Peak Performers
Gazette Preps Peak Performer of the Week, Charles Sturgeon, Palmer swimming

Gazette Preps Peak Performer of the Week, Charles Sturgeon, Palmer swimming

Sat, Jan 1, 2000 - 12:00 AM

Charles Sturgeon's name wasn't well-known in swimming circles during his first three years at Palmer. Now, everyone in the state is more than aware of what he's capable of in the pool. The senior not only won both the 100 butterfly and 100 breaststroke at the Lightning Invite in Thornton over the weekend, he did so in record fashion. His times of 52.24 seconds in the fly and 58.73 in the breast were both meet records. "It's a great feeling to be able to set some records at a meet that has so many good teams and swimmers every year," Sturgeon said. "Knowing the hard work and training is paying off is very rewarding, and it makes you feel good." Sturgeon swam on mostly relays his first two years at Palmer. Last year, he made progress and qualified for the 5A state meet in several events, finishing 23rd in the 200 IM and 25th in the breaststroke. Palmer swimmer Charles Sturgeon is the Gazette's Peak Performer of the Week. He was photographed at the school pool Monday, April 17, 2017. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette   Now, he's ranked in the top six in the state in four events, and his coach, Kayla McGilvray, couldn't be prouder. "It's unlike anything I've seen before in the seven years I've been coaching," she said. "You usually tend to see a leap between freshman and sophomore year, and then steady progress. But Charles has put himself on a whole different level. I've known he was a good swimmer for the last three years, but he's perfecting his stroke, and it's really pretty swimming." Sturgeon has several school records on his résumé, as well as meet and pool records around the city and state. He says a typical week of training in the offseason included 20-24 hours per week of either swimming or lifting weights. "Coming into my senior year, I knew that swimming in college was something I wanted to do, and that it was going to take a lot of dedication every day," he said. "I've been trying to follow up on that, and this past weekend showed that it's paying off." The hard work helped Sturgeon earn a scholarship to swim at Division-I George Washington University next year. But he's not just a jock - Spurgeon is a gifted student who will be going pre-med in college and studying biochemistry. He enjoys solving Rubik's Cubes in his spare time, and says he averages about 30 seconds to solve one of the puzzles. "My fastest time ever is 17 seconds," Sturgeon said. His high school coach says his college coaches are in for a treat. "I would imagine the GW coaches are really excited, because Charles hasn't reached his potential yet, and he's just starting to figure out that if he fine-tunes the small things he's going to be even better," McGilvray said. "They're getting a kid who works really hard and who is going to be a good teammate. He's a diamond in the rough, and he's just now coming into his own." As Spurgeon chases his dream of winning a state championship, he's transformed from a kid who didn't speak up much his first three years, to a leader and team captain. "I'm focused on being a leader who keeps things positive and light," he said. "As much as intensity is helpful in training, it's important to keep things light and have a good relationship with everyone on the team."
Gazette Preps Peak Performer of the Week: Jequan Hogan, Fountain-Fort Carson track and field

Gazette Preps Peak Performer of the Week: Jequan Hogan, Fountain-Fort Carson track and field

