It’s time for another in-depth exploration. This time, we’ll delve into the doings of 4A Boys. Last week, of course, we explored the current state of 2A Girls. It’s possible I circle back to either or both of these classification-and-gender combinations as state draws closer, but it’s hard to say now whether there will be time and need to do that. For now, you get my best shot at reading the 4A Boys situation.
FEATURE PHOTO PROVIDED BY WARRIOR WILD WEST EVENT
Before going any further, you may want to get your scuba gear. We’re going to be under water for a while here.
This time around, I’ll start on the Western Slope and work my way, generally speaking, eastward.
There are three teams on the Western Slope we want to take a closer look at. We’ll start in the southwest corner of the state with Durango. It’s always hard to get a good early read on Durango, because we don’t often see them against other 4A programs. But, be assured Durango is assembling another strong team this spring.
The Achilles heel for the Demons this year, however, may be that they don’t spread out across the spectrum of events as well this year as they have in some previous years. This year, it’s chiefly about distance and throws.
The throws, between William Knight and Joshua Bates, have been outstanding. Currently, Knight holds down the #2 ranking in the 4A shot put and the #3 ranking in the distance. Bates is positioned nicely to add points in the shot put.
Durango is flying under the radar right now in distance events, having run most of their meets at substantial altitude. So far as state-scoring potential goes, it comes down to Damian Frausto and Land Lambert. Frausto is settling in at 800 and 1600 meters, with Lambert at 1600 and 3200 meters. The pair barely appear in the 4A statewide rankings at this point, but they’re way more dangerous than the rankings indicate. Sometimes you just have to be patient and know how to read the rankings—this is one of those times.
Elsewhere, the Demons’ biggest hope lies in the relays. Durango currently has the #5 ranked 4×200 and 4×400 teams. And, if you were paying attention to the discussion above about altitude and distance events, you know better than to write off their 4×800 team.
Altogether, it’s not yet a lot on which to base strong hopes of a state title, but it is enough to keep Durango on the radar screen.
While I’m talking about Durango, I’ll put in a shameless plug for photos. If you’re from Durango, are good with a camera, and would like to share an image for a cover photo sometime this season, please send that image to Kevin Shaffer at the email address at the bottom of the page. Or, DM me on Twitter.
Next up, we’ll consider the case of Central Grand Junction.
In the sprints, Central has Justin Blanton. Blanton ranks 2, 3, and 4 in the 100, 200, and 400, respectively. He also totes the baton on relays. CGJ has nicely ranked teams in the 4×100 and 4×400. My hunch is that Blanton goes 100, 200, 400, and 4×100 at state. CGJ’s ranked 4×400 didn’t use Blanton to post their time. Regardless, Blanton gives the Warriors a very nice presence in the sprint events.
Central is mostly known for distance, and the Warriors are very, very deep this year. Some of the evidence of that comes in the form of their #2 ranked 4×800 team. The trouble here for Central is that 4A distance is extremely deep in individuals this year and all of Central’s top distance types—guys like Shalom Trowbridge, Tyler Stogsdill, Jackson Edwards, and Jordan Leblow (and I’ve not exhausted the list) are on the cusp of scoring state points. They’re not the guys you would expect to lean on for 7, 8, or 10 points.
In short, if the Warriors mean to make a serious state title run, the distance troupe will have to run above their heads a little and come up huge at state. It is about that simple.
Also contributing to the pile of points for Central is thrower Daniel Baroumbaye. Baroumbaye currently checks in just outside of points in the shot put and at #4 in the discus. Baroumbaye, too, will need to come up big for CGJ to make a title run.
The last Western Slope team we’ll take a closer look at is Battle Mountain. Battle Mountain probably has the most-viewed track and field facility in the state, but that’s not why they’re on this list.
The Huskies are on this list because: Sullivan Middaugh is currently ranked #2 in the 1600 and #8 in the 3200, TJ Nixon is currently ranked #1 in the high jump (though we allow that the high jump can be a fickle event), Patrick Friery holds down a #7 ranking in the pole vault, and Roshawn Reid checks in at #4 in the triple jump. Like the other Western Slope teams, Battle Mountain needs a perfect storm at state to make a run at a state title, but there are enough pieces there to at least entertain the thought.
It would help immensely if the Huskies are able to wedge in some relay points at state, but that prospect isn’t yet showing up on the radar screen.
There’s a massive list of east-of-the-Continental-Divide teams we need to consider.
Taking their place among those teams is Air Academy. The Kadets have a long history of good boys’ track and field teams but no history at the top of the pile. There is some reason to wonder if that all could change this spring. Hope springs eternal, and that sort of thing, but this team does have more event-winning potential than the Kadets have seen in a long while (like, think back to the Devin Latimer or Ian Burrell eras).
