After years of being the younger element of Mountain Vista's varsity roster, Delaney Fitzsimmons becomes the ranking senior this fall. Photo by Paul Jaeger.
With the addition of a Colorado Springs member, 5A Region 5 lost one of its Douglas County members in the regional realignments last fall. Coronado has moved up to 5A, owing mostly to the closure of Wasson High School, and joins 5A Region 5, while Legend has departed the ranks of the region.
The top team in the region for the past couple of years has been Pine Creek. The Eagles are still a formidable foe, but the graduation of the Sered sisters won't be an easy hole to plug. Kaleigh and Devon Kroeker return, as do Natalie Kalin and Calyssa Trautner. And the name of sophomore-to-be Madeline Alhamra should stir a connection or two in your mind. Part of the intrigue of this team, however, is the fact that neither Kalin nor Alhamra ran track this spring. So, there's much guesswork to be done on precisely how good this team will be this fall. We all, I suppose, have our guesses, but give the season a month or so to revise any early hunches. By the time Pine Creek travels out to Rim Rock at the end of September, we should have a very good picture of how competitive this team will be.
There are probably fewer question marks where Mountain Vista is concerned. The Golden Eagles were very young last year and bring back the heart of last year's team--only a year older and wiser. That would include four sub-20s in Madison Easton, Abby Suntken, Delaney Fitzsimmons, and Courtney Goodrum. They also bring up at least one impact freshman in Allie Chipman, winner of last year's middle school individual state title. Mountain Vista's girls struggled a little at last year's state meet, but this year's team figures to have a different plan in mind. Keep a very close eye on how things go for this team.
Castle View is yet another team of special interest in this region. The 1-2 of Calysta McKinney and Savanna Dalton is arguably the best in the region. Kylie Johnson's track season ended a little early, but not before she showed signs of promise of being the next Sabercat to step up. Melissa Anderson is another individual Castle View will look to. The most evident need for Castle View, however, is depth. If you don't go strong at least five deep, this is a tough region to be in.
Coronado's position is similar to Castle View's. The 1-2 of Gabrielle Roth and Olivia Babeu is solid. But senior-to-be Jessica Bieda is the only other one on the roster who has run sub-21. Taylor Dutton may be a name worth keeping an eye out for as she moves into Coronado's freshman class this fall.
It's tempting to call Rock Canyon the sleeper of the region, but to call them that would be to ignore what they did at the end of last season. Graduation took its toll, but there is a strong nucleus coming back nevertheless. The Jaguars may be the most balanced team, 1-7, in the entire region. Mackenna Balman and Chloe Arbuckle are both proven sub-20s, but seniors-to-be Nicole Jordan, Kendall Smith, and Lindsey Hulett each got close enough to sniff it last fall. This team has experience, has speed, and has depth. They also have some pretty decent coaching. Rock Canyon is a dangerous team and should be on your short list of teams capable of winning this region. We do need to note, however, that Mackenna Balman had a very abbreviated track season this spring. Her return to full strength this fall will be a matter of some importance for the Jaguars.
Douglas Country and Rampart have individual standouts in Solana Quistorff and Thea Ramsey but are still working on putting the pieces together that could earn their teams state-qualifying bids in October. Chaparral, Palmer, and Doherty harbor more distant hopes of qualifying teams for state.