Sat, Jan 1, 2000 - 12:00 AM

A year after scoring one point at the state meet for Fountain-Fort Carson, junior jumper and hurdler Jequan Hogan looks to be on a mission to score every single point he can for the Trojans this year. He's now 10 for 10 in victories through three meets, going 4 for 4 at the Mullen Invitational on Saturday with wins in the 110-meter hurdles along with the triple, high and long jumps. This breakout season comes as the Trojans look for their next leader with last year's super sprinter, Christian Lyon, now gone. Hogan said he hopes he can be "that guy" going forward. "I want to be the guy that my team looks up to for points," he said. "If I can score 40 points at state I think we'll have a good meet." Currently in the state, Hogan has the top leap in the triple jump and is top five in the 110 hurdles and high jump. Fountain-Fort Carson junior track and field athlete Jequan Hogan is The Gazette's Peak Performer of the Week. He was photographed at the school Monday, April 10, 2017. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette   His talent has always been undeniable. Through his first two years on the team, he's qualified for state twice. His best result came last year when he took ninth in high jump and 10th in triple jump - scoring a point for his team. His monumental rise as a junior, on the other hand, has been something out of the ordinary -- the perfect combination of physical and mental growth, says coach Ben Montoya. "You wouldn't think he's a junior, he acts more like a senior," Montoya said. "He's very quiet, very reserved, focused, he's not arrogant, not boastful. "He's just a humble kid that wants to do well for himself and I think for our team." Hogan knew he was on the verge of something special back in the winter during the indoor track season. He said it felt like every meet he was setting a personal record in his events. The jumper credits the countless hours of work and, of course, his dad. Over the fall, Hogan said he and his dad went to the Mesa Ridge track, the closest one to their house, every day after school. It was his father's push that led to a commitment that has never been in question since. "Sometimes I got home from school and I was tired but he always motivated me to go," Hogan said. "You need that motivation. And actually now, sitting here thinking about it, I'm very thankful that he did that because I wouldn't be where I am without it." The junior has hopes of gold in the near future. And hopefully more than one. Jumps coach Harry Knight said he told Hogan early in the season that "there's nothing wrong winning it as a junior and then repeating as a senior." And apparently, he was listening. "He wants to be that leader and wants to be that example," Knight said.
Gazette Preps Peak Performer of the Week, Bre Hayden, Doherty girls' tennis

Gazette Preps Peak Performer of the Week, Bre Hayden, Doherty girls' tennis

Sat, Jan 1, 2000 - 12:00 AM

Bre Hayden was playing a Nintendo Wii several years ago, and had a thought. She was so good at Wii tennis on the video game, that maybe she should give it a shot in real life. Turns out, she's even better at the real thing. Hayden, the Doherty No. 1 singles player, showed those skills when she won the Far East Invite title at Vista Peak last week. "Bre played the most amazing tennis at that tournament that I've ever seen her play," Doherty coach Cheri Rogers said. "She was patient and waited for good shots, and I hope that's a confidence booster for her." Related: Wind plays role in Rampart's girls' tennis win over Lewis-Palmer Hayden, a senior, didn't enter the real world of tennis until her freshman year of high school. She played doubles the first two years, and then before her junior year made the big leap to singles play, as the No. 1 player on the team. "After Kylie (Simons, Doherty's No. 1 in 2015) left, I knew I had to be the one to step up," Hayden said. "It was quite an awakening for me, because I didn't realize the skill level that a lot of these girls had. It was a little rough making the transition from only playing two years of doubles to making the jump to playing singles, especially at the No. 1 spot." Hayden had plenty of help in her growth. In addition to her coaches and taking tennis lessons for the past three years, her grandfather, Bob Hayden, has been the biggest reason why she's become a solid player. "It took lots and lots of hours of practice, and playing with my grandpa as well," Bre said. "He taught me so much about tennis - I used to never be able to beat him, but now I can. He would watch videos and then we would go out and play and he'd teach me, and he got me to where I am today." Where she is today is leading a talented group of Spartans by example. Not only did Hayden win the No. 1 singles title at the Far East Invite, Doherty also took the team title with a total of 21 points, edging Cherokee Trail and Steamboat Springs. Rogers, who has been the coach at Doherty for 22 years, says she's never coached someone who started playing tennis at the beginning of high school who has risen so rapidly. "I've never seen that, ever," Rogers said. "Bre had a good season last year, even though she may not say it was. She believes she should be able to beat everybody, even though she doesn't have the same experience they have. "I have all the confidence in the world in Bre, and I believe she can be as good as she wants to be. She's wonderful with her teammates, and is very supportive of everyone. She was voted one of our two team captains." Hayden, who also excels in school with one of the top GPAs in her class of roughly 500 students, has relished the role of team leader. "It's great being a part of a team win and contributing to it, and I'm really optimistic about our players' potential," she said. "We have a lot of young people on our team who I can see going far in their tennis careers."
The Gazette Girls' Basketball 3A-A Peak Performer of the Year: Shelby Megyeri, Manitou Springs

