Author's note: This is the fourth, and final, installment in a series of following-the-state-meet articles. I will not have time to write one for any more of the classifications and genders. Each one of these takes a while to write, and I'm rapidly running out of time.
In what follows, we will take you chronologically through the 2A Boys state meet, discussing each of the events and many of the athletes who figure to play prominent roles in determining this year's team state title.
The major team contenders are Lyons, Cedaredge, and Resurrection Christian. That doesn't mean it's impossible for any other team to win it, just that any reasonably objective analysis is going to land on these three teams as the primary contenders. And, even among these three, Resurrection needs things to go particularly well for them to have a hope of keeping pace with Lyons and Cedaredge. And so, these three teams will be the focus--though not exclusively so--of this article.
Pole Vault - Opening event honors for 2A Boys splits between pole vault and discus. Since Cedaredge and Resurrection don't pole vault, Lyons has this one more or less to themselves where team title point battles are concerned. Owen George enters with a 13-2 seed. It's a bit of a reach, but not an impossibility, to think he wins this. More like he settles into third or fourth-place points.
Discus - Austin Williams' discus hasn't been quite as sharp as last spring, but the Cedaredge thrower still comes in as the #2 seed. Cedaredge needs those points, and a move to first is a possibility, but so also is a move to third. Watch this one closely. Anton Watson tries to find a couple points for Resurrection here as well. For Lyons, throws just haven't been very productive lately.
100 Meter Prelims - It's important, but it should be easy, for Tullef Rudlong, Isaac Swoffer, and Cooper Ward to advance to finals. The one to watch here is Cedaredge's Xander Camp. Camp is very much on the 100 meter bubble and it would be a nice start to the track portion of the meet for Cedaredge if he moves forward into finals for the Bruins. Ty Grant of Cedaredge and Dakota Murrow of Resurrection also figure here as possibilities to advance.
Triple Jump - Believe it or not, none of the presumed top three teams has an entry in this event. So, you can contentedly watch the triple jumpers to their think without thinking, "I wonder what implications this has for the team title race?"
4x200 Meter Relay Prelims - This event should be a centerpiece of the Cedaredge and Resurrection state meet plans, and maybe only slightly less important for Lyons. Seed times say it should be an easy advance for all three teams, but you still have to get the stick around the track two times.
110 Meter Hurdles Prelims - It's only prelims, but there's a lot potentially at stake here for Cedaredge and Lyons. Either goes to a position of disadvantage if their hurdlers don't make it through. That would be Zach Christiansen of Lyons, and Logan Cronebaugh and Shane Gates of Cedaredge. Interestingly, they're all in the same heat, which does slightly increase the odds that they will not all get through to finals.
4x800 Meter Relay - Resurrection is in the field, but probably on the outside looking in where points are concerned. Any points earned here figures as a bonus for the Cougars. Cedaredge and Lyons, on the other hand, come in as the top two seeds. It may not be as simple as that, however. Assuming Lyons four events Paul Roberts, they must choose between using him on the 4x400 and using him here. Honestly, as I see things, Lyons has more to lose by not using Roberts on the 4x800 than by not using him on the 4x400. But, show up and see what happens. If Cedaredge takes a win here, it could easily turn into a psychological turning point for both teams.
200 Meter Prelims - Evidently, Cedaredge watched what Lutheran did last year and said, "Two can play that game." Cedaredge has five entries in the 200 meter prelims and it's conceivable (though perhaps not likely) all five advance to finals. Your program should read Ty Grant, Jacob Robb, Xander Camp, Isaac Swoffer, and Bryce Klaseen. It is interesting to see that Cedaredge has chose to compete against themselves a little in this event. Lyons, of course, is represented by Tullef Rudlong and Resurrection by Cooper Ward and Dakota Murrow. On the wild chance that all eight advance to finals, the state title could be decided squarely on the 200 on Saturday.
3200 Meters - It kind of goes without saying that this event is a big part of Lyons' state title hopes. It's even possible that Roberts, Joel Such, and Matt Dillon go 1-2-3 in this event, though Corey Lewenkamp and Jack Plantz will be trying very hard to make sure that doesn't happen. It's doubtful anyone else in the field can break up the sweep, though. Cedaredge and Resurrection get to stand at the fence and hope Lyons can't quite pull all 25 possible points out of this event.
400 Meter Prelims - If it's any consolation to Cedaredge and Resurrection after the 3200, Lyons gets to sit this one out. If all goes according to seeds, or even close to according to seeds, Resurrection advances Evan Anderson and Cedaredge advances Bryce Klaseen and Ryan Latta to finals. Cedaredge's Jacob Robb positions on the bubble. Watch to see whether he makes it to finals or not.
Shot Put - Kind of like the discus, this is a major point of strength for Austin Williams and Cedaredge. If Williams throws anything close to the 57 feet he threw last week, 10 points go into the Cedaredge column. And those will be the only points scored by any of the top contending teams.
