Hicks: Taking a peek into my crystal ball

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Predicting, maybe, what’s ahead for 2013

By Michael Hicks

It doesn’t take one long to notice when they walk into my home what day of the week it is. There are calendars everywhere — the kitchen, my kids’ bedrooms, my bedroom and so forth. So with the Christmas presents unwrapped and new calendars galore put up around the house it just reminds me how quickly 2012 flew by.
Zip. It was here and then it was gone.
I certainly can’t remember a year coming and going as fast as the last one did. And, rest assured, 2013 will be just as fast, if not faster. I am getting older after all.
But as I reflected back on the past 12 months I remembered how successful a lot of our area sports programs were. We, as fans, parents and journalists, were treated to a bevy of athletic performances that left us breathless. And 2013 will be the same.
So as we look forward, I offer to the readers of Evergreen Newspapers a few fearless predictions for what to expect over the next 12 months.
• OK, I know that Columbine won the 5A Jeffco League boys basketball title last year for the first time since 1999. And, yes, the Rebels still have Jon Snow. But I believe Chatfield, not Columbine nor Arvada West or Dakota Ridge, will win the the conference title this year. The 6-1 Chargers have four players scoring in double figures and that doesn’t count three-point threat Brendan Mann or key contributor Anthony Shoeboot. Plus the Chargers play a trapping style of defense.
• This isn’t so much a prediction as it is almost a guarantee. Evergreen’s Lexie Malazdrewicz will repeat as the 4A state champion in the 200- and 500-yard freestyle. The University of Southern Cal-bound swimmer is too talented not to. So that wouldn’t surprise me. What also wouldn’t be a total shock, though it will be an uphill climb, especially considering Thompson Valley’s usual depth, is if the Lady Cougars were to win a 4A state team title. It’s not out of the question.
• Head coach Mike Anderson, unlike last year, can focus his attention solely on Front Range Christian’s girls basketball team this season. Considering the Lady Falcons are off to a 4-1 start and have a senior leader in Katherine Oosthuizen, Anderson just might like what he’ll see on the hardwood in 2013. No, I don’t believe the Lady Falcons will win a league title, but I do see them making some noise. Even a potential upset or two at regionals could be in the cards.
• Assuming the Lady Golddiggers can find a replacement goalkeeper for the graduated Kelsey Valdez, Clear Creek will prove that last year’s trip to the 3A state girls soccer tournament was not a fluke. As long as the team has leading goal scorer Ally Huff in tow there’s little reason to not expect another trip to the postseason.
• It took Platte Canyon 37 years to win another baseball conference championship, sharing last year’s 3A Frontier League title with Middle Park and Bennett. But this year, Platte Canyon should win the title all on its own. The Huskies’ biggest threat would be Middle Park, but the Panthers graduated five of their top seven players. That in itself should give Platte Canyon hope that an outright title is theirs for the taking, assuming it doesn’t get ahead of itself.
• I won’t say that the Evergreen Cougars’ boys lacrosse team will win a conference title in 2012. I’m not certain that they can, even if CHSAA has split lacrosse into two classifications for the first time. EHS does have to replace its top two scorers in Braden Olson and Reilly Fletcher. It replaced head coach Jon Cohen with Zach Buckley. But in the new-look Foothills Conference only Wheat Ridge and Green Mountain should be Evergreen’s toughest challenges en route to a first championship.
• Yes, Conifer’s boys soccer team will graduate its top five goal scorers from 2012, including Keefer Whaley, who scored eight goals. I’m counting on second-year head coach George Hunt’s system, and a solid defensive core, to be the difference in getting the Lobos – yes, Conifer – into the 4A state playoffs in 2013. After all, Conifer, which tied Wheat Ridge for third place in the 4A Jeffco League with a 4-2-1 mark, wasn’t that far off last season.
• If Jeff Miller was stunned — happily so — about his Clear Creek girls cross country team qualifying for  the 3A state meet for the first time in 11 years last October just imagine how elated he’ll feel this year when they qualify again. To boot, don’t count out a possible 3A Frontier League championship. Clear Creek could do it.
• Speaking of cross country, mark this down now. Platte Canyon’s Jacob Benson — yes, I know he attends South Park High School — will win the 3A state championship. The two-time 3A Frontier League champion was a hair away from it in October, finishing second at the Norris Penrose Event Center in Colorado Springs. This time, there will be no denying him.
• OK, so Dakota Ridge has to replace its starting quarterback in Zac Koch. I get that. And that will be some tough shoes to fill. As will be the ones of replacing Josh Morrison, Evan Swaynie and Jake Ianella among others. But the Eagles were knocking on the door in 2012 with the likes of Wheat Ridge, Green Mountain and state runner-up Denver South in the 4A Plains Conference. In 2013, call it a hunch, they just must knock that door in.
• Truthfully, after graduating 21 starters from the 2011 conference championship team, the Evergreen Cougars’ football squad had no business going 6-4 in 2012. But it did. Now, sure there are a number of seniors that will need to be replaced — John Cassell, Connor Kissler, Trey Tosetti, Josh Toler, to name a few. But Rob Molholm’s team will make the 3A state playoffs in 2013. I won’t say they’ll necessarily win the conference title — D’Evelyn and Conifer, even with all their graduated seniors, may have something to say about that. But Evergreen will be in the playoffs for the third time in four years.
• It’s Elizabeth, it’s Evergreen. The next year it’s vice-versa. These two giants of the 4A gymnastics world seemingly go back and forth as to whom has the better program year in and year out. In 2012, Elizabeth recaptured the top spot, partially because the Lady Cougars graduated so many key members from their 2011 state championship team. That shouldn’t change in 2013, but I would give Marnie Bello’s team a fighting chance — a good one at that — of winning state for the third time since 2008.
That’s just a small sampling of what we could expect in 2012. Yet, all that said, don’t go placing wages in Las Vegas. In all likelihood, I’ll be proven wrong more times than not. Hopefully, though, that will be in a good way.