Green Mountain's Cammy Sargent proved herself as a leader last fall and will be counted on for big things for Green Mountain this fall. Colorado Track XC file photo.
It's mostly a Jefferson County region with Valor Christian and Elizabeth thrown in. There's some proud history in this region, but no state titles from the region's teams since Wheat Ridge's boys took one (in 5A) in 2007.
1. Evergreen - On paper, it doesn't appear that the Cougars have a whole lot coming back, but it is also true that this is not a team that sees a lot of ebb and flow in their fortunes. Rob Wright always seems to have a team ready in the fall. It will be a relatively young and inexperienced team this fall, but look for guys like sophomores Matt Kline and Alex Aafedt and senior Wes Johnson to step into big roles in Evergreen's pinstripes.
2. Elizabeth - The Cardinals look to be very solid this fall. Gus Terry is back for his senior season after winning the Colorado 7 League title and finishing second in last year's regional race. Jake Thompson and Willis Scott also return this fall and will be key to the Cardinals' plans to finish atop the region
3. Ponderosa - Despite losing team front runner Eli Hemming, Ponderosa brings enough to be hopeful about their prospects for the upcoming season. But there are questions. Frederick Tan showed up in track season only in a very minimal way, logging three 800 times in rankings meets. Phillip Reid is the returning #2 runner, but the ranks thin down a little after that and opportunity to step up is big on this team.
4. Conifer - In Kevin Johnson, Conifer has one of the region's top individuals. Johnson and fellow senior Mitch Hoffman start the scoring out well for the Lobos. But Lobos are most successful when they run in a tight pack. So, like Ponderosa, there's plenty of opportunity for guys to step up and make a difference on this team.
5. Green Mountain - Two of the returning top five didn't run track. Another of the returning top five stayed pretty far away from distance events. That leaves Samuel Smith and Nick Coleman as the likely leaders of the team this fall. Smith generally ran ahead of Coleman last fall, but there's a hint or two that order could have changed over the spring. In any case, the Rams need both to come up strong this fall.
As wide open as ranks are in this region, there are several teams which, though not showing a lot coming back on paper, are teams that could easily climb into the fray this fall. Those teams would include Wheat Ridge, D'Evelyn, Valor Christian, and Golden. A strong showing by any of these teams could catapult them well into the thick of things in this region.
1. Evergreen - It's probably going to take some kind of disaster for this team not to come out on top of the region. Every indicator you can look at puts Evergreen's girls well out in front. The familiar names of recent years are gone, though, so get used to associating names like Caitlin Schmitt, Camille Morales, and Jane Jensen with the leopard-spot print uniforms--easily the most unique girls uniforms in the state. Scmitt is a 5:17/11:51 type who will give this team a lot of pop up front.
2. D'Evelyn - The Jaguars look to be a very solid team again this fall. Annecy Olson and Emily Garnier are legitimate sub-20 types. Projected #3 Katie Cuniff didn't see a lot of track this spring and probably comes into the fall with a few questions to be answered. It's a proud tradition at D'Evelyn, so don't be surprised if this team finds a way to work themselves into the thick of things this fall.
3. Wheat Ridge - Proud tradition also resides here. Sophia Fernald is the First Farmer. Behind here is possibly the best depth in the region, to include 20-somethings Nyla Chamberlin, Nikki Strickler, Eliza VanWetter, and Leah Donnelly. They're all sophmores this fall, so they should be looking to build something together for the future of Wheat Ridge cross country. Chamberlin had the best track season of the freshman (now sophomore) crew this spring.
4. Golden - In case you missed it, the Demons started showing something last fall. Olivia Treitman is clearly among the region's top females. Sophia Wubben dropped below 20-flat, and Katelyn Shipman threatened that mark. There is a lot to be hopeful for in the shadow of Lookout Mountain. The program is clearly on the upswing and one or two more individuals making a big contribution here could kick this team to the next level.
5. Green Mountain - The checkerboard uniform girls are led by Cammy Sargent. A junior this fall, Sargent has some speed to complement her endurance. She is a 58/2:20 type in track, though she stays away from the longer distances in the spring. It doesn't seem to have hurt her cross country yet. Fellow junior Natalie Van Dyke is also proven at 5K, but the ranks of girls who have seen the south side of 21 thin out after that. Like some other schools in this region, Green Mountain will be looking for a little infusion of depth this fall.
Last year's regional winner in the girls has gone on to the Air Force Academy, but Caitlin Schmitt and Olivia Treitman ran a solid two-three last fall at the regional meet. Others with the potential to step up and mess up the order include Cammy Sargent, Camille Morales, and Sophia Fernald.
Among the boys, Gus Terry and Kevin Johnson return the top credentials from the regional race. But, D'Evelyn's Carter Prescott is probably a good deal more competitive than last year's regional race would indicate. Zac Petrie of Valor Christian has put in some time and miles since last cross country season and has undoubtedly leapfrogged a few of those who were formerly running in front of him. If there are others to take into account, they would probably fall under the category of "quietly working hard to make themselves better." We should know soon enough who those are.