4x100 Meter Relay Prelims - This should be a big event for each of the big three, but placing (so long as it advances to finals) won't be critical for any of the three until Saturday.
300 Meter Hurdles Prelims - This was a big event for Resurrection last year, but they bring nobody to the start line this year. Cedaredge leads strong with Shane Gates. Lyons doubles up with Ryan Smith and Zach Christiansen. It seems reasonable that all three advance to finals even if they do run in the same heat on Friday. Smith would be most on the bubble. Logan Cronebaugh of Cedaredge is the most outside of hopes to advance to finals, but it shall lift some local spirits (and daunt some others not so local) if he does.
800 Meters - The top two seed times, by quite a bit, belong to Evan Anderson of Resurrection and Paul Roberts of Lyons. Lyons can't afford to take a beating here if Roberts is going to run it, but they don't have to win it, either. Resurrection comes a lot closer to needing the win here. Cedaredge wants to meet or exceed their seed with Brendon Klaseen at #6. Moving up more than one notch will be a tall order, though.
4x200 Meter Relay Finals - As strong as each of the three teams are in this event, there may be some psychological baggage (both good and bad) going with the order of placement here. Because Resurrection comes in at a little bit of a disadvantage to both Lyons and Cedaredge, a win here is perhaps biggest for the school from Loveland. But, the Cedaredge universe this year seems to be in orbit around the 200 meters, so don't mistake how big this one could be for them as well.
4x400 Meter Relay Prelims - Realistically, all three teams advance out of this one, but if Paul Roberts isn't involved with this for Lyons, their margin probably does become a little slimmer. The Lions definitely do not want to be left out of the last event of the meet.
High Jump - The last day of state starts early for the 2A boys in the high jump. At 5-10, though, Ryan Smith of Lyons is the only entry from any of the big three. Smith projects as an outside hope to score in the event. If he does, it's definitely a bonus for Lyons, but it won't be a case of bleeding points if he doesn't.
110 Meter Hurdles Finals - This is a great event for Cedaredge to open the final day of state with a big statement. Ivan Mendoza of West Grand probably wins, but Shane Gates and Logan Cronebaugh give Cedaredge a huge opportunity to put a little surge into their point total. Ideally for Lyons, Zach Christiansen keeps the score gap with Cedaredge to a minimum.
100 Meter Dash Finals - This should be fun, and all the more so if Swoffer, Ward, and Rudlong get adjacent lanes. This could be the best head-to-head between all three teams of the entire day. Order of finish here will be significant and should provide a nice piece of momentum for the top team. If any of the bubble guys advance, their are precious points to be earned for their teams as well.
Long Jump - Cedaredge has, by far, the most at stake here. Lyons has Owen George entered and Resurrection has Luke Fick entered, but neither is more than a long shot for points. Swoffer and Gates, on the other hand, give Cedaredge a great opportunity to pile up some points in the pits. Probably neither comes away an event winner, but both have solid potential to exceed their seeds.
400 Meter Dash Finals - Assuming Evan Anderson makes finals, second is his most likely spot to finish. It's a major coup for Cedaredge if any of their three entries can slip past Anderson. Lyons stares from over the fence, calculating points as soon as the race is complete.
200 Meter Dash Finals - As much as Cedaredge has invested in this race, it's a devastating blow if they don't come out of this race with big points. They probably can't dominate it the way Lutheran did last spring, but they can make or break their state meet on this single event. Lyons, of course, hopes for a nice number from Rudlong, and Resurrection hopes for a nice combined number from Ward and Murrow.
300 Meter Hurdles Finals - This is the last in a run of five consecutive track events that Cedaredge needs to do well in to come out on top. There could be some impromptu dancing in the stands if the first four go at least to seeds and Gates wins this one. But, Lyons will still be aiming to outscore Gates in the final.
1600 Meters - You already know, this one has "Lyons" written all over it. It's difficult to imagine Paul Roberts not winning this one, but the more telling story in the team title picture will be where Such (#4 seed) and Dillon (#8 seed) finish. You know Lyons believes they can improve on seeds in this one, but it's potentially crushing to title hopes if they fall behind seeds. Resurrection and Cedaredge get to watch--mostly helplessly. Resurrection freshman Christian Fagerlin is the #18 seed and figures to be mostly gaining big meet experience for future efforts in this one.
4x100 Meter Relay and 4x400 Meter Relay - The day ends with two relays that all three top schools should be competing in. All you can say about this is it's exactly how you might hope that meet would end. Everyone is dead-dog tired, but they have to step on the track for two more relays--and several guys will have to step on the track twice. Before this point in time, some decisions will have to have been made about event assignments. It's the kind of point in time where you can easily second guess earlier decisions. Here's hoping for a grand finish, with all three teams reaching to the very last vapors in the tank.