Simeon Whitaker owns the rankings at 100 and 200 meters, and not by just a little bit. If you’re looking for early favorites in these two events, Whitaker is your guy. Whitaker also ranks #7 in the 400, but the Kadets could choose to employ his talents elsewhere unless that ranking takes a climb. Teammate Keegan Bennett ranks #8 in the 400.
Kyle Demos currently owns the #2 ranking in the discus. If he can hold that position, those points would be huge at state. There’s also some outside potential for shot put points for the Kadets.
Relays, however, figure to be the key for the Kadets. A current #1 ranking in the 4×100 is one reason to be hopeful on the front. The Kadets also own the current #3 ranking in the 4×400. It’s not at all unthinkable to picture the Kadets cobbling together a scoring 4×800 team. And, if you have #1-ranked 4×100, it’s not that much of a reach to start thinking 4×200 as well. A key consideration there, however, becomes the four-event limit for Whitaker. Presumably, Whitaker is part of AA’s 4×400 hopes.
All the way at the other end of Colorado Springs from Air Academy is Widefield. Widefield has an impressive team as well. Chiefly, the Gladiators have Dallen Booker and Derek Allen. That doesn’t sound like a lot until you start checking out their rankings.
Booker ranks #4 in the 100, #2 in the 200, and #3 in the triple jump. Allen owns the #1 ranking in the 110 hurdles, the #2 ranking in the 300 hurdles, and the #6 ranking at 200 meters. I’m guessing both have a part in Widefield’s #3-ranked 4×200.
In case you don’t have the picture yet, the talent is remarkably well distributed in 4A Boys this year. There’s a reason I’m talking about so many different teams—and I’m not nearly through the list yet.
Before we leave the Colorado Springs area, let’s talk about Cheyenne Mountain.
After cross country season, Cheyenne Mountain figured to be the scourge of 4A distance this spring. Thus far, that situation has not materialized, at least not to the expected degree.
There is a whole bunch of us waiting for the other shoe to drop, but, currently, Cheyenne Mountain’s share of top-10 marks in the distance events is limited to a #1 in the 4×800, a #5 for Enzo Knapp in the 800, and a #4 for Knox Exton in the 1600. It’s way too soon to say things are going to stay this way, though. So, we wait and see. And we remind ourselves that a #10 at state is a huge lift for your team in cross country but does nothing for your team at state track. Track and cross country are profoundly different that way.
Elsewhere, for the Red-tailed Hawks, Joseph Kirwan takes up the #10 spot at 400 meters, Antoni Smith is currently all alone at #2 in the high jump, Braxton Walk occupies #4 in the long jump, and Cheyenne Mountain has the #4 ranked 4×400.
Altogether, that’s a good team, even as things stand now, but the key to a possible state title lies with the distance events. Stay tuned.
Let’s travel north up I-25 for a while now, making a quick stop at Palmer Ridge along the way.
The Bears are getting by just fine, at least in the field events. But, can you win a state title on (almost) entirely field events? Well…
Here’s the case for Palmer Ridge: Elijah Inama is part of a massive tie at #3 in the 4A high jump. Clearly, that could go very well or very poorly for PR. Inama is also at #2 in the long jump, and nipping at the very heels of #1. KC Fackerell lurks at #9 in the LJ. Alec Falk sits at #6 in the shot put and #1 in the discus. Ethan Thomas and Caleb Dall hold down #8 and #9 in the discus.
In terms of relays, Palmer Ridge appears only with a #4 in the 4×800. It’s an intriguing team. We’ll see what they can put together at state.
Niwot is a team of great and enduring interest. Can the Cougars pull together a state title?
Like Cheyenne Mountain, a lot of the answer to than question depends on the distance events. At this point in the season, a lot of question marks surround Zane Bergen. Will he go long, or will he go short? Early results argue for short. Bergen currently holds the #3 ranking in both the 400 and 800. He doesn’t show at either 1600 or 3200 meters, but I have a lot of company in believing that situation won’t last through the season.
Niwot’s current list of top-10s in the 1600 and 3200 is limited to Joey Hendershot at #9 in the 3200. Ruminate on that situation for a while. Then, make sense of it—if you can.
It’s almost as if Niwot and Cheyenne Mountain are playing a game of chicken to see who can wait longer to show up in the distance events. I’m not at all certain that’s what is at play here, but the thought has crossed my mind.
Meanwhile, Niwot has a lot of other talent putting numbers on the board.
Ben Classen owns the #9 time in the 400. Nicholas Stade owns the #9 time in the 110 hurdles and the #3 time in the 400 hurdles. Eric Walker checks in at #6 in the 300s and #5 in the triple jump. Stade reappears at #7 in the triple jump. The Cougars go #7 in the 4×100, #1 in the 4×200, #1 in the 4×400, and #7 in the 4×800.
If you’re hoping to beat Niwot this spring, you have to be very concerned about those relay numbers.
You don’t have to travel very far from Niwot, however, to find some other contenders of note.
