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Team-by-team outlook

Class 5A
Boulder Panthers
Coach: Geo Tam
The Scorecard: After both the boys and girls teams finished fourth at regionals a year ago, Tam said his squads will look much different this fall. He said he is looking “forward to discovering what the new members (of his team) can accomplish.” Senior Gavin Geer returns on the boys’ side following a standout track and field season, where he qualified for state in the 5A 3,200 and took 17th. For the girls, senior Lindsay Cook is back. Last fall, she broke the 20-minute barrier in cross country and went on to perform well in the 1,600 and 3,200 during the track and field season. Meanwhile, Boulder’s only qualifier from the last cross country season — Lukas Haug, who finished fifth in 5A — now runs at the University of Colorado.

Broomfield Eagles
Coach: Greg Weich
The Scorecard: The Eagles’ girls team is one of the more intriguing lineups in the area as it brings back three standout runners from the 2020 squad, which took seventh at the 5A state meet. Leading the way is Maelynn Higgins, who took 20th at the 5A cross country meet, and then took another leap by the state track and field meet in June, taking second in the 5A 800 and fourth in the mile. While team aspirations are most crucial for her, she also has a target set on the school 5K record of 17:49 held by Madison Mooney, who went on to run for Wisconsin. Higgins will be joined by returning qualifiers in Paisley Williamson (36th at the 2020 state meet) and Norah Powers (61st). The boys, meanwhile, surprised a season ago en route to an eighth-place finish at state. From that squad, Dylan Knoles (45th) and Ian Weich (87th) return. Other rising talents to look out for include Annie Thomas, Vanessa Deeming, Iris Stanfill and Emily Webber for the girls. For the boys, Jordan Kristoff and James Carwin are names to watch.

Fairview Knights
Coach: Sean Vandermosten
The Scorecard: The Knights have six returning state qualifiers from last season and a new coach in Vandermosten, who takes the place of Alan Culpepper, who is now an assistant coach at the University of Texas-El Paso. Back for a girls team that finished eighth at last fall’s state meet are senior Maddie Shove (44th at state in 2020), sophomore Gabriella Castellino (57th) and junior Allison Kirby (71st). Others to watch out for include sophomore Helen Carlson, junior Graciela Ernest, sophomore Mila Hagen and junior Jady Laub. For the boys, junior Eric Sankey returns after he finished 14th at the state meet and helped lead the Knights to a third-place team finish. The other two returning qualifiers are sophomores Jack Brown (61st) and Holden Krizek (82nd). Others who could help them in the varsity ranks this season are junior Tim Churchill, junior Caspar Bartholomew, junior Gordon Nilsen, junior Jake Zajac and sophomore Vincent Mangat.

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Daily Camera file photo
Legacy’s Mia Mraz returns to lead the girls team after a solid summer of work.

Legacy Lightning
Coach: DJ Hummel
The Scorecard: Senior Mia Mraz returns after she finished 33rd at the 5A state cross country meet last season. And she’s taken another giant step forward in her progress since then. In fact, at The Outdoor Nationals in Eugene, Ore., over the summer, Mraz ran a 5K race in 17 minutes, 29 seconds. The mark was the 40th-fastest 5K time run by a high school girl in the nation up to this point in 2021. Others to watch on the girls’ side include sophomore Addison Dolan, senior Peyton Meier and sophomore Keira Wilkinson. The boys, meanwhile, lost their top three fastest runners from 2020, Hummel said, including Ryan Montera, who finished seventh at state. “The boys have their work cut out for them,” the coach added.

Monarch Coyotes
Coach: Kent Rieder
The Scorecard: The Coyotes did not send any kids to the state meet last year but return several runners from last season in juniors Ella Tyrrell, Amanda Ramp, Sam Kapner, Santiago Saenz, and sophomores Layla Fisher and Mark Dombek. “Both teams are very young, with a lot of potential for the next few years,” Rieder said. “Both Layla Fisher and Mark Dombek have had a big leap in performance from their freshman year to this year.”

Class 4A
Centaurus Warriors
Coach: Devin Rourke
The Scorecard: Maggie McCleskey won the NCAC championship and finished sub-20 minutes for a third straight year at the state meet, going 14th last year in 19:21. The senior is the lone returning qualifier for the girls team, while the boys, which finished third at state, bring back junior Max Heins (22nd at 2020 state meet), senior Kyle Berg (31st), senior John McGill (32nd) and sophomore Jacob Schwarting (57th). Rourke, looking ahead, said he hopes to qualify both teams this season. Others to watch for on the boys’ side are junior Sam Schwarting, senior Harrison Freis-Levy, senior Robert Marquez and junior Kaden Huss. For the girls, intriguing prospects include senior Emma Sundberg, sophomore Kieren Berg, sophomore Tiernan Meagher and junior Ava Miller.

