Girls' Cross Country Capsules
Coach: Robert Duensing (4th season)
Key players: Sadie Baker, sr.; Jacquie Dubois, sr.; Kylie Smith, sr.; Bailey Blackhurst, jr.
Outlook: Sadie Baker highlights a strong senior-heavy squad that is looking to bring along its younger runners. Expect Baker to improve upon her 6:54 pace from last year's 5A state cross country championships.
Coach: Ben Montoya (28th season)
Key players: Neva Archuleta, sr.
Outlook: Archuleta leads the Trojans into 2013 after setting a personal record time of 19 minutes and 43 seconds last season. However, Fountain-Fort Carson coach Ben Montoya has his work cut out for him with a very inexperienced squad.
Coach: Gary Weston (27th season)
Key players: Cloe Ross, sr.; Kara Goddard, sr.; Allison Mann, fr.; Emilie Carroll, so.; Haley Zinchik, so.; Ashley Delaney, sr.
Outlook: Coach Gary Weston is fielding a young girls cross country squad this season after placing at regionals in 2012.
Keep an eye on freshman Allison Mann and sophomores Emilie Carroll and Haley Zinchik for a look at some of Liberty's up-and-coming talent.
Coach: Rob Gilliam (11th overall, 2nd as head coach)
Key players: Hannah McIntyre, sr.; Sami Anderson, sr.; Rene Carter, so.; Paige Forbes, jr.
Outlook: Hannah McIntyre and Sami Anderson are providing senior leadership to Palmer's younger runners in hopes of getting the Terrors to peak at the end of the season.
Coach: Max Oliver (12th season)
Key players: Gabrielle Sered, sr.; Katherine Sered, sr.; Kaleigh Kroeker, jr.; Madelyn Baron, sr.
Outlook: Pine Creek returns the Top-3 runners in 5A District 5 with Gabrielle Sered, Katherine Sered and Kaleigh Kroeker. With those three at the helm, the Eagles look primed for another run as one of the region's best after traveling to Portland, Ore., last year for the Nike National Championships. The trio also finished 27-29 at the 5A state cross country championships and helped the Eagles finish third overall.
Pine Creek will certainly miss 2012 state champion Heather Bates, who graduated in the spring, but coach Max Oliver says the Eagles are "hungry for a return trip" to Oregon.
Coach: Robert Young (2nd season)
Key players: Emily Dingman, sr.; Thea Ramsey, jr
Outlook: Rampart will need to solidify its final No. 5-7 runners if it hopes to make the state finals. The Rams have a strong front four that will help them contend throughout the season. Emily Dingham recently broke the 19-minute mark in a triathlon, and Thea Ramsey is a runner to watch in the region who is primed for a breakout year.
Coach: Marcy Epperson (13th season)
Key players: Aubrey Till, jr.; Ellie Enderle, fr.; Cassy Giammo, sr.; Anna Goodin, jr.; Amy Solis, sr.; Katie Till, fr.; Riley Valentine, jr.;
Outlook: Canon City looks to be powered by the Till sisters in 2013. Aubrey returns to the Tigers after finishing eighth at the 4A state cross country meet (19 minutes, 45 seconds) but is going to be pushed this season by her sister, Katie - a freshman.
Coach Marcy Epperson likes that her veteran runner, who finished in first place at the 4A Region 5 Meet in 19 minutes and 22 seconds, has someone to push her.
"Aubrey Till has some competition this year," Epperson said. "It's nice to see the siblings work together and make the team stronger for the season."
Regardless, Epperson has plenty of talent to work with as 56 girls are on team, making it the second largest team at Canon City behind football.
Coach: Stan Lambros (8th season)
Key players: Greta Sloan, sr.; Nell Crosby, sr.; Hannah Van Horn, sr.; Sierra Kenyon, sr.; Maggie Sheahan, sr.; Madison Lambros, so.; Veronica Brtek, so.
Outlook: Cheyenne Mountain returns its Top-7 runners from last year, highlighted by school record-holder Greta Sloan. The senior is coming off a strong spring track and field season where she helped lead Cheyenne Mountain to a state championship in the 4 x 800.
Sloan and Crosby were members of the 2010 state championship squad and will provide senior leadership along with Sierra Kenyon and Maggie Sheahan.
Not only do the Indians have an experience-laden squad, coach Stan Lambros said this is the largest girls' team Cheyenne Mountain has had in years.
The Classical Academy
Coach: Alan Versaw (14th season)
Key players: Lauren Hamilton, sr.; Maddie Mullen, jr.; Hannah Williams, jr.; Brianne Hoglin, sr.; Megan Percy, jr.; Katie Knapp, sr.; Casey Griggs, so.; Kirsten Kropkowski, so.
Outlook: The Classical Academy is deep, not to mention talented. All seven of TCA's key players to watch this season qualified for the 3A state track & field championships a year ago.
