As the summer days begin to fade away, it's nearly time to start looking to the fall. The official start of practice is just weeks away and once the ball gets rolling, the 2019-20 athletic season will consume coaches, athletes and fans for the better part of nine months.
Over the last few weeks, CHSAANow.com has featured returning stat leaders from various sports (football leaders will come next week), but the real question that lingers is who is everyone excited to see?
So we asked.
We shot emails to various outlets throughout the state and asked them who they're excited to see once competition starts next month while adding a few names of our own.
The Pueblo Chieftain's Marcus Hill and Austin White
Athlete: Marvin London Jr.
School: Pueblo East
Why to watch: Marvin London Jr. had a team-high 73 receptions for the Eagles last season. He also had 1,083 yards and seven touchdowns — both second to only Kain Medrano.
Athlete: Samantha Meehan
School: Pueblo County
Why to watch: The Hornets senior ran rampant through the South-Central League last season and helped Pueblo County go 10-0 in league play. She led the Hornets with 284 kills, 24 aces. Meehan along with the core of Hornets hope to repeat as S-CL champs this season.
CHSAANow.com's Dan Mohrmann
Athlete: Trey Jones
School: Palmer Ridge
Sport: Boys golf
Why to watch: Jones has a little bit of work cut out for him this fall, but in terms of the Colorado Springs area, he's one of the top returning golfers. He finished tied for 18th at the Class 4A state tournament and this summer tied for 14th in the JGAC Junior PGA Championship on the difficult Blue Course at the Air Force Academy.
9News' Taylor Temby
Athlete: Katie Fankhouser
Sport: Girls Cross Country
Why to watch: Katie is a phenomenal multi-sport athlete. This fall, the 2018 runner of the year will look to defend her 2A cross-country individual state title, one that helped the Lions claim just their second ever team championship. A side note - she is also the third ranked female junior freestyle kayaker in the WORLD. To say she is competitive would be a huge understatement.
Athlete: Gavin Sawchuk
School: Valor Christian
Why to watch: Expect Gavin to carry the same energy and momentum from his freshman season into his sophomore campaign. He put up 13 touchdowns for the Eagles in 2018 - in large part due to his speed. Sawchuk posted the fastest 100m dash time in the Colorado during the spring track and field season, and he already boasts several D1 football offers.
Athlete: Alexisius "Q" Jones
School: Fountain-Fort Carson
Why to watch: Q. Jones had anything but a good ending to his season. In his first year in a Trojan varsity uniform, he amassed 1,738 all-purpose yards. But his season was cut short due to a leg injury. FFC coach Jake Novotny told us this summer that Jones will be ready to go. He's reportedly getting looks from the University of Colorado and Wyoming and the list is expected to grow upon his return to the field.
The Coloradoan's Kevin Lytle
Athlete: Nikki McGaffin
School: Fossil Ridge
Why to watch: McGaffin starred in the pitching circle as a freshman in 2018 to help the SaberCats win 21 games. She went 14-1 with a 1.78 ERA (second in 5A), striking out 122 in 90.1 innings pitched.
Athlete: Tate Satterfield
Why to watch: Satterfield was eighth in 5A in 2018 with 1,238 rush yards, scoring 14 touchdowns on the ground. He’ll be a key part of an experience Poudre team that could challenge for the Front Range League title.
The Durango Herald's John Livingston
Athlete: Madeleine Burns
School: Durango High School
Sport: Girls Cross Country
Why to watch: A year after Burns finished 13th in the 4A girls cross country state race, she is back as a senior looking for a podium finish for the Demons. Last spring, she won the girls 3,200 meter run at the 4A state track and field meet and backed it up with a third-place finish in the 1,600. She broke the school record in the 5K last year the Liberty Bell Invitational and is primed for a big senior season after a summer of competing around the country.
Athlete: Millie O'Ketter
School: Durango High School
Why to watch: A senior libero and outside hitter, O'Ketter has already verbally committed to Northern Arizona University to play Division I volleyball. This summer, she competed in the Global Challenge International volleyball tournament in Croatia, helping her team to a 5-2 overall record in the udner-18 division with the lone losses coming to first-place Italy and second-place Netherlands. She led her team with 47 of the squad's 111 digs and also led the team in serve receive accuracy and was second in assists.
Athlete: Leland Heinicke
School: Durango High
Sport: Boys soccer
Why to watch: As a junior, Heinicke had a team-high 14 goals and added four assists to help lead the Demons to the fourth seed in the 4A state tournament. At 6-foot-4, Heinicke is dangers when he gets his head on the ball in set pieces, and he has the skill to once again lead Durango on a playoff push.
Other athletes to watch:
Laurin Krings (Loveland softball): The returning 5A player of the year is on a mission to bring home a state championship.
Amelia McCarthy (Cherry Creek field hockey): After falling short in the state championship game last year, McCarthy has the talent to take the Bruins to the top of the field hockey mountain.
Kole Taylor (Grand Junction Central football): Taylor hauled in eight touchdown catches in 2018 and recently committed to LSU. He makes the Warriors an instant threat when he's on the field.
Cruz Culpepper (Niwot boys cross country): Last year's 4A champ has ambitions of defending his championship this fall.