A big part of the Mountain Vista leadership this season falls to senior Tyler Matzke. Colorado Track XC file photo by Alan Versaw.
If ever there was a year that Mountain Vista would seem vulnerable, this would be that year. Notables such as Connor Weaver and Andrew Walton have graduated and gone on. But try to resist any temptation to think this is going to be easy. There really isn't much that's suspect about the roster that Coach Jonathan Dalby inherits this fall. Senior Tyler Matzke and junior Paxton Smith lead the charge. Both are deep in varsity experience. Both seem ready for the role. And, if you ever ran against Mountain Vista's JV last fall, you know already that guys like Trevor Spieker, Alex Fu, Ryan Currie, Josh Romine, and Michael O'Sullivan held their own very well. The transition from last year's edition of the team to this year's show go pretty seamlessly. In this case, the old adage about knowing your enemy means there's a whole lot to get to know.
But, let's be clear about the fact that there are other solid teams in this region. Not far from Mountain Vista High School is Chaparral. Dominic Compoz is a senior this fall and should be fully ready to lead this team into the fray. Alex Hebner and Devin Reasoner seem well-established at the second and third positions. But, if Chaparral means to take it to Mountain Vista, the gaps--and especially the gaps at #4 and 5--must close down. The story of Chap's season likely comes down to how they develop at the last two scoring positions.
The Castle View story line reads similarly. There aren't many questions up front where Forrest Barton and Jesse Freeman are concerned. The questions center more around where that 10-mid group in track (Dylan Jaure, Jackson Encinias, and Dalton Bean) take their race to in the fall. If these three step up strong, Castle View will be a load to handle.
Still in the Douglas County School District, Rock Canyon leads with Jacob Blackburn. But, the Jaguars struggled a little at 3200 meters this spring in track. Things went a little better at 1600 meters, so we'll hope for Coach Davies and his crew that the 16, and not the 32, was the point of emphasis in track this spring. In any case, the roster for Rock Canyon is a little on the side of young, meaning there's reason to hope for a big spring-to-fall kind of progression. When it comes time to battle for a state-qualifying berth, this team should be in the mix.
In this region that divides between Douglas County and El Paso County schools, Douglas County seems to hold the upper hand, but there is also a few El Paso County schools that will have some say in who goes to state and who does not.
Palmer has quietly put togher the best team on paper heading into the fall campaign. You won't find a lot of high-recognition names on the roster, but Will Brown and Dominic Walker had solid seasons both fall and spring last school year. Aaron Rickey returns the top time in cross country but did not appear in track in the spring.
Rampart returns an ace in Ben Dingman, but the Rams need a bigger front flock than they had last fall if they mean to earn a state position. Doherty falls in behind Colton James-Wells and Tanner Palacios and will be looking for depth to fill out the scoring order. Coronado has been rocked by back-to-back years of serious graduation and may be facing a rebuilding year, though Adam Egger is plenty solid as the front man. Michel Swanson showed some promise for the Cougars this spring. Pine Creek's ranks were thinned by both graduation and the transfer of Tanner Palacios to Doherty, but the Eagles have the guy to beat in Zachary Alhamra. Liberty will look to develop behind Jack Quinn and Cameron Rathmell. Fountain-Fort Carson returns a formidable lead pair in Dylan Day and Philip Benjamin Thomas. With a couple of people stepping up strongly, any of these teams could become a serious factor in the region in a hurry.
Top to bottom, this is probably the toughest region in the state. There are no moribund programs in this region.