ESPN RISE takes a look at the teams to watch this month in this area:
Girls' Swimming -- Fairview
Coach Bob Smartt is expecting the "Michael Phelps
bump" of increased participation this season. These days,
he'll take anything in his attempt to upend Cherry Creek,
the state's perennial powerhouse. "They have a lot of
advantages," Smartt says of Cherry Creek. "We don't even
have our own pool. But our goal is to have 25 girls at
state." Fairview has been the Class 5A state runner-up for
four consecutive seasons and will be right in the mix this
season as well. Junior Lauren Rigg, in addition to being an
excellent swimmer, is one of the team's biggest leaders.
"She's a big-meet swimmer," Smartt says. "When state rolls
around, she has a way of rallying and doing really well."
Rigg is the defending Class 5A champ in the 100 fly. Junior
Taylor Kitayama is a distinguished synchronized swimmer,
but is also an up-and-coming swimmer, and Smartt says
her racing has improved tremendously. "She's really got a
feel for the water," he says. "She was an honorable mention
All-American last year, and that's rare for someone who's
not a year-round swimmer." Seniors Rachael Cazden and
sisters Tara and Tasia DeMuth add to a team with tremendous
depth. Cazden was sick before last year's state meet
but worked through it for the sake of her teammates.
Sophomores Caroline Patterson and Sidney Pare add
youth to a squad already loaded with experience.
Boys' Swimming -- Conifer
The Lobos finished fourth at last year's Class 4A state swimming championships, bolstered in part by the strength of
the relays — the teams finished runner-up twice and also earned a fourth-place finish. This year's team holds great
promise, as many of last year's top contributors return. Senior Christian Treat, who was the runner-up in the 200 free,
returns to the team, as does senior Craig Fowler, a sprinter, and sophomore Franz Sawyer, a backstroke specialist.
Girls' Basketball -- Roosevelt
Despite outscoring Holy Family in the second half of last year's Class 3A state semifinal, the Rough Riders came up
short against the eventual champs. But Roosevelt looks to this season with renewed enthusiasm. The leading scorer in
Class 3A last year was Sendy Valles, and the 5-foot-10 junior and All-State first team selection hopes to continue her
tremendous play to lead the team. She'll be joined by senior Alex Morford, who also earned All-State honors.
Boys' Basketball -- Caliche
Caliche suffered only two losses last year. Unfortunately for the Buffaloes, the second came in the state final -- a
three-point loss to Hi-Plains. Yet with three players making the Class 1A All-State first and second teams, all of whom
return this year, it is clear the Buffalos have the talent to win it all. Look for senior Craig Debus, a first team selection, and
seniors John Wright and Cody Zink, both on the second team, to lead the Buffaloes.
BREAK OUT TEAMS
BOYS' ICE HOCKEY -- ASPEN
Junior Daniel Doremus leads a team that nearly knocked off eventual champ Regis last year.
GIRLS' BASKETBALL -- LAKEWOOD
All-State senior Erica Hicks hopes to propel the Tigers past the state quarterfinals.
WRESTLING -- FORT LUPTON
At 125 pounds, senior Dale Shull has a state title to defend this year.
GIRLS' SWIMMING -- WINDSOR
Junior Mackenzie Norlin could be in contention in multiple events at state.