Gazette Preps girls' cross country capsules

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5A

Coronado

Coach: Grant Stoughton

Key returners: Taylor Dutton, sr.; Faith Roth, jr.; Chloe Cassens, sr.; Madeline Morland, jr.

Outlook: Stoughton might be new to the program, but his runners have plenty of experience with a bulk of returners back from last year's young squad that finished seventh in the 5A team standings at the state meet.

Doherty

Coach: Mike Duensing

Key returners: Kayli Tabares, sr.; Rachael Blizzard, jr.; Mikayla Cox, so.

Outlook: A small but close-knit Spartans team is led by Tabares, who looks to end her prep career with a fourth consecutive state-meet berth. She placed 44th overall in 2016. Despite not having depth of years' past, Duensing likes his team's healthy mix of youth and experience.

Fountain-Fort Carson

Coach: Ben Montoya

Key returners: Loren Ruckmich, so.

Outlook: Experience and depth are at a premium this season for the Trojans. Ruckmich is the early leader after a 25th-place showing Friday at the Cheyenne Mountain Stampede. Montoya expects steady development and improvement from a roster of new runners as the season progresses.

Liberty

Coach: Katie Ghent

Key returners: Alexis Ogren, sr.; Maegan Sowells, sr.; Jaden Knight, so.; Katherine Gaughan, so.

Outlook: Ghent takes the reigns of the girls' program at Liberty after Gary Weston oversaw both boys and girls for the past 30 years. There are big shoes to fill after the graduation of Allison Mann, who had a breakthrough season as a senior and finished ninth at the 5A state meet.

Palmer

Coach: Robert Gilliam

Key returners: Leah Goodloe, so.; Julia Solano, so.; Kayla Schumacher, jr.

Outlook: It's shaping up to be a rebuilding season for the Terrors, who bring back several young runners from a senior-led squad. This year's edition will hope to send someone to state after missing out in 2016.

Rampart

Coach: Robert Young

Key returners: Kyla Ramsey, sr.; Lynzie Kutsner, jr.

Outlook: While Young has his top two runners set, he's concerned about the gaps from his other three spots. Still, he's excited about the future and what his mostly young Rams can do. Last spring, Kutsner broke a 30-year-old school record in the 3,200 meters, and incoming freshman Mollie Roden could make a difference right away.

4A

Air Academy

Coach: Chuck Schwartz

Key returners: Tatum Miller, so.; Paige Embaugh, jr.; Mackenzie Moss, jr.; Sophia Braza, sr.; Ella Urschel, so.; Lilliana Hamilton, sr.

Outlook: The Kadets, who claimed their first 4A state cross country title in 2015 and settled for second last season, have high hopes to be in the mix once again. Despite the loss of departed senior and state champion Maria Mettler, Air Academy has a trio of top-tier runners ready to continue that momentum in Miller, Embaugh and Moss.

Cañon City

Coach: Marcy Epperson

Key returners: Ellie Till, jr.; Taylor Lee, jr.; Laiken O'Rourke, so.

Outlook: Following older sisters Aubrey and Katie, Ellie Till has taken the lead as team leader and will be counted on to be a key runner. Lee and O'Rourke continue to develop and are becoming leaders in their own right.

Cheyenne Mountain

Coach: Stan Lambros

Key returners: Anna Warmack, jr.; Emily Chaston, jr.; Jensen Enterman, so.

Outlook: Three of the Indians' top runners from last season's state-qualifying team return with hopes on further development and improving on a 13th-place team finish, as well as individual results. Warmack placed 28th at state to pace Cheyenne Mountain in 2016.

Discovery Canyon

Coach: Michael Jordan

Key returners: Liberty Ricca, jr.; Emma Baron, so.; Abigail Braun, so.

Outlook: Jordan, in his first year at the helm, is anxious to see how a young team can improve on last year's 13th-place team finish at the 4A state meet. Ricca was the squad's top individual finisher at state last year, placing 32nd.

Harrison

Coach: Molly McCann

Key returners: Magnifique Niyonyishu, jr.; Jovanni Murray, so.

Outlook: Led by team captain Nijonyishu, McCann sees a team strengthened by a positive attitude, work ethic, support and resiliency. The Panthers will seek to see improvement throughout the season.