Lauren Hamilton will be leading the way for TCA after finishing seventh in the state cross country championships last year, while also being crowned the 3A state champion in the 1600 and 800 meters in the spring.
Senior Brianne Hoglin is a runner to watch as well after winning the 3A state championship in the 400 meters.
However, this is not a two-horse squad. TCA also features another two runners that finished in the Top 20 at last year's state cross country meet: Maddie Mullen (16th) and Hannah Williams (18th).
"We've been down this road," said coach Alan Versaw. "The girls know what it takes to win and are committed to excellence."
One of the main keys this year is to make sure the Titans remain team-oriented, Versaw added.
"It's always a concern that we come together as a team, and not as so many individuals," Versaw said. "Complacency is always a lurking enemy when you've had success."
Coach: Doug Hugill (15th season)
Key players: Kristen Hernandez, sr.; Lauren Akers, sr.; Gabby Roth, jr.; Olivia Babeu, jr.; Lauren Murray, sr.; Jessica Beida, jr.; Liz Akers, sr.
Outlook: The 4A state runner-ups return four of its seven runners from last year and should be set for another strong postseason showing.
Gabby Roth (20:12.3) and Lauren Akers (20:36.7) will anchor the Cougars after posting sub-21 minute times at state.
Olivia Babeu and Kristen Hernandez also represented Coronado at the state meet.
Coach: Christina Miner (8th season)
Key players: Beth DeLaurell, so.; Arianna Ross, jr.; Yana Brown, fr.; Courtney McCann, jr.; Rylee McCone, jr.; Sydney Hosey, so.
Outlook: Discovery Canyon is shaping up to be fielding one of its best teams in recent memory by returning four of its Top-5 runners from 2012. You then throw in the addition of incoming freshman Yana Brown, who is ranked 13th in the nation in her age group for the triathlon, and the Thunder have enough talent to overcome losing two seniors from last year.
Despite having a slight drop off as a sophomore, expect to hear Arianna Ross' name among the runners to watch in the region this year after she finished in 10th place at the state meet in 2012 in 19:12.88 as a freshman.
The talent is there, but Discovery Canyon must master its race strategy if it hopes to make it to the next level and compete with the region's best.
Coach: Suzuanne Kuehl (30th season)
Key players: Kaitlin Cavera, sr.; Mckenzie Shuman, fr.; Maddi Smith, so.; Isabel Taylor, jr.; Emily Varnet, jr.
Outlook: Kaitlin Cavera is Lewis-Palmer's strongest returning runner and will be the source of veteran leadership for longtime coach Suzanne Kuehl.
Coach: Carl Burgess (8th season)
Key players: Tierra Allen, jr.; Raina Lopez, sr.; Samantha Czosnyka, jr.
Outlook: Mesa Ridge will be somewhat of an unknown this season with a variety of new players suiting up, highlighted by junior Tierra Allen. The Grizzlies look to be a committed group and will also rely upon Raina Lopez and Samantha Czosnyka.
Coach: Walt Wilson (10th season)
Key players: Alyssa Mastronardi, jr.; Natalie Tiona, so.
Outlook: Alyssa Mastronardi and Natalie Tiona return for Mitchell, which looks to have just enough girls to field a squad in 2013.
Coach: Larry Rudnicki (3rd overall, 1st as interim head coach)
Key players: Ali Deitsch, sr.; Kaitlin Ramsey, so.; Hannah Capek, so.; Audree Furst, so.; Claire Wilson, jr.
Outlook: Larry Rudnicki takes over the head coaching position at Palmer Ridge with Kandee Khodl on maternity leave and he sure has one talented squad.
Ali Deitsch may be the best runner in the Pikes Peak region and behind her are three more runners - Kaitlin Ramsey, Hannah Capek and Audree Furst - that were part of last year's ninth place squad at the 4A state cross country meet.
Deitsch, who finished in 19:31.4 at last year's state meet, is likely headed to a Division I college after this year and this is her final season at the helm before passing the torch to the sophomore trio of Ramsey, Capek and Furst.
"I think we're going to see a more balanced squad this season, with a smaller gap between Ali Deitsch and the rest of the team," Rudnicki said.
Palmer Ridge has become known for developing strong runners to round out its squad and that looks to be the case again with junior Claire Wilson emerging this fall.
"(She is an) emerging team leader, who started slow and is working her way to the top," Rudnicki added.
One freshman to also watch is Erin Tirpak. She is the younger sister of Quinn Tirpak, who was a varsity runner last year and is taking 2013 off to study abroad.
Coach: Mike Marty (6th season)
Key players: Nayda Benitez, sr.; Sophia Lopez, so.
Outlook: Nayda Benitez returns for Sierra after posting a time of 26:09 at regionals in 2012. However, coach Mike Marty believes Benitez has the potential to shave a decent chunk off her time based on her training habits.
Training has been the theme for first-year runner Sophia Lopez, and the rest of the inexperienced Sierra squad as Marty strives to build the girl's endurance up for the final stretch of the season.
