Returning champions galore highlight the girls track and field season, as a plethora of individual winners from last year will have a shot at defending their titles. The team championships? Those are also up for grabs. Here's a brief preview of the 2011 girls track and field season.

5A: While Riverton's boys team inched out Davis for the state title, the girls won in a landslide in 2010. The closest competitor (Davis) was more than 50 points in the rearview mirror.

With few returning individual winners, though, experience and team depth will play a huge role in the 5A championship chase. Riverton's Taylor Gomez is the standout runner for the Silverwolves. She took second place in both the 100 and 400 meters, Sylvia Harrison of Davis, meanwhile, took third in the 400 meters and will look to improve this year.

4A: 2010 was the battle of the freshmen at the 4A state meet, as Ogden's Avery Calton won the 1600 and 3200 and took second in the 800. Fellow freshman Summer Harper, of Orem, wasn't far behind and will challenge Calton again this season.

Besides the two freshmen, there are a number of returning champions to watch this year. Springville's Kaisa Rosenberg won the 100-, 200- and 400-meter sprints, while Snow Canyon's Lexie Esplin won the 100-meter hurdles. Emily Moore of Mountain Crest won the 300-meter hurdles.

Early on in the season, Springville's Lexi Eaton, who was the 4A girls basketball MVP, has been a force in the long jump and high jump.

3A: Park City won last year, and the Miners will be among the favorites again this season.

Park City took each of the top five spots in the 3200 last year, and three of those runners — Rebecca Cunningham, McKenzie Snyder and Emily Schmidt — will compete again this year.

Other returning winners include Hurricane's Angela Shields, who won the 100- and 300-meter hurdles, Bear River's Kaitlyn Wilcox, who won the 200 and 400 meters, and Damara Walker of Judge, who placed first in the long jump.

2A: Out of all the classifications, 2A returns the most individual winners. They are: North Summit's Erica Birk won the 1600 and 3200; Parowan's Stephanie Harwood sprinted to wins in the 100, 200 and 400; Jodi Williams of Enterprise won the high jump; North Summit's Erica Richins won the 100-meter hurdles; Samantha Nicholes, also of North Summit, won the long jump; Grand's Rachel Garrett won the shot put; Enterprise's Anden Lyman won the Javelin; and Tressa Lyman of Enterprise won the 800 and the 300-meter hurdles and took second in the 100-meter hurdles and high jump.

Repeat winners this year? Probably.

North Summit, which won in 2010, along with Parowan and Enterprise, will be the frontrunners for the 2011 team title.

1A: St. Joseph won going away in 2010 and the Jayhawks are the favorites to take the team title again.

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"St. Joseph will be strong with all the returning distance runners," Rich coach Glenn Smith said. "The rest of the teams will probably be trying for second."

Alex Shaw of St. Joseph won the 1600 last year, while teammate Andrea Chavez took second place. Shaw also took second in the 3200. Chavez captured her own individual title in the 800 meters.

Other returning individual winners include: Rich's Jessica Weston (100-meter hurdles), Monticello's Macee Nielson (3200), Manila's Emily Catron (400), Panguitch's Kalani Norris (discus) and Green River's Sarah Swalberg (javelin).

email: mpayne@desnews.com