Candace Eddy is not taking anything for granted.
The Davis High distance runner pulled off a rare feat by sweeping state titles in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters a second time last spring. Eddy, a junior, knows she will be favored to repeat. But she also knows other distance runners will be gunning for her.
Becoming a three-time double state champion under those circumstances is never easy.
"I can't really make that a goal to get first," Eddy said. "Of course, the goal is to get the highest place at state. But I can't really be disappointed if I don't. I can't get too discouraged."
Eddy's cautious outlook doesn't mask the fact that she is among several returning 5A state champions who look to dominate their chosen events once again.
The sprints and middle distance races should see either Nachelle or Natalie Stewart come out on top like they have the past couple of seasons. The twin sisters, now seniors at Spanish Fork, have proven nearly impossible to beat since joining the Dons' track program.
During their respective high school careers, Nachelle and Natalie have combined to capture a total of nine state titles in the 100, 200, 400 and 800 meters.
Their presence alone is enough to give Spanish Fork a shot at repeating as 5A state champion. The Dons' biggest competition could come from Davis. The Darts boast enough depth to be a tough opponent for just about anyone.
Besides Eddy, the Darts have 2007 cross country state champion Natalie Haws to utilize in the distance events. Brooke Jensen, a junior, should be strong in the hurdles after finishing third a year ago.
"We're strong in the distance races and we have a few other places where we can score points," Davis coach Corbin Talley said.
Riverton, a two-time Region 3 champion, could also be a factor. The Silverwolves will be led by junior Brianne Campbell, a top-three finisher at state in both the high jump and long jump last season.
In 4A, it appears Utah County schools will set the pace again. That area of the state produced last season's top-two girls teams in Orem and Springville and has provided the last six 4A team champions overall. Although the Tigers graduated a host of seniors, the Red Devils bring back some top athletes.
Natalie Young, a state champion in the 400, returns. So does Allissa Huffaker, who finished second in the 100 hurdles to Orem's Mindy Robbins.
Springville is deep in sprinters and hurdlers, but coach Jeff Wales thinks Huffaker and Young could make the biggest impact.
"Those two are potential state champions in five events, really," Wales said.
Judge Memorial won the 3A team title a year ago its fifth in in six years. The Bulldogs could see a drop-off after graduating Sam McMillan, a formidable runner who claimed state titles in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200. Runner-up Ogden might also take a step back after losing Katelyn Jensen, a state title winner in four events the 100, 200, 400 and long jump.
Cedar could make a move upward with junior Shaye Maurer returning. Maurer made a major impact on the hurdles and short distance races as a sophomore, winning a state title in the 100 hurdles and placing second in the 200 meters and the 300 hurdles.North Sevier and Rich will look to defend team titles in 2A and 1A, respectively. The Rebels claimed their second straight championship a year ago, and the Wolves took home a second title in three years.