The Gazette Girls' Basketball 3A-A Peak Performer of the Year: Shelby Megyeri, Manitou Springs

Sat, Jan 1, 2000 - 12:00 AM

Shelby Megyeri's days as leader of the Manitou Springs girls' basketball team are over, but she sure left her mark. After four wildly successful seasons - which saw Megyeri break several school records and help her team annually to at least the 3A state quarterfinals - she will go down as the best female basketball player in Manitou Springs history. She's now been named The Gazette 3A-A Girls' Basketball Peak Performer of the Year three seasons in a row, and holds the Manitou Springs career records for points, assists and steals. Related: See more of the top athletes from the Colorado Springs area "I honestly never thought I'd win three of these in a row, but it's an honor, and I'm very happy about it," she said. Megyeri finished with 1,651 points in her high school career, including a 17.8 points-per-game average during her senior year. She averaged 15 or more points in all four of her seasons at the helm of the Mustangs, and the program amassed an 82-23 mark during that time. "That record, and going to state four times, is a big accomplishment, and we made school history together as a team and that's an amazing feeling," Megyeri said. "The main thing that will stick out was playing in the state championship game. That was always a dream of mine, and winning it was the other part of the dream, but it was still an awesome experience." Manitou Springs fell in the quarterfinals during Megyeri's freshman year, then advanced to the state semifinals in 2015 and came close to winning it all in 2016, falling in the 3A state title game. Perhaps the most impressive of all her seasons was her final one. The Mustangs lost three major contributors after the 2015-16 season, but still made it back to the state quarterfinals - something few thought would happen. "It was really satisfying because a lot of people underestimated us, but I knew what we were capable of," Megyeri said. "We didn't have as great of a season as some of the past ones, but I knew after the first practice we were going to make it back to the state tournament." Ariana Olson, a fellow senior and one of Megyeri's best friends, played with her all four years of high school. "It's been really fun playing with her the last four years, and she's obviously been a huge part of our team," Olson said. "Shelby is pretty intense on the court, and is always focused and making sure she lifts us up and makes sure we're also focused. She's so competitive, and she was the hardest-working one at practice and in the games." Megyeri will continue her basketball career at CSU-Pueblo this fall. She joins a team that went 28-4, and returns a lot of talent. "I like it because it's close to home and my family will be able to come see me play, especially my parents, grandparents and brothers," she said. "I'm close to them, and not having them in the stands wouldn't be the same." Megyeri goes from the top dog in high school to a freshman in college, but that's just fine with her. "I'm going to have to work for playing time, and it won't be handed to me," she said. "I don't expect to start, but I think I can get on the floor and get some good minutes."
The Gazette Boys' Basketball 5A-4A Peak Performer of the Year: Hunter Maldonado, Vista Ridge

The Gazette Boys' Basketball 5A-4A Peak Performer of the Year: Hunter Maldonado, Vista Ridge

