Colbert’s Prep Playbook: Taking stock of local track athletes with a month to go until the state meet
We are exactly one month away from the start of the state track and field meet — held May 16 to 18 in Lakewood — so I figure this is a good time to check in and see which of our local athletes have a chance at qualifying.
Coming off the excitement of the 2017 state meet, in which Aspen High School senior Sunday Abarca won his third straight state title in the 400-meter dash, the 2018 meet lacked any real contenders between AHS and Basalt. In fact, Aspen didn’t have anyone qualify.
But the 2019 meet is shaping up to be much better. Both teams have a few podium hopefuls with a couple having a shot at a possible top-five finish. So, with four weeks remaining until everyone convenes in Denver, let’s take stock of our area track stars.
All these numbers and rankings were taken from MaxPreps — which CHSAA uses for its own lists — and they seem to be fully updated after the weekend. Typically speaking, the top 18 in each event qualify for state.
First and foremost, the girls dominate this list of hopeful qualifiers, and none stand out quite like Basalt sophomore Sierra Bower (I believe I’ve brought her name up a few times in recent weeks). A quickly rising star in the world of distance running, Bower ranks fifth in Class 3A in the 3,200-meter run (11:24.59) and seventh in the 1,600-meter run (5:20.98). She is roughly 15 to 17 seconds behind first place in either event. Keep in mind she ran the 2-mile in less than 11 minutes at sea level last week when she competed in the prestigious Arcadia Invitational.
AHS junior Julisa Ruiz-Vega is worth watching. She currently is ranked eighth in the 100-meter dash (13 seconds flat), a time she hit this past weekend at the meet in Glenwood Springs. You might have seen her on the soccer field some this spring as well, as she is double dipping in both sports. AHS sophomore Zuleika Hanson, another soccer player, currently is 23rd in the 200-meter dash.
BHS senior Megan Maley (15th) and AHS sophomore Kendall Clark (18th) are both toeing the line in the 800-meter run, with Bower back in 28th. Both still have a lot of work to do in the 400 and Clark in the 1,600 to get to state.
Sticking with Aspen, the girls look pretty solid in a handful of relays. As of today, they would qualify in the 800 medley (seventh) and the 4×400 (15th). The 4×100 and 4×200 girls are right on the cusp, ranked 19th and 21st, respectively.
There seem to be two names worth mentioning here in regard to the field athletes. AHS junior Paige Quist is seventh in shot put, having hit a mark of 39 feet, 9.75 inches at the Glenwood meet. She needs to add another 5 feet to have a go at a state title. Then, Basalt junior Katie Bohannan is in the mix to qualify in both the high jump (currently 18th) and the pole vault (16th).
This list isn’t nearly as long, with no Aspen or Basalt boys currently ranked in the top 10. Making a run at it, however, is BHS junior Ben Williams, currently 12th in the 110-meter hurdles (16.59), set over the weekend in Glenwood. He could have a chance at a podium come state. Williams also ranks 26th in the high jump.
Basalt also has a solid 4×800-meter relay team, currently ranked 13th. Other Basalt hopefuls include junior Rulbe Alvarado, who is 25th in the 200-meter dash, and senior Nathan Rivera, who is 20th in the pole vault.
Aspen’s only male hopeful seems to be senior Nicholas Galambos, who is 30th in the 800-meter run and 31st in the 3,200-meter run.
The next chance for the track athletes to improve their rankings will be Friday at the Coal Ridge Invitational.
Now, for some quick notes on the rest of the sports…
First, let’s welcome the AHS boys back to the CHSAANow.com top 10. Preseason No. 5 in 4A, the Skiers dropped out for a few weeks but return at No. 8 this week. The AHS boys, 4-3 overall, host No. 7 Steamboat Springs at 4 p.m. Wednesday.
The AHS girls lacrosse team dropped from No. 8 to No. 9 this week, for reasons I can’t even guess at. All they did last week was beat a very good Air Academy team on the road, 14-10, and beat Summit, 22-1 (no, I’m not missing a digit), to move to 7-0 on the season. The girls host Grand Junction at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in a league game on Iselin.
The Aspen girls soccer team is back where it started the season, which is ranked No. 4 in 3A. Two early-season losses at Grand Junction and Steamboat Springs are nothing but distant memories. AHS is 5-0 since spring break and outscored Basalt and Moffat by a combined 15-0 last week. They have a tough test Tuesday with a 4 p.m. home game against Coal Ridge (4-4-1) on the turf.
Basalt soccer had arguably its best result of the season Monday when it played to a 3-3 draw against visiting SkyView Academy, which is ranked No. 6 in 3A this week. I still believe the Longhorns are better than their 1-7-1 record shows, and Monday’s result proves that. BHS next hosts Faith Christian (4-4) on Friday. Faith just dropped out of the rankings this week, having been No. 10 in 3A only a few days ago.
Something will have to give when Aspen and Basalt baseball face off Tuesday at 3 p.m. on the BHS field. In what could be their only meeting of the season, AHS enters 0-9 overall while Basalt is 0-6. Both reasonably young teams with new head coaches (although both of the coaches were former assistants), someone should get a much-needed confidence boost.
The Aspen girls tennis team won, 5-2, at Grand Junction on Monday. Shockingly, it was the first time competing outside this spring for the Skiers. The losses came at No. 1 and 2 singles. Karina Keller won at No. 3 singles, and AHS swept through doubles competition. Aspen plays Wednesday at Glenwood Springs.
The Basalt girls tennis team continues to seek growth in only its second varsity season. The Longhorns lost 6-1 at Glenwood last week and were slated to play Fruita on Monday and at Paonia on Wednesday.
Aspen girls golf finished fourth among 3A schools and 11th overall last week in Grand Junction. They compete again Tuesday at Rifle. Avery Hirsch and Zoe Guthrie remain the hopefuls to qualify for the 3A state tournament, held May 20 and 21 at Eagle Ranch in Vail.
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