Several defending state champions return for more hardware, led by distance standouts Kari Hardt of Queen Creek and Jillian Klassen of Scottsdale Christian, both multiple state champions.
No season would be complete without a Valley Christian girls championship and the Trojans appear headed for their 11th straight championship.
Another defending team champion, Queen Creek, moves up from 3A to 4A-II and will be worth watching. If the Bulldogs can add points to the 30 or so Hardt will score at the state meet, they could be right in the running.
In 5A Division I, the team race this season should come down to Desert Vista and Chandler. Both teams have several returners and will duke it out at several invitationals throughout the season.
TEAMS TO WATCH
1. Valley Christian: With athletes like Shamesha Smith and Kim Wigboldy leading the way, the Trojans will remain the clear favorites in 2A.
2. Desert Vista: The Thunder fell just short of Phoenix South Mountain (now in 5A-II) a year ago and have many key components back. Plus, with more than 200 athletes in the program, Desert Vista always finds people who can perform.
3. Queen Creek: With the state's best distance runner in Kari Hardt likely scoring 30-plus points at the state meet, the Bulldogs, winners of the last two titles in 3A, will just need to find some other pieces to challenge in 4A-II.
4. McClintock: Jasmine Chaney will rack up multiple points for the Chargers, who enter the season as the favorites in the Desert Sky Region.
5. Chandler: The Wolves have two standouts returning in Leah Benton and Alex Cunningham and if things fall into place, Chandler could be right in the mix of things at state.
TOP 5 PERFORMERS
Kari Hardt, Queen Creek: The diminutive distance runner is recovering from a stress fracture in her foot, but don't let the slow start fool you. She'll soon be atop the charts in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200.
Jillian Klassen, Scottsdale Christian: The junior fell just short of sweeping the distance events in 2A last season and looks to complete the feat this year.
C.J. Navarro, Desert Ridge: Won both the shot put and discus in 4A last year and should repeat that feat this season in 5A-II.
Jaci Perryman, Desert Vista: Defending state champion in the pole vault will set her sights on 13-feet this season.
Jasmine Chaney, McClintock: Posted the best time in the state in the 100-meter hurdles as a junior last year and won both hurdle events at state.
Katie Ponsness, Basha, Sr., hurdles
Carolyn Boge, Basha, Jr., sprints
Whitney Wiley, Basha, Sr., sprints
Jocelyn York, Basha, Sr., hurdles
Leah Benton, Chandler, Jr., sprints
Alex Cunningham, Chandler, Sr., sprints
Lindsey Dorwieler, Corona del Sol, So., distance
Samia Stokes, Corona del Sol, Jr., throws
Jen Dittburner, Desert Mountain, Sr., distance
Patricia Barela, Desert Vista, So., distance
Meagan Berg, Desert Vista, Sr., throws
Rebecca Nelson, Desert Vista, Sr., hurdles/sprints
Shawn-tae Greene, Dobson, So., sprints
Courtney Hayes, Dobson, Jr., jumps
Courtney Golden, Gilbert, So., distance
Brittany Golden, Gilbert, Sr., distance
Kathryn Munoz, Hamilton, Jr., hurdles
Cassie DeSalvo, Highland, So., distance
Chelsea Johnson, Highland, Jr., jumps
Chelsea Chauvet, Horizon, Jr., distance
Marin Gross, Horizon, So., distance
Ashley Ross, Horizon, Sr., hurdles/jumps
Naomi Jimenez, Marcos de Niza, So., sprints/distance
Samantha Meyerhoff, Marcos de Niza, So., distance
Yasha Coleman, Marcos de Niza, Sr., throws
Trisha Westbrook, Mesa, Sr., sprints
Kristin Phillips, Mountain Pointe, Sr., distance
Aubri Carman, Mountain Pointe, Jr., distance
Paige Christensen, Mountain View, Sr., distance
Brooke Jackson, Mountain View, Sr., sprints
Brooke McNaughton, Mountain View, Sr., throws
Tressa Steele, Paradise Valley, So., sprints
Chelsea Fisk, Paradise Valley, Sr., mid-distance
Chevis Trotter, Red Mountain, Sr., sprints
Lauren Reich, Red Mountain, Sr., distance
Adele Keating, Xavier, Sr., distance
Natalie Johnson, Xavier, Jr., sprints
Clair Kosters, Arcadia, Sr., hurdles
Jessica Carter, Arcadia, Jr., distance
Christine Bramer, Cactus Shadows, So., distance
Andrea Hatch, Cactus Shadows, Sr., sprints
Sara Pages, Cactus Shadows, Jr., sprints
Haley Struthers, Chaparral, xx, sprints
Brittany Davis, Chaparral, xx, sprints
Lauren Rosenquist, Chaparral, Jr., distance
Blair Crawford, Chaparral, xx, hurdles
Megan-Anne Perrin, Fountain Hills, Sr., distance
Keandra Glass, Coolidge, Sr., hurdles
Cherish Farnsworth, Higley, Sr., hurdles
Kelsey Wood, Higley, Jr., jumps
Trinity Nance, Higley, So., sprints
Nicole Copeland, Maricopa, Sr., sprints
Laura Ostler, McClintock, So., distance
Brittany Quinn, Pinnacle, Jr., distance
Hailey Buscher, Queen Creek, Jr., hurdles
Tamara Lemalu, Queen Creek, Sr., throws
Alex Hiber, Saguaro, Jr., distance
Loren Wynn, Saguaro, Fr., distance
Caitlin Cameron, Scottsdale Christian, Jr., distance
Katie Carriers, Seton, Sr., sprints
Lindsay Warburton, Seton, Sr., distance
Stefanee Livingston, Tempe, xx, sprints
Patrillya Jefferson, Tempe, XX, sprints/hurdles
Kim Wigboldy, Valley Christian, Jr., hurdles
Brielle Smith, Valley Christian, So., distance
Shamesha Smith, Valley Christian, Jr., hurdles/jumps