2017 was good to the Pikes Peak region.
State championships, regional titles, milestones and a few unforgettable moments were just a few of the highlights from yet another successful year.
Relive some of the top Gazette Preps moments from 2017.
Pikes Peak region brings home 13 team state titles
Four area schools secured multiple state championship trophies in 2017 as the Pikes Peak region welcomed 13 team CHSAA titles home.
- What is in the water in Monument?
Palmer Ridge brought home three state championships in fall 2017, starting with the boys’ cross country team, which secured its second straight 4A team title. Then the field hockey team joined in, earning the program’s first state championship after years of falling just short.
And in early December the Bears’ football team completed the trifecta by hoisting Monument’s first football state championship trophy after completing a perfect 14-0 season.
In addition to Palmer Ridge’s success, the Bears’ neighbor Lewis-Palmer
brought home an additional state title, claiming the school’s second straight volleyball championship after an undefeated run, all the while losing just six sets on the season.
- Air Academy nabs two state titles
The Kadets secured a pair of state championships in 2017 in dramatic fashion. First, the girls’ track and field team earned the program’s first state title after a wild weekend of snow and postponements. Then, months later, the boys’ soccer team completed its second undefeated season in four years to win the program’s fourth state championship in an overtime thriller.
- The Classical Academy runners find success
TCA girls claimed the 3A track and field championship with a decisive 24-point victory over second-place Elizabeth. The Classical Academy won the title with nine top-five finishes including three gold medals.
In the fall, the boys’ cross country team flexed its muscle by winning the 3A state title behind five finishes in the top 30, including individual state champion Mason Norman.
- Cheyenne Mountain sweeps swim, continues girls’ tennis dynasty
The Cheyenne Mountain girls’ swim team won its first state championship in 15 years in February, while the boys clinched their third straight state title in the spring. The girls came home with three first-place finishes, two from relays and one individual — Cat Wright’s 200 individual medley relay, which broke Missy Franklin’s 2009 pool record.
The Cheyenne Mountain boys hauled in seven gold medals on the way to a state championship.
The girls tennis team won its ninth straight state title, and 22nd overall in decisive fashion after earning six event titles, including a complete sweep of the doubles championships.
The Indians were anchored by No. 1 doubles team Casey Ahrendsen and Ally Arenson, who won four-straight state titles and lost just one match in their career.
- Fountain-Fort Carson, Vista Ridge boys earn track and field titles
Fountain-Fort Carson locked in its 18th boys’ team title in school history for the second-most championships in the state, while Vista Ridge, which won the school’s first state championship in 2013, claimed the program’s second 4A title.
The Wolves brought home eight top-five finishes including three gold medals on the way to their second state championship in four years, while the Trojans eked out a five-point victory over Monarch thanks to 13 finishes in the top five and five gold medals.
Although the Pikes Peak region found overwhelming success at the state level, area athletes also had to overcome a number of challenges, both athletically and community wide in 2017.
Cheyenne Mountain’s Justin Nicks, who beat non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma as a child, and brings the same approach onto the lacrosse field.
Fellow Cheyenne Mountain athlete Westin Stieglitz, who underwent three surgeries to remove a blood clot in his brain, and returned to the pool months later to aid the boys’ swim team to a state championship.
After a tumultuous week for Falcon High School, in which two students were tragically killed, the Discovery Canyon girls’ soccer team sent the Falcon girls’ squad a gift basket and notes of encouragement and strength after their game had been postponed due to the tragedy. In response, Falcon presented the Thunder flowers during player introductions before the rescheduled game.
The Sand Creek boys’ basketball team endured a tough league loss to Discovery Canyon after its head coach and all but one varsity players were suspended following a protest in response to the removal of an assistant coach.
The area saw a number of notable coaches step down in 2017, but three stood out among the rest.
- Lewis-Palmer’s Susan Odenbaugh announced that she was stepping down four months after winning the 2016 4A state title. After 28 seasons on staff, and helping the program to six state championships, including four as head coach, Odenbaugh left the program with a stunning 347-89 record.
- Coronado’s longtime wrestling coach Matt Brickell left the program after coaching his 14th individual state champion and a sixth-place team finish in 2017. His announcement in March was the third time he’s stepped down from coaching, but rest assured, this one should stick after 27 years at the helm.
- After three years of near-misses in the state field hockey finals, Palmer Ridge finally claimed the elusive state championship in October. It was the perfect send-off for coach Paul Lewis, who announced that he was stepping down after 10 years to spend time with his 17-year-old son, Vaughn, who has Stage 4 melanoma.
Signing day success
2017 was a successful year for the Pikes Peak region, which had hundreds of area athletes sign their National Letters of Intent to continue their athletic careers, including more than 50 Division I signees.
Fall 2017 signings: November early signing
Peak Performers of the Year
Sixteen schools and more than 30 athletes were honored as respective Gazette Preps Peak Performers of the Year in 2017.
Brothers Mason and Tanner Norman from The Classical Academy were both selected as Peak Performers of the Year in 2017. Tanner earned the Boys’ Track Athlete of the Year honor for his state-winning performances in the 1,600 and 3,200 distance races, while his brother Mason nabbed the Boys’ Cross Country Athlete of the Year nod with a first-place finish at state cross country in the fall.
Cheyenne Mountain, Lewis-Palmer and Palmer Ridge each hauled in four Peak Performer of the Year honors. Air Academy, Colorado Springs Christian, Coronado, and Discovery Canyon all had two athletes honored in 2017.
Notable playoff runs
In addition to 13 state championships in 2017, the Pikes Peak region also saw a number of notable runs in the state playoffs.
- The Lewis-Palmer boys’ basketball team reached the 4A state title game before falling to Valor Christian. Manitou Springs’ boys made it to the 3A basketball quarterfinals, while Colorado Springs Christian battled to the boys’ semifinals before falling to the eventual state champions Sterling.
- Doherty girls worked their way to an undefeated regular season but fell in the 5A basketball quarterfinals. The Mesa Ridge girls basketball team also fell in the quarterfinals in 4A, while the Colorado Springs Christian girls team battled to the 3A title game before falling to Lamar.
- Pine Creek football made its second straight appearance in the 4A state championships by outscoring opponents 91-7 in the postseason, but ultimately fell to Pueblo South in the title game.
- The Coronado girls’ volleyball team battled for a spot in the 5A state semifinals but fell 25-20 to Rock Canyon in a one-set tiebreaker.
- The Palmer Ridge boys’ golf team claimed the program’s best finish in the state tournament with a fourth-place finish. Discovery Canyon, the 2016 state champions, placed sixth.
- Pine Creek’s Peter Isais won the 4A 160-pound wrestling crown for back-to-back individual titles (5A champion in 2016), while Peyton’s Britton Holmes earned his second straight 2A state championship. He claimed the 145 title in 2017, a year after winning the 138-pound crown.
- Four area girls’ golfers finished top 10, as Pine Creek’s Ellie Carlson, Cheyenne Mountain’s Maxine Choi, and Palmer Ridge sisters Ashlee and Kellsey Sample earned all-state nods.
The Gazette Preps Year in Review was compiled with the help of Sports Editor Matt Wiley and freelancer Kevin Carmody.