Colorado state track: Storylines, returning champions, what to know

A rundown of the CHSAA state track and field meet to be held Thursday through Saturday at Jeffco Stadium in Lakewood:

10 things to watch

Thunderstruck: A year ago, the coldest two days of the spring fell on the last two days of the state meet … along with several inches of snow. This year’s weather hurdle? The dreaded afternoon thunderstorms, which, as anyone who’s ever attended a state meet knows, can delay events for chunks at a time. On the bright side, at least it’ll be warm.

Niwot’s dominance: Once again, the Niwot girls are the team to beat in Class 4A. Led by Stanford commit Madison Shults, the Cougars are going for their fourth consecutive 4A team title with a puncher’s chance at winning every individual race outside of the 100 and 200. Shults has the nation’s third-best PR this spring in the 800 (2:04.28), according to MileSplit, and is also the state leader in the 400. Win both, and she would finish with five individual state titles.

Going for four, Part I: Jefferson Academy senior Chrisly Kelly-Cannon has a busy weekend ahead of him. A previous state titlist in the long jump in 2021 with a 3A meet record leap of 23 feet, 1 1/2 inches, he has the top qualifying marks in the 100, 200, long jump and triple jump in his class. Winning four individual titles is not out of the question.

Going for four, Part II: Kelly-Cannon isn’t alone in chasing four. Mountain Vista senior Rachel Bair (Utah commit) has been among the fastest girls in Colorado this spring with the top qualifying times in each of the 5A sprints (100, 200, 400). The biggest challenge? Topping Cherokee Trail super sophomore Kaeli Powe in the long jump.

Sweeping feeling: A sprint sweep is in play in the 5A and 4A boys meets. Cherokee Trail sophomore Peyton Sommers has the top 5A qualifying times in the 100 and 200 and is second to defending champion Ace Malone of Castle View in the 400. Meanwhile, Mead senior Tavon Underwood, a Kansas State commit, is tops in 4A in the 200 and 400 and has the second-best qualifying times in the 100 and 800.

Un-Common talent: If Liberty Common repeats as the 3A girls champion it will undoubtedly be due in large part to junior Isabel Allori, a state cross country champion who is eyeing a sweep in the girls’ distance races (800, 1600, 3200). A year ago, she set the 3A meet record in the 1600 and won the 3200.

Go the distance: Look no further than the distance races to find the meet’s most star-studded events. That’s particularly true in 5A, where Valor Christian’s Drew Costelow (CU commit), Mountain Vista’s Tyler Downs (Cal Poly) and Fort Collins’ Christian Groendyk (Princeton) will face off in the boys meet, and Pomona’s Emma Stutzman (Northern Arizona), Valor’s Brooke Wilson (Wake Forest), Arapahoe’s Ava Mitchell (Northern Arizona) and Air Academy junior Bethany Michalak will do the same in the girls races.

Moving on up: A few state powers accustomed to winning team titles are competing in higher classifications this weekend. The most interesting test case will be Heritage Christian, a Fort Collins private school that won eight boys titles over the previous nine 1A meets and consecutive 1A girls titles. Now in 2A, the Eagles have 51 entries between the boys and girls, including freshmen title contenders Mikaela Kendall (1600, 3200) and Kristin Osborne (triple jump) and three-time 1A state champion distance runner Jack Nauman.

DeBeque’s high-flyers: Junior Scottie Vines is carrying on a recent tradition of great leapers from the tiny Western Slope town of DeBeque. A few years ago, it was between-the-legs dunker Brennan Rigsby who turned heads with his hops. Now it’s Vines, who is one of 17 prep athletes to clear 7 feet in the high jump this spring, according to MileSplit, and a favorite to win the 1A long jump crown. His sister, Ava, is a sophomore primed to challenge for the girls 1A high jump title, too.

Pole position: Silver Creek’s Megan Kelleghan and Broomfield’s Lilly Nichols are going for state title three-peats in 4A and 5A, respectively. Kelleghan set a meet record last spring (13-4.50) in winning her second pole vault title. The North Carolina commit’s best vault this season (13-3) is 21st in the nation, according to MileSplit. On the boys’ side, Windsor senior Cameron Thomas, one of nine pole vaulters to clear 17 feet this spring, could shatter the 4A meet record (16-0) this weekend.

