Though the weather isn't cooperating quite yet, it's time again for track and field to hit full speed throughout the state. Here's a peek at the boys landscape heading into the season:
5A: Last year's state meet was about as close at it could get, as Riverton edged Davis by only a point and a half to claim the 5A boys championship. Pleasant Grove, meanwhile, finished eight points back.
Only two non-seniors — American Fork's Austin West (3200 meters) and Syracuse's Hunter Naisbitt (shot put) — won individual titles last year, so the field is wide open for new individuals and teams to lay their claim to 5A supremacy.
Davis, which won in both 2008 and 2009, is always a threat to run away with the title. The Darts will be led by Austin Neuner, Dalton Facer and Tyson Bullock. Cole Lambourne, who placed fifth in the 400 meters, returns to help Riverton, and Pleasant Grove's Alex Compton should excel in the 100 and 200 meters.
Hillcrest's Bubba Pecht is one of the top remaining short-distance sprinters, and Jordan Nelson of Copper Hills finished in the top five in the 110-meter hurdles.
4A: Orem took last year's boys title, with Box Elder and Maple Mountain close behind. With the Tigers' senior-heavy team mostly gone, though, the Bees and Golden Eagles will be set to pounce.
Spencer Hanson of Maple Mountain won the 1600 and finished second to Box Elder's Braden Perry in the 3200 by eight-hundredths of a second at last year's state meet. Both will run again this year, which should make for another tight finish.
Jaron Bytheway of East, who won the long jump, is the only other returning individual winner.
3A: Recent history says that Hurricane will once again be the team to beat, as the Tigers captured their second straight 3A title last season, beating second-place Cedar for the second consecutive season.
"Hurricane is really good every year," Cedar coach Josh Bennett said. "We've come close the past few years but haven't been able to top them."
The Redmen, though, feel they have learned from their oh-so-close finishes and are set to make another run at the title. Led by Treyson Fullmer and Danny Stevenson, along with Keith Demille and Jesse Woods, who took 1-2 in the discus last year, Cedar boasts a deep team with a wealth of big-meet experience.
"One thing we have going for us is that we have a strong senior class," Bennett said. "We have a core group of kids who work really hard every day. They are goal-oriented and expect to compete for a state title."
Jordan Prince, who took second in the 3200, along with Adam Thompson and Jesse Betridge, will lead a deep Hurricane team this season. Ben Saarel and Park City, along with Canyon View and Desert Hills, are also teams to watch.
2A: Parowan, North Summit and San Juan finished within 10 points of each other in last year's state meet, with the Rams coming out on top. Ammon Blauer, who won the 3200 and 1600, and Zack Wood, who won the long jump, will try to help Parowan defend its title.
South Sevier's Michael Abbott will also be back after racing to wins in the 100 and 200 meters last year.
1A: Rich took home the boys title for the second consecutive year last year, though a strong senior class has since departed and the gap between the Rebels and the rest of the field has diminished significantly.
"Monticello and Duchesne should have strong returning teams," Rich coach Glenn Smith said. "We lost a lot of strong runners from last year."
Cody Groll, Caden Calder and Parker Stuart will lead a revamped Rich squad. Dallin Duncan and Devin Wright are among the returning standouts for Monticello, which took second place last year, while Macoy Young adds speed in the short distance races for Duchesne, which placed third last season.
Daniel Philpot from St. Joseph won the 800- and 1600-meter races last year and will look to defend his individual titles.
Copyright 2017, Deseret News Publishing Company