Sat, Jan 1, 2000 - 12:00 AM

Vista Ridge's Hunter Maldonado pushed his team into the first day of March as the Wolves made good on their move to the 5A classification with a berth into the round of 16. Turns out, Maldonado's silky smooth game didn't take a hit as the stage and opposition grew in the waning days of his high school basketball career. He's never been one to back down from a bigger and more grandiose challenge on the court - his next one, of course, awaiting him in Laramie, Wyo. Related: Gazette Preps 4A-5A boys' basketball Coach of the Year: Bill Benton, Lewis-Palmer "I want to do whatever it takes and whatever the team needs," said Maldonado, The Gazette Boys' Basketball 5A-4A Peak Performer of the Year, who will join the University of Wyoming in a few months. "Whatever (Wyoming) coach (Allen) Edwards needs from me, I'll be happy." Maldonado is the kind of player that will take his role and thank you for it. In a season where the Wolves started three sophomores, they needed even more from their star, who was coming off a sensational junior campaign that helped propel the Wolves into the 4A semifinals. They needed his scoring, his rebounding, his dishes. Most of all, though, they needed him to lead. "He was more than just our teammate, he was our oldest brother," sophomore guard Julius Dowell said. "Learning from Hunter, you learn things not only on the basketball court but off it, too." Maldonado was tops on his team in points (23.7 per game), rebounds (6.5) and assists (2.2), and the young but dangerous Wolves ran all the way into the round of 16 for a date with the state's No. 1 team, Eaglecrest. The Wolves trailed by just five at half against the Raptors, and Maldonado finished with a game-high 24 points, but the eventual state champs opened it up in the second half en route to a 55-37 win. Afterward, Maldonado told his teammates he had "no regrets". "For your senior leader to say that he laid it all on the court and he has no regrets, that's all you hope for," Vista Ridge coach Joe Hites said. "When you look back, you just knew you gave everything you had and hopefully people benefited because you were a part of it. I know our whole entire program benefited from having him around." This spring, Maldonado hopes to make another mark as he joins the track and field team. Still craving a state title to cap his career, the senior agreed to jump in important meets and already qualified for state in the high jump with a leap of 6-foot-4 in the first meet of the season. "It's just amazing how athletic he is," said sprinter Will Haywood, Maldonado's friend since preschool. "We had to convince him, but it's really important for all of us (seniors) to get a banner for our gym." Then it's on to a bigger, more grandiose stage. Maldonado, who said he's unsure what his role will be as a freshman, will join the Cowboys, who bounced back from a losing year with a winning record in Edwards' first season, and made the College Basketball Invitational. Maldonado admitted that the idea of bringing the Cowboys back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015 has crossed his mind. "I definitely want to try and help Wyoming get there," Maldonado said. "Just to have the opportunity to be there, be on TV on the biggest stage college has to offer, I think it would be something really cool. It's been one of my dreams since growing up."
The Gazette Boys' Basketball 3A-A Peak Performer of the Year: Justin Engesser, CSCS

The Gazette Boys' Basketball 3A-A Peak Performer of the Year: Justin Engesser, CSCS

Sat, Jan 1, 2000 - 12:00 AM

The numbers tell the story of Justin Engesser, the statistical all-around leader. That's not the player who will be missed the most next season. "We're going to lose an assistant coach," said Mark Engesser, Justin's father and Colorado Springs Christian School boys' basketball coach. "I saw that out of him when he was in the eighth grade. He knew how to execute the game plan and coached everyone on the floor. He'd be good at coaching if he decides he wants to do it because that's what he was doing these last two years on the floor." Related: The Gazette Boys' Basketball 3A-A Coach of the Year: Jedd Sims, Peyton Basketball's answer to the five-tool player, Engesser led the Lions in scoring (21.7 points), rebounding (9.4), assists (6.2), blocked shots (2.5) and steals (1.8). And perhaps his sixth category, leadership, further elevated CSCS into a 3A powerhouse that claimed two state titles and came close another two times during his four seasons with the program. The Gazette's Boys' Basketball Small School Player of the Year ended his CSCS career as the school's all-time assists leader and leaves with the most postseason points and rebounds in school history. He finished second to brother Nate, a 2012 CSCS graduate, in points and 3-pointers. That versatility came as a necessity for CSCS, which over the course of two seasons lost 6-foot-9 Nick Doherty and Sam Howard, a 6-8 forward who earned honors as Small School Player of the Year in 2015-16, to graduation. Suddenly, Engesser had to take his game and his 6-5 frame into a new area, well inside the arc. "I knew going into this season that I was going to have to step up and make that transition to being in the post," Justin Engesser said. "It was fun banging people around down low and just learning the transition and further developing my game. I was willing to do whatever it took to win." He'll take that same workmanlike attitude to the next level at Colorado Christian University in Lakewood. He'll start over at the bottom, just like he did at CSCS, where he first he earned his stripes as a long-range specialist. He hit a team-high 72 3-pointers as the opposition concentrated on the Lions' low-post game with Doherty and Howard. "CCU shoots a lot of 3s, and that's always fun," Engesser said. "I'm going to go in and learn my role. If I sit on the bench all season so I can learn, that's fine. If I play a lot, I'll try my hardest. I'm just looking forward to doing what I can." Quite simply, Engesser evolved into a complete player on the court. One who won't be missed, by the Lions' opponents anyway. "He presented so many challenges for other teams," longtime Manitou Springs boys' coach Ken Vecchio said. "He's tough to prepare for, because he can shoot from the outside and use his athletic ability to get inside. He can do a lot of things, and he's tough to guard. As a coach, it was just fun to sit back and watch guys like Justin do great things. We've had a lot of talented players in our league over the years."
Gazette Preps Peak Performer of the Week, Jaden Davis, Sand Creek girls' soccer

