Before you know it, the winter sports season will be in the books. State swimming for girls is just about three weeks off, with state wrestling hot on its heels. Basketball begins its final month of regular season this week, with postseason beginning late next month.

La Junta began last week ranked 19th in 3A girls swimming, with Aurora Baiardi ranked fifth in the 50 yard freestyle, eighth in the 100 free, and 13th in both 200 free and 500 free. La Junta is also 18th in the 200 yard medley and 19th in the 200 yard freestyle relay. Holyoke is 19th in the 400 free relay.

No local programs were ranked last week in girls wrestling, and none had individuals in the top four of the On The Mat rankings as compiled by Tim Yount. However, many have been gaining great experience against the competitors from the much larger schools that dominate the landscape. Lamar and Yuma continue to have great success in their events. Lamar took seventh in the Douglas County Tiara Challenge over the weekend, with Crystalyn Felan’s third place finish leading the way.

Wray entered last week ranked second in Class 2A, leading the pack of local programs. Rocky Ford (7th), Crowley County (9th), and Wiggins (10th) were also in the top ten of the team rankings.

Rocky Ford had two wrestlers atop their weight classes, according to On The Mat, with Dominic Gauna first at 106 and Joe Zamora at 132. Brady Collins was the only Wray wrestler leading his class, as he was just ahead of Byers’ Lain Yapoujian at 138. Hayden Burr from Sedgwick County/Fleming has established himself as the top guy at 160, while Pepper Rusher of Wiggins is just ahead of Akron’s Gavin Brown at 182. Akron’s Xavier Livesay is atop the field at 220, and Laith Ibrahim of Wiggins sits just in front of Wray’s Tel Wade at 285.

Brush just cracked the top ten in Class 3A, as the Beetdiggers were 10th in the last rankings. They are led by Dominick Ontiveros, who was second at 220. Casteus Combs was Sterling’s top representative, coming in second at 152, while La Junta’s top wrestler was Elijah Montalvan, who was third at 106.

Class 1A girls basketball continues to see the top ten dominated by eastern Colorado squads. Briggsdale and Fleming, who meet in Briggsdale this Saturday are the top two teams in the field, and the winner of their contest most likely locks up the North Central crown. They could also play for the title in District 4 next month, but Merino and Haxtun will also factor into that equation.

Despite it’s 53-48 loss to Fleming last Friday, Idalia remains one of the top challengers in District 5. Lone Star, who leads the YWKC chase, along with Stratton, and potentially Arickaree/Woodlin, will be fighting for regional spots.

As things stand today, McClave is the favorite in District 2, as the Cards already have a nice win over Kit Carson back in December in non-league play. They meet on Friday in a game that could determine the High Plains championship. Cheyenne Wells will be right there, along with Cheraw, and Wiley can’t be discounted.

The other district in the southeast portion of the state looks to be between Kim/Branson and South Baca, but Springfield will still be a factor in District 3. 

Looking at 2A girls, District 2 should be filled with slobber-knockers. Sedgwick County, Holyoke, Wray, and Yuma were all in the top ten last week, but Wray suffered losses to Idalia and Yuma during the week. Add in Akron, Wiggins, and Burlington (who lost to Wray by two and Yuma by three) and even game could go to the wire.

Limon is a heavy favorite in District 4, but Byers could be in line for a regional berth. Rye is also a heavy favorite, this time in District 6. Hoehne, Rocky Ford, and Swink look to be the top challengers to the T-bolts.

Brush is the top hope for local squads in the Patriot League, and the Beetdiggers enter the week off a 39-36 win at Burlington on Saturday. La Junta is 3-3 in the Tri-Peaks and Lamar is 2-3, both well back of leaders Vanguard and St. Mary’s.

Fort Morgan has yet to find traction in the 4A Longs Peak, where the Mustangs are 0-5. They are just 2-12 overall, and have lost four straight entering this week.

Flipping to boys basketball, Briggsdale has all but locked up the North Central title, and the top seed for District 4 in 1A, but a win over Fleming on Saturday would be big. The Falcons still have a match-up with Prairie in the final weekend of the regular season, along with a non-league clash against Haxtun next Tuesday, so while they are the favorite in the district, there will be no shortage of contenders. Merino will also be in the mix, along with Longmont Christian.

Stratton and Genoa-Hugo/Karval look to be the top dogs in District 5, and they just played a dandy on Saturday. Genoa-Hugo/Karval bounced back from tough losses to Byers and Burlington in Union Pacific play to beat the Eagles 61-55. Idalia is the top challenger from the YWKC, but Otis (who owns a non-league win over Idalia), Arickaree/Woodlin, and Hi-Plains will make for some exciting contests in the postseason.

Just when it looked like Cheyenne Wells would run away with the High Plains and maybe even District 2, the Tigers were upset by Wiley last week. Granada, who was already a favorite in both the league and district, become even bigger faves now. But, don’t write off Cheyenne Wells, Wiley, McClave, or Cheraw. 

Springfield and Kim/Branson will decide the Ark Valley in the final weekend of the regular season, and they will potentially meet again a week later for the District 3 crown.

As was the case with the girls, the 2A District 2 boys tournament should be a blast. Yuma, Wray, and Holyoke have all spent time ranked, with Yuma currently the #1 team in the class. Sedgwick County, Wiggins, and Akron all have the ability to scare one of the top three, and even Burlington is starting to play much better than earlier in the season.

District 6 will be a difficult one, with Fowler and Crowley County currently the top contenders. However, Rye and Holly have the experience to peak in the postseason.

Limon and Byers are in the mix in District 4, but Denver Christian is the favorite after beating Limon earlier this month. Also, Lotus has outstanding athleticism, and could be a dark horse in the field. 

Sterling was ranked #1 in 3A boys last week, and the Tigers ride a nine-game winning streak into this week. They are tied with Resurrection Christian atop the Patriot, and Brush isn’t far behind. Things aren’t as strong for La Junta and Lamar in the Tri-Peaks, as they are both just outside of the cellar in that league.

Fort Morgan had been near the top of the 4A Longs Peak, but the Mustangs have dropped two straight and begin the week in the middle of the pack in that league. League match-ups with Berthoud and Mountain View this week will give them a chance to improve that standing.