Last year, this league was all about Niwot, Mountain View, and Thompson Valley at the top. Will it be the same this year? Read on!
Niwot - Despite a major loss to graduation, it's tough to deny Niwot the top spot here. The Cougars have plenty coming back in Jenna McCaffrey, Emily Cranny, Niki Marshall, Kela Fetters, and Claire Gillett. That's a full five that ran under 20 minutes at least once last fall. And, these five aren't even guaranteed varsity slots. Jenna Edwards and Hannah Anderson should be pushing hard for spots in the scoring rotation. Right now, Niwot simply has more ways to hurt you than anyone else in the league.
Thompson Valley - The battle for #2 in the league gets tight--very tight. I'm giving the edge here to Thompson Valley on the basis of Matt Norton's long history of putting very competitive teams on the course--both in thicker and thinner years. The Eagles have some filling of holes lost to graduation to do, but they always seem to get it done. Team leaders, and the ones to set the tone early in the season, look to be Emily Leidig and Helena Ernst. It's time for these two to step up and write their own story.
Silver Creek - The Raptors could be becoming the new force in this league. Numbers at the top of the scoring order have been historically a little thin, but this situation seems to get better for Silver Creek with each passing year. Mikayla Gaffney is a star in a league teaming with stars. Maiya Jazwierska and Taylor Stinson appear to be ready to step up and deliver. Darah Gaffney and Sage Madden add depth. There are a lot of teams across the state that would love to come into the season as established as Silver Creek is.
Mountain View - I'll probably regret parking last year's state champions at #4 in their own league. But, that's just a reflection of how tough this league is. And, by no means is Mountain View out of contention for a higher finish in the order. The main thing Mountain View needs to get done is start making a success of life after Riley Cooney. Lauren Offerman becomes the apparent front runner. Rachel Franklin and McKenna Dellinger step into larger roles this year. If 4 and 5 come along again this year, lots of folks will once again be sweating bullets over Mountain View.
Centaurus - This is the only 4A league in the state in which Centaurus could possibly finish as low as fifth (and, among 5A leagues, probably only the Front Range would push the Warriors that low). The Warriors are a very good team and likely to be significantly better this fall than last. Lead off with the return of Maggie Moline and Olivia Rogers. Potentially, that is the best 1-2 in the league, though it's a lot early to be deciding that kind of honor in this league. Bring up a very competitive freshman prospect in Brooke Calvo, and a second in Helen Gover. If Meghan Davinroy and Sabrina Stern can take their races up just a single notch, Centaurus is going to be leaving lots of folks in their dust.
Longmont - The Trojans have been getting better every year since Kevin Akers became coach of this program. This year doesn't figure to be any different, it's just that climbing the rungs on this ladder becomes a little difficult when the folks above you keep stepping on your fingers. There is no easy path to the top around these parts. Cammy Manes hasn't run cross country before, but she didn't run track before this past spring, either. If she's out for cross country, Longmont gets one immediate and enormous boost. If healthy, Manes is potentially a top-five runner in this league, at least. Verena O'Malley returns to give Longmont a solid #2. Beyond that, development can't happen fast enough.
Greeley Central - The Wildcats will try to claw their way back to the glory that was theirs not so very long ago. Denisse Ojeda looks like the most likely one to lead the way.
Northridge - Kaitlyn Vasquez is the top returning runner here, and the only one with a sub-23 to her name. It looks like a building year for the Grizzlies.