Gazette Preps Peak Performer of the Week, Jaden Davis, Sand Creek girls' soccer

Sat, Jan 1, 2000 - 12:00 AM

Sand Creek coach Jeremy Tafoya looked over the stats after Thursday's 9-1 win against Palmer and took pause at the sight of Jaden Davis' six goals. He texted his sophomore to see if it could have been a clerical error. "I thought it was like four and then I was like 'six, is that right?'" Tafoya said. "She was like 'yeah, it's six', and I was like 'whoa.'" Related: See more of our Peak Performers in all sports The Scorpions fielded only 10 players that afternoon against the Terrors with many of their girls en route to Las Vegas to take part in the Players Showcase, a club soccer tournament in front of college coaches from across the country. Sand Creek's Jaden Davis is the Peak Performer this week. Monday, March 20, 2017. Photo by Jerilee Bennett, The Gazette   But Davis, her team's most creative scorer and blessed with blistering speed, stayed around long enough to lead her short-handed team to its third straight victory of the season before she scurried to the airport to catch a flight of her own. Then, in Vegas, she scored two more goals for her club team. "She's on a mission this year," Tafoya said. Davis, only a sophomore, is quickly becoming one of Sand Creek's most prolific players in program history. She set the team's freshman goal-scoring record last season with 13 and added the single-game record Thursday. And now with 11 goals in just three games - eight of those coming last week - she is The Gazette's Peak Performer of the Week and the chase for the season-scoring mark could be next. Tafoya is sure to remind Davis of the bar set by his daughter Christina, who had 30 goals for the Scorpions in 2014. "He's just straightforward about it," said Davis, who watched Christina play for Sand Creek when she was the team's ball girl. "Like, 'this is the record'. He just wants me to know because he knows I have the potential of beating it." Tafoya says he pushed Christina in the same way as a sophomore after her older brother, Donald, set a school record with 22 goals. Christina matched the 22 and went on to have the program's best individual season with 87 points as a senior. "I just like to challenge them, 'hey, here you go. Here's your number'," Tafoya cracked. "It's kind of fun." Those numbers won't be Davis' main motivation, though. "Her biggest attribute is her will to win," Tafoya added. Perhaps the biggest number for Davis will be seven - as in seven combined wins over the past two seasons for Sand Creek. Davis says she is hopeful the Scorpions can take a step forward. How far they've come as a team will be evident next month during league play in the 4A/5A Pikes Peak Athletic Conference, where the Scorpions haven't won a game since 2014. "I think we have a really good chance to compete with (the teams in the league)," Davis said. "We've worked really hard to come to where we are right now. It's about going out and playing for each other."
The Gazette Girls' Basketball 5A-4A Peak Performer of the Year: Chloe Welch, Mesa Ridge

