Mountain Range's Autumn Gardner didn't get nearly the recognition she deserved last spring--for her high jumping or for her socks. Colorado Track XC file photo.
Loveland High School was a very good team last year, but they did lose a lot to graduation. While it's certainly important to their success this year that they show some improvement in standing from the rankings for individual events shown below, it's likely that this year, as it was last year, the Indians will be mostly loading up relays.
And that figures to confound any preseason analysis of 5A girls. But we'll do what we can.
Here's what a simple virtual meet scoring of the returners from last year's rankings in individual events looks like:
2012 CO HS F Outdoor Track Team Scores (Returners Only)
Calculated as of December 30, 2012
These rankings were calculated by scoring the rankings as a meet. We took the individual rankings only and scored them as a normal meet: 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1.
Athletes whose graduation years are unknown were left out of the list.
It doesn't take much figuring to see that George Washington has a few events spoken for even as the season starts and, if anyone is to unseat the Patriot favorites in those events, they're going to have to speak very loudly.
But the point of vulnerability for GW is in numbers. If GW doesn't get more point producers than Dior Hall, Chyna Ries, and ShaRay Nelson, any leg up they have on winning a state title must be considered a very tenuous thing. Besides Loveland, you must also consider that Cherry Creek, Grandview, Arapahoe, and Fossil Ridge, at least, are in the hunt. As we break things down by event, we'll start seeing a couple of other teams emerging as possibilities as well.
We'll start with distance events, simply because there's a lot to discuss here. You won't see Heather Bates in these rankings simply because she ran for Discovery Canyon last spring and so shows up on the 4A analysis. But you know enough of Heather Bates to know that she will figure into the 800 - 3200 meter point distributions if she's healthy at the state meet. You'll notice familiar names like Jordyn Colter, Devan Foster, Alaina Anderson, Rachael Chacko, and Erin Norton. This all figures to become very competitive before it's all said and done. There probably is no such thing as a clear and undisputed favorite at 800, 1600, or 3200 meters. Those events are out there to be won.
It's worth making the point right now that Fort Collins and Monarch don't necessarily figure to be hauling in that many distance points this spring. Track is not cross country. Depth is not nearly as determinative in track as in cross country. Any place below 9th at state is irrelevant in the team standings.
Suffice it to say that the ultimate distribution in distance points is probably more difficult to predict in the distance events for this spring than for any other event area. And that should help to keep the team race interesting right down to the wire.
In sprints, we've already mentioned Chyna Ries. If Dior Hall runs the open 200 at state, she has to be considered for big sprint points as well. But, let's also be quick to point out that Pine Creek's Alleandra Watt is the defending state champion at both 100 and 200 meters, and not simply because Ries and Hall opted out of finals at the state meet last May. Watt has wheels, big-time wheels. Stir in a little Zainab Sanni and you have a very interesting recipe at 100 meters. Maybe the best we've ever seen here in Colorado. You know the drill, don't blink.
At 400 meters Fossil Ridge's Rhianna Williams buried the state field last spring and goes into this spring as the presumptive favorite. A healthy Ana Holland, however, is quite capable of keeping this one interesting. There are a couple more not too far back. If Sarah Clough's first indoor outing (if that's not an oxymoron) just might suggest she's ready to mix it up with these two as well.
The 100 hurdles are the domain of Dior Hall if she's racing. About all that's left for Hall to accomplish in the high school ranks is to set the US#1 all-time high school mark for this event. There aren't many other records in this event she doesn't already hold. ThunderRidge's Erin Bowers is a legitimate 14.52 in this event which, in most times and places ranks as a pretty good mark, but doesn't really keep her in the race with Hall.
It's more competitive and 300 meters. Here Bowers figures to mix it up with ShaRay Nelson, Carly Lester (Rocky Mountain) and Hailey DeVries (Arapahoe). As they say on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, this race is too close to call.
Chances are we're going to have to learn some tough name pronunciations in the throwing events. Grandview's Adaeze Obinnah and Fort Collins's Josephine Natrasevschi have the top returning marks in the shot put and discus, respectively. Obinnah's lead in the shot put looks rather prohibitive at this point, but the discus is wide, wide open to any upwardly mobile throwers with some solid credentials to start the season. With 128-9 being the top returning mark from last spring, there's a bit of a vacuum for nature to abhor in this event.
Until someone demonstrates otherwise, the long jump is the sole dominion of Chyna Ries. But there are still of bunch of points to be settled behind Ries. Grandview, Loveland, and Fossil Ridge--among those already deemed clear contenders--have a stake in those points.
Coming out of last season, the triple jump lead is essentially a dead heat between Hall, Fossil Ridge's Koree Willer and Lindsay Read, and Regis Jesuit's Kelsey Cunningham. At the end of the day, this event has the potential to be highly determinative in the state title chase.
Three high jumpers returning from last year with outstanding marks include Mountain Range's Autumn Gardner, Poudre's Carly Paul, and Heritage's Courtney Bartusiak.
And, if you recall the 29.5 pole vault points Lakewood threw on the state field last spring, those points are coming back in the form of Lauren Santi, Lauren Brunsdale, Mikeala Lodl, and McKenzie Patarino. Without a couple of Brogan sisters to exercise a little opportunism on those starter points, however, Lakewood doesn't figure to be able to make the same kind of title run they made last spring. But, Lakewood is still a bad team to go to sleep on.
Reading between the lines. If there are two teams not already mentioned that seem to have the pieces to put together title runs should things fall in the right direction, those teams would be Regis Jesuit and Pine Creek. Both have some top end talent and enough of a recent history of producing some individuals who can also score the nickel and dime kind of points that it's not difficult to see either of these two teams making a serious run.
And, so, the 5A girls race starts the season with the appearance of one well worth the effort of following through to its conclusion. Stay tuned for later developments.