cartagena, and Zac McCoy occupying the top six seeds. Photographers are advised to leave lots of room beyond the finish line.
800 meters - How could you not love a showdown between Daniel Lara, Joe Maloney, and Abdiaziz Abukar? It may take a 1:52-ish kind of time to win this one.
1600 meters - If the guys have something left in their legs on Saturday, Bailey Roth, Daniel Lara, and Chandler Reid should be showing down for another great one. And, make no mistake, there are other guys who just might jump into contention on this one as well.
110 hurdles - Nick Betz and Alec Willard have been exceptionally close all season. They go at it one more time. And, if either makes the slightest mistake, Chris Cutcher can pick up the pieces on them.
Long jump - DJ Hanes, Noah Gabel, and Brodie Hicks know one another all too well. They've been squaring off at meets all season long. For one last time here, they meet again for all the marbles.
A lot of great athletes are going to go home with first-place medals.