The Gazette Girls' Basketball 5A-4A Peak Performer of the Year: Chloe Welch, Mesa Ridge

Sat, Jan 1, 2000 - 12:00 AM

The first time Mesa Ridge faced Colorado Springs Metro League rival Sierra this season, one of the Stallions' top scorers, Malaynah Palaroan, who averaged 10.7 points per game this year, went off for 19 against the Grizzlies. The second time, Mesa Ridge coach Jeff Beatty had Chloe Welch defend her and Palaroan finished with six. Welch scored a season-high 27. Related: The Gazette Girls' Basketball 3A-A Peak Performer of the Year: Shelby Megyeri, Manitou Springs Four days before Pueblo East played Mesa Ridge in the third round of the 4A state playoffs, Eagles leading scorer Kayla Albo scored 26 points against Canon City. When the Eagles met the Grizzlies, Beatty gave Welch the task of defending Albo and she scored nine, five less than her season average. "She's stellar defensively," Beatty said of Welch, The Gazette's Girls' Basketball 5A-3A Peak Performer of the Year, who led the Grizzlies with 18 points per game. "Her ability to defend other guards is incredible. She's so long and fast." Besides leading the Grizzlies in scoring, Welch finished second on the team with 152 rebounds and 20 blocks. She also led Mesa Ridge with 71 steals. "I always wanted the duty to guard the hardest player," Welch said. Welch relishes the opportunity to be able to shut down top scorers. The 5-foot-9 junior said defense is more important to her than putting up big numbers offensively. "I know that without good defense, you can't win any games because if you let the other team score, then it will give them a lift and it will take away your momentum," Welch said. "You can't get your own momentum as a team without defensive stops and turnovers. "Even if I score 20 points and I don't play good defense, I'm more upset about that because then I let my team down," she said. "Everything starts at defense for me." In the absence of former Mesa Ridge standout Kylee Shook, who plays for Louisville, the Grizzles have continued to be dominant. Much of that is thanks to Welch and her ability to be a force on defense and offense. On the way to their fourth quarterfinals appearance in five years, Welch scored her 1,000th career point, a feat few reach in their high school career, let alone hitting the mark as a junior. Welch's 1,000th point came in the third-round playoff victory over Pueblo East. The Grizzlies' season ended with a quarterfinals loss to Pueblo West, in which Welch scored a game-high 25 points and had six rebounds. "She's an intense competitor, so she makes sure that it doesn't matter which drill we're doing in practice, everybody has to compete," Beatty said. "She pushes other players to be better and she really pushes competition in practice. She wants everybody competing every minute." The Grizzlies will lose three seniors next year, but with the return of Welch and teammate Ashley Bowen, who led Mesa Ridge with 71 blocks and was second on the team 12.3 points per game, Beatty expects the Grizzlies to make another quarterfinals appearance or advance even further. He believes Welch can be even better. "Every year I think she's really good and then she comes back the next year and she's quite a bit better," Beatty said. "I fully expect her to be a 24- to 25-point-a-game scorer next year just because of the amount of work that she puts in and how hard she pushes herself. "I expect lots of double-doubles out of her next year. She's a great kid and she's a really good teammate. She's a fun kid to have around."
The Gazette Hockey Peak Performer of the Year: Christian Perry, Lewis-Palmer