Lewis-Palmer

Coach: Mike Diamond

Key returners: Elizabeth Beagle, sr.; Haley Wood, so.; Rebekka Olson, sr.; Rilee Britton, sr.; Giselle Jimenez, jr.

Outlook: The Rangers have five returning letter-winners from last season, hoping to extend the season after having no representation at the state meet. Diamond has high hopes for freshman Aubrey Surage, who could push for a varsity spot.

Mesa Ridge

Coach: Carl Burgess

Key returners: Chloe Welch, sr.; Sarah Kay, sr.; Emily Borchard, sr.; Aliyah Gonzalez, sr.

Outlook: The Grizzlies are led by Welch, a double-threat athlete who also stars for the perennial state-power girls' basketball team. She was her team's top finisher at Friday's Cheyenne Mountain Stampede, placing 27th in the 4A race.

Palmer Ridge

Coach: Rob Collins

Key returners: Madeleine Bonneau, sr.; Anna Busath, so.; Katie Cole, jr.; Aubrey Wood, sr.

Outlook: The Bears, under the direction of a first-year coach in Collins, narrowly missed out on receiving a runner-up trophy at last year's 4A state meet, finishing only two points out of second place. Confidence is high that the Bears can make up that ground, and possibly more, this season with the loss of only one senior from the varsity squad. Freshman Isabella Prosceno gave the Bears a boost this weekend at the Vista Nation 2-Mile Invitational, placing 11th overall in her debut for the team's top finish.

Pine Creek

Coach: Steve Flannery

Key returners: Klara Aspelin, sr.; Brooke Coleman, so.

Outlook: The Eagles finished fourth in the 4A team standings last year, only three points out of second place but graduated their top three runners off that squad. It's a new frontier for the team, which is coached by Flannery following the retirement of Max Oliver, who had led the program for the previous 17 seasons.

Widefield

Coach: Erik Nelson

Key returners: Kaitlyn Anderson, jr.; Maddy Rodrigues, so.; Tabitha Frandsen, sr.

Outlook: The Gladiators qualified their entire team for the 4A meet last year and have most of the pieces back to make another run and improve on a 20th-place finish. Anderson placed 64th at state for her team's top individual finish. While experience is a strength, Nelson noted that "we need to take our performances to the next level for our team to improve."

3A

The Classical Academy

Coach: Alan Versaw

Key returners: McKenzie Elliott, sr.; Katie Flaherty, jr.

Outlook: Overall, the Titans are young in terms of age and experience. By the end of the season, however, Versaw believes his team will have found its identity and have received contributions from new team members. They'll follow the lead set by Flaherty and Elliott, who finished ninth and 11th, respectively, at last season's 3A state meet.

Woodland Park

Coach: Mike Schoudel

Key returners: Natalie Graber, sr.; Sandra Dillinger, sr.; Kelsie Bragg, sr.

Outlook: Dillinger had a solid start to the season Friday, placing 25th overall at the Cheyenne Mountain Stampede. The team's strength thus far has been its closeness despite the many diverse backgrounds.

2A

Colorado Springs School

Coach: Jocelyn Burke

Key returners: Kate Griffin, so.

Outlook: Griffin is the lone returner off a senior-laden squad that qualified for state and recorded a 10th-place finish. Burke, in her fourth season, said she's focused on rebuilding the program and developing the team's young runners through training and experience in races.

Ellicott

Coach: Jim Van Hoesen

Key returners: Gabriela Munoz, so.

Outlook: As it stands right now, Munoz is the team's lone runner. She barely missed qualifying for the state meet last season.

Pikes Peak Christian

Coach: Lisa Ratterree

Key returner: Milla Gary

Outlook: At press time, Gary was the program's lone member.

James Irwin Charter

Coach: Leonard Winters

Key returners: Natalie Pollock, jr.; Alyssa Cordova, sr.; MyAnna Winters, fr.

Outlook: The Jaguars welcome a host of first-time high school cross country runners, and the return of Pollock, who paced James Irwin last year and narrowly missing the state-qualifying mark. Winters hopes the new talent will put the team in a position to qualify for states.