Coach: Erik Nelson (10th season)
Key players: Bethany Rodriguez, jr.; Lexi Armstrong, jr.; Caitlin Peters, jr.; Samantha Howell, fr.
Outlook: Widefield returns only two players from last year's team, but this year's group is committed to creating a "culture of success and excellence."
Bethany Rodriguez, Lexi Armstrong, Caitlin Peters and Samantha Howell are all new to the Gladiators and are expected to contribute immediately.
Coach: Ron Payton (12th season)
Key players: Savanah Ebhert, sr.; Michaela McDonough, sr.; Lexi Harrison, jr.; Anne Fisher, sr.; Kelly Johnson, sr.
Outlook: The Panthers have a group of seniors with a very good "pack time" says coach Ron Payton, but he has yet to have a runner break the 19 minute mark.
Payton is working on having Savanah Ebhert and Michaela McDonough, two seniors that finished in the Top 20 at regionals in 2012, become more aggressive on the trails.
Woodland Park also welcomes first-year assistant Matt Levassiur, a three-time All-American at Adams State, to the coaching staff.
Colorado Springs Christian School
Coach: Mike Caton (13th season)
Key players: Abby Topper, sr.; Hannah Struttmann, sr.; Meghan Mazza, sr.; Natalie Russell, sr.
Outlook: Coach Mike Caton and company received some tough news to start the season with top-runner Abby Topper being lost for the majority of the season with three stress fractures in her foot.
"She is recovering well," Caton said. "Hoping she can race some at the end of the season."
CSCS has limited depth this year, so it will be interesting to see who rises to the challenge to help out the Lions. However, seniors Hannah Struttmann -another strong runner in the Pikes Peak region - Meghan Mazza, and Natalie Russell can help relieve some of the pressure from their teammates.
Coach: Jim Van Hoesen (10th season)
Key players: Ariel Drury, so.
Outlook: Coach Van Hoesen is excited to get the season under way with the most girls he's had out for cross country. The team appears dedicated for the upcoming year and has demonstrated a strong work ethic.
Drury, the team's only returner, is a runner to watch in the Pikes Peak region and is back after an injury-rattled freshman season.
Coach: Jaclyn Roberson (5th season)
Key players: Kaitlyn Vogel, jr.
Outlook: Kaitlyn Vogel looks poised to be Manitou Springs' first qualifier for the 3A state cross country meet in a while and the potential exists for the Mustangs to possibly qualify as a team as well.
Coach: Debbie Hellman (7th season)
Key players: Elena Slavoski, sr.; Miranda Mitchell, sr.; Morgan Baldwin, sr.; Bailey Neppl, jr.; Sophie Rickey, so.
Outlook: St. Mary's returns Elena Slavoski after the senior finished in 20th place at the 3A state cross country meet last season in 21:17.4.
Along with Slavoski, seniors Miranda Mitchell and Morgan Baldwin provide the Pirates with stellar experience and leadership.
Coach Debbie Hellman said St. Mary's has been focused on strength training to prepare for the hilly courses that dot their 2013 schedule.
Pikes Peak Christian
Coach: Lisa Ratterree (6th season)
Key players: Tristina Attman, fr.
Outlook: Pikes Peak Christian is starting to slowly garner interest in its school community for the girls' cross country team. The Eagles are beginning to get more players to sign up for the squad.
Coach: Tim Van Sickler (10th season)
Key players: Mattie Rufenacht, sr.; Sydney Grayson, jr.; Bethany Griffen, so.; Mattie Hlatki
Outlook: The young Panthers return two Black Forest all-league selections in sophomores Bethany Griffen and Mattie Hlatki. Those two runners will only get better after outstanding freshmen campaigns that saw them both qualify for the 2A state cross country championships. Hlatki finished in 23:34.1 and Griffen crossed the finish line in 25.41.9.
Mattie Rufenacht, a three-year letterman, is back for her senior year and will provide leadership for Peyton.
One runner to watch is Sydney Grayson, a transfer from Florida who is expected to contribute immediately.
Coach Tim Van Sickler believes Peyton will return to the state meet once again and that the Panthers have plenty of potential.
Coach: Steve Read (8th year)
Key players: Jenneah Lenzini, jr.; Ariana Toland, so.; Jordyn Arcuri, sr.; Amanda Eubanks, jr.
Outlook: Vanguard returns two strong runners in Jenneah Lenzini, the Black Forest League champion and Region 2 runner-up, and Ariana Toland, who was the team's top finisher at state. Lenzini (20:28 personal record) and Toland (20:48 PR) give the Coursers a solid 1-2 punch.
However, much of Vanguard's success will depend on its third runner, likely either senior Jordyn Arcuri or junior Amanda Banks, and how fast they can cross the finish line.
Another Vanguard runner to watch is Jenny Smith. The new sophomore was a member of Vanguard's state relay team's last spring and is a talented long distance sprinter and middle distance runner.