The Gazette Hockey Peak Performer of the Year: Christian Perry, Lewis-Palmer

Sat, Jan 1, 2000 - 12:00 AM

As former Lewis-Palmer ice hockey coach Hal Jordan describes it, when it's time to pick the all-state player of the year, the 32 Colorado high school hockey coaches meet. They go around and everyone usually puts forth and defends their best player. This year, several of the top teams in the state - including Ralston Valley and state champion Monarch - didn't bother. Related: Lewis-Palmer ice hockey coach Hal Jordan stepping down Is there any debate about this? Jordan recalls Regis Jesuit coach Dan Woodley asking. "'It's obviously the L-P kid.'" "The L-P kid" would be Christian Perry, The Gazette's Peak Performer of the Year for ice hockey for the second straight year. Perry put up 38 points (23 goals, 15 assists) through the regular season and second round of the state playoffs to cap a record-setting prep career. "The L-P kid" lives in Peyton and is a senior at Peyton High School, and helps his father frame houses on the weekends for extra cash. He put many miles on his truck headed to and from Monument, where he guided the Rangers through a transitional year and trained to become the best high school player in the state. "He doesn't talk much, but when it's time to talk, everyone shuts up and listens," Jordan said. Perry started playing inline hockey at four, as his father was - and still is - an avid inline player and coach. The close-knit family's yearly vacation was to an inline competition. Perry wasn't talked into giving ice hockey a try until he was 11 years old. Now college hockey is the goal. Perry has several junior teams interested and is headed to an in-state showcase soon. Most college hockey players go to juniors before playing college hockey. "It's kind of crazy," Perry said. "I kind of don't know what to expect. High school was pretty cool, and I don't want to stop now. "I just wanted to play with my dad. He's competitive, and that's how I came to be who I am." His father, Stephen, called it "extremely exciting" to watch the eldest of his three sons excel at the sport they both love. "If (junior hockey) happens, it happens. I'm not going to hold him back obviously, but this is all new for us. "We didn't realize he'd take to it this well. It's going to be a culture shock for sure." Lewis-Palmer will certainly miss leaders Perry - who shattered several school records - and second-team all-state selection Noah Vanderbeck, the starting goaltender. The Rangers moved to a new, powerhouse conference and started the regular season 0-6, but finished with seven wins. "Not one of the players dropped their shoulders, and most of that was because of Christian Perry," Jordan said. Jordan fondly remembers another story from a game against Ralston Valley, which Jordan's teams hadn't beaten in his previous three years at the school. The Rangers dropped down 4-0 early and rallied to win 5-4. "I talked to our seniors at the first period break, and Noah said, 'We'll see what we can do.' See what we can do? We're on pace to lose 12-0! But they beat them almost by themselves. "That was a turning point for us. From then on, we knew we could compete with everyone." The Perry family isn't done with Lewis-Palmer yet. Daniel, 14, was the captain of the Rangers' junior varsity team this season. Jordan said Daniel is bigger and stronger, and he didn't think Christian ever missed one of his brother's JV games. "The L-P kid" left his mark and has exciting potential changes ahead, but isn't forgetting where his roots are. "I think it was well worth it," Perry said. "With all that I've kind of done, I feel like I left it out on the table. With what I've been given, I feel like I kind of made the most out of it. "I don't regret any decision I made playing for them. I loved it. I'm gonna miss it for sure."
The Gazette Wrestling Upper Weights Peak Performer of the Year: Jimmy Weaver, Coronado

The Gazette Wrestling Upper Weights Peak Performer of the Year: Jimmy Weaver, Coronado