Returning state champions

Class 5A boys

AthleteSchool, yearEventWinning mark
^Blake BarnettErie, jr.10011.11
Ace MaloneCastle View, sr.40047.18
Drew CostelowValor Christian, sr.8001:52.11
Drew CostelowValor Christian, sr.16004:13.09
Daniel ThomasonFruita Monument, so.High jump6-5
D’Andre Barnes (’21)Regis Jesuit, sr.20021.69
Brandon Hills (’21)Vista Ridge, sr.Long jump23-2

Class 5A girls

AthleteSchool, yearEventWinning mark
**Lilly NicholsBroomfield, jr.Pole vault12-9
^Bethany Michalak (’21)Air Academy, jr.16004:55.01

Class 4A boys

AthleteSchool, yearEventWinning mark
^Marcus MillsSierra, sr110 hurdles14.9
^Trey CiccioLutheran, sr300 hurdles39.02
Antoni SmithCheyenne Mountain, srHigh jump6-8
^Jayden NohrRoosevelt, soLong jump22-9

Class 4A girls

AthleteSchool, yearEventWinning mark
Janise EverettMesa Ridge, sr20025.03
Madison ShultsNiwot, sr40056.05
**Madison ShultsNiwot, sr8002:08.33
Kimora NorthrupNiwot, sr100 hurdles14.66
Elizabeth HeumannThompson Valley, srHigh jump5-4
**Megan KelleghanSilver Creek, srPole vault13-0
Kimora Northrup (’21)Niwot, sr300 hurdles43.78

Class 3A boys

AthleteSchool, yearEventWinning mark
Jackson FagerlinResurrection Chr., so.16004:22.79
Logan GullettEaton, jr32009:38.26
Zac GrableEaton, srHigh jump6-5
Justin BateLiberty Common, jrPole vault13-6
Jordan WengerClassical Academy, srTriple jump47-2.5
Chrisly Kelly-Cannon (’21)Jefferson Academy, srLong jump23-1.5

Class 3A girls

AthleteSchool, yearEventWinning mark
Isabel AlloriLiberty Common, jr16004:55.12
Isabel AlloriLiberty Common, jr320010:57.69
Kourtney RathkePeak to Peak, jrLong jump18-05.00
Kourtney RathkePeak to Peak, jrPole vault12-11.00
Logan Haugestuen (’21)Liberty Common, sr100 hurdles15.9
Anna Willis (’21)The Classical Academy, jrPole vault12-6

Class 2A boys

AthleteSchool, yearEventWinning mark
Jackson NepplSt. Mary’s, sr8002:00.45
Jackson NepplSt. Mary’s, sr16004:29.59
^Jack NaumanHeritage Christian, sr16004:34.14
^**Jack NaumanHeritage Christian, sr320010:19.23

Class 2A girls

AthleteSchool, yearEventWinning mark
Kylee TerryCedaredge, sr10012.75
Kylee TerryCedaredge, sr20025.72
^**Ainsley StantonHeritage Christian, jr320012:48.68
**Eboselulu OmofomaDayspring Christian, jr100 hurdles15.32
**Eboselulu OmofomaDayspring Christian, jrHigh jump5-5.5
Gemma PowellLyons, jrDiscus119-8
^Ainsley Stanton (’21)Heritage Christian, jr16005:43.77

Class 1A boys

AthleteSchool, yearEventWinning mark
Gauge LewisSanford, sr10011.58
**Jacob JeffersonArickaree/Woodlin, sr40051.58
**Jacob JeffersonArickaree/Woodlin, sr110 hurdles16.46
Braeden HarrisCheraw, sr300 hurdles40.57
Scottie VinesDeBeque, jrHigh jump6-2
Ryan McCaffreyAkron, jrPole vault12-9
Konner Rowden-StumGenoa-Hugo, jrTriple jump42-0
**John HainerGranada, srShot put49-3

Class 1A girls

AthleteSchool, yearEventWinning mark
Krista WieserIdalia, so10013.47
Kally KirkwoodFleming, sr20026.96
Kally KirkwoodFleming, sr40059.24
Paola VidalesKiowa, jr16005:38.97
Lisa SutherlandNucla, sr100 hurdles16.24
Shaylee SchelerCheyenne Wells, jr300 hurdles47.32
**Maggie HaaseEads, srHigh jump5-00.00
Zadie MacKeyElbert, jrDiscus137-07
Zadie MackeyElbert, jrShot put35-8.50

**- Two-time champion | ^ Won in lower classification | (’21) won in 2021

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