Longmont has been quietly piling up rankings of their own. For a long time, Niwot lived in Longmont’s shadow. Then, Longmont lived in Niwot’s shadow. It may be that the worm is starting to turn again.
Connor McCormick currently sits at #6 in the 400 rankings. Count me among the people who don’t believe he’s going to run that event at state, but it probably leaves a few people unsettled that he’s there, and that could be part of the purpose of it all. More to the point, McCormick tops the 800 rankings with a blistering 1:53, and we’re all waiting for the meet when McCormick unleashes his 1600 as he did in Arizona a few days ago. McCormick current occupies the #2 position in the 3200 as well.
Meanwhile, McCormick’s teammates are all over the distance rankings. Dominic Warner and Andreas O’Malley are 6-7 in the 800. Warner and O’Malley go 3-6 in the 3200.
Note the collective absence from the 1600. It would appear to be about time for LHS to stage a 1600-qualifying party.
In the hurdles, Elijah Quinby is #10 in the 110s and #4 in the 300s. Caleb Johnson has found a home at the #2 slot in the triple jump.
So far, the Trojans have no presence in the relays. Should that situation continue, it could be a very large handicap to overcome.
Before leaving the St. Vrain Valley School District, we’ll make a stop at Mead. Mead, as you probably know, is the Mavericks. By definition, however, a maverick is an unbranded calf. That all leads to an important question—why does Mead wear their name on their uniforms? That troubling question aside, Mead has speed. You’ll recall this isn’t the first time Mead has had speed, but it’s back again this year.
Tavon Underwood has the #3 ranking at 100 meters, #4 at 200 meters, and #2 at 400 meters. That should get your attention.
Now that your attention is tuned, we’ll also point out that Quin Dukes is at #2 in the pole vault and is demonstrating the consistency needed to stay there. Tyler Mayer owns a #5 in the long jump, and the 4×800 has the #9 slot.
Altogether, it’s not a lot on which to base a state title run, but the Mavericks can hope for an extra contributor or two to put in a showing before the season is complete.
Continuing on our northward journey, we stop next in Loveland. Mountain View doesn’t have the best depth in the world, but they have the high-end talent needed to make a very serious run at a state title, and particularly so in a year where the talent is spread as evenly as it is this year.
Bennett Feldenkirchen is MV’s ace hurdler. He owns the #4 110 hurdles mark and the #1 300 hurdles mark. It’s easy for a hurdles race to go south on you in a hurry, but Feldenkirchen gives Mountain View plenty of reason for optimistic views of their state chances.
Also weighing heavily in the Mountain View equation is distance runner Jackson Shorten. Shorten may be the all-around best distance runner in the state, but there’s currently plenty of competition for that crown. He’s currently ranked #2 in the 800, #1 in the 1600, and #1 in the 3200. As things stand now, it’s difficult to improve much on that.
Adding to the prospects for MV is Brayden Hutchinson at #8 in the shot put, plus a #10 ranked 4×400.
Across I-25, but in a different school district, from Mountain View is Roosevelt High School. The Riders have their own case to make. Bear with me while I provide the details of yet another case. Like Palmer Ridge, Roosevelt’s case leans heavily on field events, though not quite as exclusively so as at PR.
Jaden Casanueva owns the #8 ranking in the 300 hurdles. Bowie Schmitz and Xander Checketts are part of a logjam at #8 in the high jump. Tucker Peterson holds down #3 in the long jump, while Andrew Masch checks in at #7. In the triple jump, Peterson, Masch, and Keaton Kaiser go 1-6-10. CJ Masch is just a little back—as if more triple jump reinforcements were needed.
Just wondering, but have they considered naming the triple jump sand at Roosevelt High School the Masch Pit? I would have jumped on that possibility in a hurry, but not everyone has the same troubled mind that I enjoy.
Throws don’t appear to be a source of state meet points for Roosevelt, but relays do. At this stage, Roosevelt has a #2 ranking in the 4×100, a #6 ranking in the 4×200, and a #2 ranking in the 4×400. As relay equations go, this one is more loaded than most. So far, Roosevelt has not made any serious runs at potential state points in the 4×800.
All told, however, Roosevelt could become a serious problem at state.
If you are not looking forward to watching the 4A Boys title race develop at state, you need to go find another sport to go roll in the mud with.
And, you can now put your scuba gear back on the shelf. We have resurfaced. Besides, you wouldn’t want to roll around in the mud in your scuba gear.
Self Fact Checking: In the previous article, I remarked that Ashton Whisler of Erie was nearing to 50-second barrier at 400 meters. That much was, and remains, true. But, in the next sentence, I wrote that would give Erie two guys under 50 seconds in the 400. There, I was wrong. I was crossing up Erie and Mead in my mind. Mead has one guy already under 50 (Underwood) and Erie has one guy nearing 50 (Whisler). My apologies for the confusion there.