Air Force’s wishbone football was one of the most sought after programs by the Big 12 and Big East during realignment, but they stayed put. Air Force joins the flagship Colorado Buffaloes, Colorado St., Denver, Northern Colorado, and the University of Denver (with nationally-ranked tennis player Henry Craig pictured from the fittest state).
This is the state to produce the first athlete to draw a million-dollar gate in heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey, who did it almost 100 years ago.
We ran the Value Add Sports calculations on all returning Colorado athletes and emailed 32 sports writers and other experts in the state to help rank the 25 state players to watch on a list we will update here.
The joke is that you need to have a body-fat test before entering the state of Colorado. The residents are notoriously fit and active, with teams enjoying the advantage of the high altitude over visitors. Marquette’s women’s basketball team once upset Denver in the NIT and credited having one of the first altitude chambers for their workouts. Most visiting teams are not so lucky.
Distance runners in particular will have trouble keeping up with our top athlete to watch, Morgan Pearson, in the 10,000 meter run anywhere but particularly running at altitude. Josh Scott will help Colorado continue to be a tough basketball out when teams like UCLA come up from sea level for a game.
While John Elway hopes Peyton Manning can duplicate his late-career championship a mile above sea level, Craig and women’s tennis star Julia O’Loughlin are just two of several Denver student-athletes excelling in Summit League play. Ray Bornman is the top newcomer on the swimming and diving team, while Francesca Garzelloni is a two time all-conference soccer player and Petter Mikkalsen went all-conference and all-region in golf.
The top 20 to watch are:
- Morgan Pearson, Colorado, Track/Field, 10,000m Run
- Josh Scott, Colorado, Basket, C
- Emmanuel Omogbo, Colorado St., Basket, PF
- Trevor Moore, UniversityofDenver, Hockey-Men
- Trevor Lyons, Air Force, Basket, SG
- Henry Craig, Denver, Tennis,
- Sefo Liufau, Colorado Buffaloes, Foot, QB
- Wesley Gordon, Colorado, Basket, PF
- Julia O’Loughlin, Denver, Tennis,
- Rashard Higgins, Colorado State Rams, Foot, Rec
- Kenan Guzonjic, Colorado, Basket, PF
- Petter Mikkalsen, Denver, Golf,
- Andrew Goodman, Colorado St., Track/Field, 3,000m Steeplechase
- Francesca Garzelloni, Denver, Soccer,
- Ray Bornman, Denver, Swimming/Diving,
- Alex Hansen, Air Force Falcons, Foot, DE
- Nate Engesser, Denver, Basket, SG
- Dallas Anglin, Northern Colorado/2017, Basket, SG
- Christian Powell, Colorado, Foot, RB
- Spencer Proctor, Air Force, Foot, LB