Erie Tigers
Coach: Brandon Havard
The Scorecard: Junior Evan Kraus proved to be an emerging talent out of Erie last season, finishing 15th at the state meet in 16 minutes, 11.70 seconds. That mark was 84th in the state in 2020. He took another large step forward in the first meet of this season with a winning time of 15:19.80 at the Windsor Wizards Invitational. Last year at state, the Tigers finished 12th as a team, and from that Luke Fritsche (52nd), Logan Maddox (73rd), Nathan Raimo (90th) and Cody Simonson (95th) all are returning. On the girls’ side, Ella Jimenez made plenty of noise in her freshman season. She finished ninth at her regional and was an all-region honorable mention. At Windsor, she finished fifth in 19:39 followed by Ashley Keazer in eighth at 19:52.70.

Frederick High School
Coach: Jenna Ptaschek
The Scorecard: Frederick, which did not have a state runner a season ago, now has a new coach in Ptaschek. “I am excited to get to know the team and community,” she said. “We are hoping to change the culture of the team and sport, as well to be a welcoming, fun, positive, environment that students of all ability levels want to join.” Frederick brings back Alex Carillo, who took 13th at his regional last year and could be a state qualifier this time around. Chase Svela and Garrett Colvin are also among names who could crack into the state meet this fall. Senior Mikenna Hoffman ran 22:15 at the team’s first meet this season for the girls, while freshman Mya Wilcox had a time of 26:30.

Longmont Trojans
Coach: Scott Dickinson
The Scorecard: The Trojans return plenty of skill to the course this year, led by a strong senior core in Connor McCormick, Dominic Warner, Andreas O’Malley, Kelsie Heins, Ella Erickson and Althea Griffith. The boys team finished 13th in the Class 4A state championships during the 2020 season. “I am very excited and grateful to give the Longmont Trojans a true cross country season in 2021,” Dickinson said. “It was very difficult for me and the athletes to stay fully motivated last season and we are excited that we had a full summer of training.”

Mead Mavericks
Coach: Steve Parsons
The Scorecard: The Mavericks hold high hopes going into the fall season and will look to seniors Nathan Hoffman, Tyler Mayer, juniors Nolan Hoffman, Ben Mayer, Joe McGregor, Frances Hudson, Lauren Caldwell, Mary Fetters, and sophomores Isabelle Mierau and Abby Moore for guidance. “We are very confident coming into the season and have our eyes set on making state,” Parsons said. “The boys and girls teams are both hungry, and that’s a fun team to coach. Our focus is on not looking too far ahead, but instead to work hard and trust the process.”

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Daily Camera file photo
Niwot’s Mia Prok, now a sophomore, was the girls runner of the year in 2020.

Niwot Cougars
Coach: Kelly Christensen
The Scorecard: The Cougars swept both the boys and the girls team titles with an individual champion in Zane Bergen in 2020. This year, they’ll look just as dangerous as they return state qualifiers in seniors Bergen, Joey Hendershot, juniors Carlos Kipkorir, Lex Bullen, Madison Shults, and sophomores Sarah Perkins and Mia Prok. Prok took second at state as a freshman. “Both teams have the potential to be very young,” Christensen said. “A lot of young athletes put in some work this summer. Their number one goal is to continue developing fitness.”

Silver Creek Raptors
Coach: Roger Powley
The Scorecard: The Raptor ladies finished seventh as a team in last year’s Class 4A state championships and will return some of that firepower in 2021 through senior Riley Crawford and juniors Grace Moroney, Elle Murray and Taylor Weiss. They’ll also bring back seniors Jaiden Nicks and Kade Robinson as well as sophomore Simon Murray on the boys’ side. “While we’ve had a quick turnaround, we’re looking to build on the gains made by a number of the kids during the track season. I’m very happy with the way they’ve worked the past couple of months and excited to have a full cross country season ahead of us.”

Skyline Falcons
Coach: Kyle Fujimoto
The Scorecard: The Falcons will utilize its youth for the upcoming season but will rely on seniors J.J. Romero, Carl Baca, juniors Kaya Augustad, Kaden Wilson and sophomores Henry Carr, Aiden Phelan and Liam Pelster for leadership. “I am very excited about having a very young and inexperienced group of runners to work with and watch improve every day,” Fujimoto said. “They are very eager to learn and improve and that is all I can ask for.”

Class 3A
Holy Family Tigers
Coach: Charles Shapiro
The Scorecard: The boys and girls teams, after winning their regional meet last season, went on to finish a respective third and second at the state meet. This year, the boys squad looks to be much improved “even with Jack Culp (10th at 2020 state meet)” graduating, Shapiro said. The team’s returning state qualifiers Micah Munoz (27th), Anthony Haberkorn (29th) and Andrew Descalzo (34th) are expected to be joined by a group of improved runners in Luke Busot, Patrick Cavanaugh, Jacob Vigil and Parker Nelson. “This team will make noise,” the coach said. The girls return qualifiers Summer Norwell (23rd), Evelyn Boyd (30th), Elizabeth Boselli (38th) and Alyssa Jany (45th). Moriah Montoya, meanwhile, could join them at the championships this season.

