There a couple sure signs to spring in Fort Collins.
One is snow on the ground, causing massive rescheduling of high school sports. Check.
Another is the emergence of local high school track and field stars, ready to take over the state meet. Check.
As usual, local high schools are loaded with track and field stars, setting up another exciting season.
Here’s a school-by-school look at the local talent.
As usual, the Lambkins hope to contend for conference and state titles.
The boys have, among others, experienced returners in Cameron Dimas, Blake Salvador, Joe Krafsur and Jake Rudel. There’s also a group of talented freshman who will have an impact this season.
The Fort Collins girls return a load of talent from a team that won the Front Range League for the second year in a row and finished second at state. Becca Schulte, a Vanderbilt signee, won the 400-meter and was second in the 200.
Lauren Gregory won a state title in the 3,200-meter run, was second in the 1,600 and third in the 800. The versatile Audra Koopman is a threat to finish at the top in both the 100 and the long jump. Jasmine Chesson is a strong sprinter, and Emma Dern is good in the throws.
Both Lambkins squads look ready for strong seasons.
Athlete of the Week
If you know a deserving high school athlete from Northern Colorado, nominate them for Athlete of the Week consideration at Coloradoan.com/athleteofweek. Winners are selected Monday afternoon for accomplishments the previous week.
The Fossil Ridge boys finished fifth in the FRL and are hoping to have some athletes get to state. Some key athletes to watch for are Keaton Schelir, Jarred Brannen, Avery Lux, Brandon Kryzykowski and Levi Volk.
The girls finished second in the FRL and return several talented athletes, headlined by Chloë Woest. The senior took second at state in the pole vault last year and is also a talented hurdler. Promise Butler is a talented sprinter. Other key athletes are Mallory Kellum, Tanner Robinson, Sarah Eastwood and Tiana Noble.
Loaded on talent, Heritage Christian is always in the 1A team title mix. The Eagles won the title easily on the boys side last year and were fourth in girls.
The boys return lots of key performers. Luke Gilliland took second in both the 1,600-meter and 3,200 and fifth in the 800 at state. Jeff Stellingwerf was third in long jump and sixth in the 400. Caleb Wickstrom was third in high jump and seventh in triple jump. Jason Richard, Isaiah Bowsher and Luke Friedrich all bring tons of state experience as well as the Eagles look to repeat.
Likewise, the girls return a lot of talent to make another run at a state title. Rebekah Rairdon won the 300-meter hurdles and was top three in all three distance races. Rachel Rairdon had two second place finishes and four in the top six. Annie Weaver, Olivia Couch, Leeann Wagner and Megan Wagner give the Eagles a lot of depth.
The Eagles finished third in the Mile High League last year on both the boys and girls side.
Corbin Mayes is the only returning boys state qualifier after making it in pole vault. He will look to reach the podium this year. Other athletes to watch are Ben Kuppinger (sprints), Kyle Gee (mid-distance), Nathan Dowdy (distance) and Christopher Martinez (distance).
On the girls side, Mady Allen is the school record-holder in discus and will look for another strong performance. Elizabeth Martinez, Christopher’s younger sister, is a strong middle distance runner.
Both teams are young, but there’s a good amount of depth for Liberty Common.
The Impalas boys graduated their most experienced state competitors but still return plenty of talent. Austin Ray competed in the shot put at state last year as a sophomore. Henry Raymond is a talented distance runner.
On the girls side, Luna Slater is back after a strong freshman season. Mia Moret returns after taking seventh at state in pole vault a year ago, and Emily Tomasini is back after making state in for discus.
The Resurrection Christian boys team is an emerging force in 2A, finishing third at state last year.
Cooper Ward is back after winning the 200-meter and placing fourth in the 100. Evan Anderson returns after second place finishes in the 400 and 800. Christian Fagerlin made state in the 800 and 1,600 and Anton Watson placed 12th in discus.
Abby Skipworth is the only returning individual state qualifier on the girls side after placing fourth in the 300 hurdles.
The Lobos graduated many top athletes after taking first on the boys side in the FRL and third on the girls. Despite that, there’s a lot of younger talent to help Rocky Mountain continue its success.
On the boys side Bryan Hird returns in the distance runs, and Marco Colbray returns after qualifying in discus last year. Other talented athletes to watch are Autry Baskin, Justin Green, Sean Miller and Nathan Vinson.
On the girls side, Kacey Doner is a talented distance runner, TateThornton returns after qualifying in pole vault. Gabby McDonald is back after taking second at state in the discus and sixth in shot put.
Windsor graduated many top performers from last year but has a talented group stepping in.
On the boys side, Landon Schmidt will look to qualify in several events. Luke Desmond will be competitive in the 400. Griffith Kull, Hayden Schmidt, Christian Kelly and Trent Dilka will help boost the boys squad.
On the girls side, Chaynee Kingsbury could have a big season while also playing soccer. Sam Polly, Britney Robertson, Janae Schiel, Tori Thomas and Taylor Zurbrigen will look to have big seasons.
Follow sports reporter Kevin Lytle at twitter.com/Kevin_Lytle and at facebook.com/KevinSLytle.