- Mike Grimala, ESPNHS
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When you think of traditional lacrosse hotbeds, the usual suspects are grouped together in the mid-Atlantic region -- Virginia; Maryland; Long Island, N.Y.; etc.
But a new hot zone may be emerging out west. Colorado is producing elite players and fielding some of the best high school teams in the country, and the national spotlight will be shining on the region Aug. 13-15, when the Warrior 40 will be held in Commerce City, Colo.
The marquee event will provide an opportunity for Colorado to assert itself as a budding superpower, as the nation’s best players in the classes of 2013-14 compete.
The Rocky Mountain State will be well represented in the game, with three Colorado natives on the Warrior 40 roster.
Pete Aplet, a Wheat Ridge (Colo.) attackman in the Class of 2013, is part of the home-grown trio, as is Regis Jesuit (Aurora, Colo.) defender Brian Wegner (2013).
The third member of the hometown group is Wilkins Dismuke, an attackman from Rock Canyon (Littleton, Colo.). He's ranked No. 17 in the ESPNHS Top 50 Juniors list, and he's no stranger to the Warrior 40 -- he scored three goals and won Offensive MVP honors at last year's event, which was held in Boston.
Dismuke is relishing the chance to perform closer to home this time around.
"The atmosphere at last year's game was great," Dismuke said, "but having it in my home state of Colorado is very exciting. It's going to be a lot of fun."
Dismuke thinks this could be an opportunity for Colorado to show how far it's come in the lacrosse world.
"Normally, kids back east look at Colorado and the west coast and think it's not up to the same level," Dismuke said. "But I think it's really coming on strong. The last couple years we've had a lot of kids going to Division I, and I think we already have eight or nine kids from my class who have committed to DI schools. The talent is there."
Colorado’s ascent isn’t limited to producing elite players. The level of competition in the region is getting better and better, with teams breaking into the national rankings. Arapahoe (Littleton, Colo.) went 19-0 en route to a state title in 2012 and finished the season ranked No. 33 in the POWERADE FAB 50.
And the state's recent surge may not be limited to the high school level. While Dismuke has committed to college powerhouse Johns Hopkins, Aplet and Wegner are staying close to home, as both have pledged to Denver.