Jefferson Academy Jaguars
Coach: Ben Hershelman
The Scorecard: The Jags finished sixth as a boys team at last year’s state meet and finished ninth with the girls. Both “return a ton of firepower,” 13th-year coach Hershelman said. “We are looking to better what we did last year.” Back for the boys team are state qualifiers in senior Evan Mills (24th at state in 2020), sophomore Sean Beasley (31st), senior Noah Douglas (57th) and senior Beau Noland (85th). Freshmen Rylan Mills and Aden Garza, meanwhile, could provide them with even more depth. For the girls, sophomore Maya Ross (16th), sophomore Sarah Welsch (54th) and junior Tessa Stadler (89th) return.

Peak to Peak Pumas
Coach: Jesse Fassler
The Scorecard: The Pumas said goodbye to a behemoth in Allison Beasley, who took third overall in the Class 3A state championships last season. They’ll bring back top talent with seniors Thomas Lui, Lorenzo Harrison Anguaino, Ali Kerschner, junior Ryan Taylor and sophomores Abbey Brende and Annaka Rudolph. “Both the boys and girls teams have more depth on the roster than in previous years,” Fassler said. “There is potential for both teams this season to run well.”

Prospect Ridge Miners
Coach: Mary Marr
The Scorecard: The Miners come off of their most successful season in 2020 as both the boys and girls teams qualified for state for the first time since the school opened in 2011. They’ll be led by juniors Elise Wheeler, Logan Goodman, Carlos Howerton, Avin Singh and sophomores Mia Cosio, Avery Marr and Christopher Rueda. “We lost a few key runners this season but I am excited about our new talent and our returning runners are looking stronger than ever,” Mary Marr said. “Both teams are focused and determined to make it to state again this season.”

Class 2A
Dawson School Mustangs
Coach: Katie Boyle and Tom Marshall
The Scorecard: Like many programs during the 2020 pandemic fall season, the Mustangs struggled. “There were times when we didn’t have enough (runners) to score in 2A,” Boyle said. But hopes are higher looking forward. “This year, the team is working really hard and we are optimistic for a good season,” Boyle said. “I am hopeful that we will be taking a boys and a girls team to the state meet this season.” Junior Finn Carpenter returns for the boys team after he made a giant leap as a sophomore, cracking the 18-minute barrier in the 5K. Others to look out for include Maddie Abel on the girls side and Charlie Long for the boys. Both are freshmen with nice potential.

Lyons Lions
Coach: Mark Roberts
The Scorecard: The Lions come back from a highly successful 2020 that saw the boys team finishing second and the girls team finishing third in the Class 2A state championships. They welcome back top performers in seniors Quin Gregg, Katie Roberts, Arjen Wynja, junior Cole Thomas, and sophomores Emma Johnson and Sage Wynja. “We’re optimistic about both teams’ opportunity to improve on last year’s 2A state finishes,” Roberts said. “Both teams are looking to move up in the final state standings. They’ve had a good summer of training and are looking forward to running in our old format after the challenges of last fall.”

Nederland Panthers
Coach: Gavin Coombs
The Scorecard: As the Panthers welcome a new head coach this year, they’ll look to leadership from top returners in seniors Eirwen Mcclish, Ivy Brundege and junior Noah Turner. Nederland will also look to the talents of freshman Lukey Mahorski and sophomore Trinity LeBanc. “We are really just looking forward to building on the tradition of Nederland cross country and growing our team,” Coombs said. “Our current team is dedicated, motivated and excited to get back to a regular season.”

Shining Mountain Waldorf Lions
Coach: Tyler Haughness
The Scorecard: The Lions will welcome back sophomore Ruby Modica after sending just one runner, senior Olivia Jabari, to the state cross country meet last year. “We are confident in knowing this is a year of growth,” Haughness said. “We have one returning athlete, who has been dedicated to putting in the work and excited to see where the season leads. Who will step up to the calling of the team is yet to be answered. I am excited to coach in Colorado again and look forward to developing the team that has more fun than any other in the state.”

Twin Peaks Timberwolves
Coach: Jillian Robinson
The Scorecard: The Timberwolves enter the 2021 season riding a high as the boys team — led in part by seniors Aaron Jenkins, Jack Ulmer and junior Giorgio Spensieri — after finishing top 10 in the Class 2A state championship team standings for the first time in school history. The six boys on the team will be joined by three ladies, who will represent the biggest girls team TPCA has ever had. “We have always been one of the smallest teams in the state,” Robinson said. “However, we have continued to build and improve year over year, which is a testament to the students’ work ethic and commitment to each other.”

Point me to the postseason
Teams in all classifications will get the opportunity to race a normal schedule of events leading up to regionals, which are predetermined at host sites around the state and will take place between Oct. 21 and 23. Four teams from each regional will qualify for the state championship meet, plus any individual not associated with those four schools who finish within the top-15 at regionals. The state championships will be held at the Norris-Penrose Equestrian Center in Colorado Springs on Oct. 30.

Jefferson Academy's Evan Mills at the ...
Daily Camera file photo
Evan Mills, of Jefferson Academy, will look to improve on a 24th-place finish at the 2020 state championships in Class 3A.

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