The lay of the landscape has changed a little since the last time we visited 5A girls. This title bout is a whole lot more interesting that we figured it to be roughly a month ago.
5A girls virtual meet
At this point, I'm going with the team with the hot hand, and Fort Collins is that team. Fort Collins has only gotten better all season long. Josephine Natrasevschi is a legitimate threat to win both throws. Better still, she's the clear favorite to win both throws. Audra Koopman doesn't figure to win the long jump, but she figures to score big in the sand. Fort Collins should be able to score three or four relays, and possibly win the 4x800. Lauren Gregory is a huge presence at 800, 1600, and 3200 meters, and Collins could sneak a few more points in the distance events if things go well. Becca Schulte has reasonable hopes of scoring 400 points, and at 100 and 200, the focus shifts back to Audra Koopman. Aside from hurdles, this is a very well balanced team going into state. But the margin for error is very slim...
The reason the margin for error is so slim is that Pine Creek is in the hunt. I really don't know if things aren't going exceptionally well at Pine Creek this spring or if the team is purposely measuring their performances, but we have yet to see what looks like a full-on strafing run from the Eagles. Of course, there isn't any need to show that before the state meet, so we may simply be looking for something ahead of its time. We do know Pine Creek has the weapons. Ally Watt won't run the 400 this year, but she will be on the line for the 100 and 200. I think we can infer from that that she probably has a relay or two up her sleeve. And such is the depth of the Pine Creek relays that Watt probably doesn't need to run prelims to advance the teams. Heide Baron, in the 400, is the only other Pine Creek sprinter listed in an individual event. And we can safely infer from that that the Pine Creek relays are coming to Jeffco Stadium fully loaded. There could be some relay records in serious jeopardy. There are four sprint relays and, though unlikely, Pine Creek could conceivably win all four.
Outside of sprints and sprint relays, Pine Creek is sitting just barely on the outside looking in for points in distance events. Between the 1600, 3200, and 4x800, however, don't be suprised if Kaleigh Kroeker and company pick up a few points. Mackenzie Howie is entered in the 300 hurdles, and she should score there. Amelia Harvey shows well in the long and triple jump but will need a big meet against stiff competition. Dakota Divich is currently projected to finish out of points, but is close enough to bear watching. Pine Creek will hope for points, as well, from Sydney Marr and Amanda Skarban in the throws.
There's a lot of star power on this team, but the star power has been a little nicked up this season. You know what to look for by now--you know all about Ashley Miller in the hurdles, Megan McCabe in the long jump and pole vault, and Jordyn Colter at 800, 1600, and 3200. In addition to the big three, Avery Paxton could turn up some pole vault points. The 4x800 seems very well positioned to score. Miller will also be competing in the 100 and 200, but not as the same kind of threat she is in the hurdle events. The 4x400 may score, but a repeat team title seems a distant hope coming into the state meet.
The Patriots have a better rounded team than they've had for a while, but they'll still need a huge day to stay with the big two. Darby Gilfillan has had a sensational season and should figure for points in at least the 1600 and 3200. Dior Hall has expanded beyond the 100 hurdles and will be seen at 100 and 200 meters as well. And probably a relay. What seemed like a given win at 100 hurdles before the season started, however, doesn't seem like nearly as much of a given as it did, however. On your short list of can't-miss events for state finals, make sure the 5A girls 100 meter hurdles is on that list. Room at the fence will be scarce, folks. Alexis Groces figures at 100 and 200 meters. And, count on a couple of snappy-fast sprint relays as well.
It's a close call between the Trojans and Denver East, but I'm inclined to give a tiny edge to Fountain-Fort Carson. The 5A girls high jump is another event that should be on your can't miss list. It's been a while since we've seen 5-10 or better out of a Colorado high schooler, but Rajon O'Quinn is capable of getting there, maybe even more so if pushed by Carly Paul. O'Quinn will also be very much present in a very tough 200-meter field and a very tough 400-meter field. Maybe a relay as well--most likely the 4x200. Octavia McFadden will be looking to help the cause in the 100 meter dash, as will Chasidy Horton in the 100 hurdles and long jump. Freshman Gina Coleman has been a pleasant surprise in the throws and should figure heavily in the points to be garnered there.