Sat, Jan 1, 2000 - 12:00 AM

Jimmy Weaver waited until after the season to reveal he'd been wrestling with a broken finger since December. After sustaining a fracture above the knuckle on his right index finger at the Northern Colorado Christmas Tournament, trainers tried to stabilize it by taping it to his middle finger, and then dummy wrapped his left hand in hopes of keeping the opposition in the dark. But it was of little comfort. The price of Weaver's first state title would come with his fair share of agony. Related: The Gazette Wrestling All-Area teams for 2016-17 "I think by state everyone knew," said Weaver, who won the Class 5A 182-pound title on his way to becoming The Gazette's Heavy Weights Wrestler of the Year. "They were targeting it a bit. I can't blame them." Weaver, doing his best to ignore the pain that washed over him with every bend and twist of his finger, went 41-1 and was the top-ranked wrestler in the 5A 182s for much of the year per Tim Yount's On The Mat Rankings. In January he won his first Colorado Springs Metro Championships title, and three weeks later he added his first regional title to fortify himself as a top seed at the state tournament. At state, he rewrote his legacy from despair to delight a year after his tournament ended in concussion as he got an early takedown of Ponderosa's Jayden Woodruff in the finals and held on for a 2-1 decision. "It was crazy," said Weaver, who will go onto wrestle at the Air Force Academy. "Coming into the last few seconds on the edge, it was just about staying tough and listening to my coaches." Weaver's title also brought a fitting end to Matt Brickell's three-decade career as the coach of Coronado's wrestling team. Brickell was next to the first state champ he coached, Gabe Burak, who is the team's assistant wrestling coach, as he witnessed Weaver become his 14th and final champ. Brickell, who announced his retirement four years earlier before returning a short time later, says he stayed for as long as he did because of Weaver. "(Former assistant principal at Coronado) Darin Smith, who is now the principal, asked me to come back and then Jimmy Weaver came in - and he's such a good kid," Brickell said. "It was kind of one of those things I wanted to finish out with him and Stevie (Dabelko)." Weaver added that he "kind of guilted" Brickell into sticking around. "It was just real special to get that for him," he said. Weaver will wrestle under Falcons coach Sam Barber in the Big 12 Conference next season. He says earning a spot in the lineup will be priority No. 1. "Hopefully I can win a spot on the team freshman year," Weaver said. "We'll see how that goes, but that's the plan, that's the goal first and foremost. And then go out and win matches and help the team out as much as I can."
The Gazette Wrestling All-Area teams for 2016-17

The Gazette Wrestling All-Area teams for 2016-17

Sat, Jan 1, 2000 - 12:00 AM

The Gazette Wrestling All-Area teams for the 2016-17 season. First team 106: Patrick Allis, Discovery Canyon, so. - Class 4A state runner-up, COS Metros champ, finished 33-7. 113: Stephen Dabelko, Coronado, sr. - Class 5A state runner-up, COS Metros champ, 37-2. 120: James Ruona, Cañon City, so. - Third place at 4A state tournament, won four tournaments, 39-9. 126: Jason Hanenberg, Air Academy, jr. - Fourth place at 4A state tournament, COS Metros champ, 43-4. 132: Mike McFadden, Cheyenne Mountain, jr. - State runner-up in 4A, second in COS Metros at 138 pounds, 31-7. 138: KJ Kearns, Coronado, so. - Runner-up at 5A state tournament, COS Metros champ, 39-6. 145: Britton Holmes, Peyton, sr. - Won 2A state title, won five tournaments, posted record of 41-2. 152: Luke White, Cheyenne Mountain, sr. - Semifinalist who finished fourth in 4A state tournament, 25-8. 160: Peter Isais, Pine Creek, sr. - Won 4A state title while going 32-3 a season after winning 5A title at same weight class; also COS Metros champ. 170: Garrett Niel, Pine Creek, jr. - Finished third at 4A state tournament, champion at COS Metros, five tournament titles, 46-3. 182: Jimmy Weaver, Coronado, sr. - Class 5A state champion, COS Metros champ, rolled to 41-1 record, won seven tournaments. 195: Deric Cruz, Mesa Ridge, sr. - Took third at 4A state tournament, COS Metros champ, 37-10. 220: Dominick Fini, Mesa Ridge, jr. - State runner-up in 4A tournament, avenged COS Metros finals loss at state, 37-5. 285: Alefosio Saipaia, Sand Creek, jr. - Class 4A state runner-up, 17-3 record.   Second team 106 - Zeon Ortega, Cañon City, so. 113 - Brendan Byrnes, Discovery Canyon, jr. 120 - Collin Metzgar, Doherty, sr. 126 - Kevin Hooks, Cheyenne Mountain, so. 132 - Maverick Keigher, Doherty, jr. 138 - Jared Turner, Discovery Canyon, jr. 145 - Dre-Son Scruggs, Palmer, sr. 152 - Wyatt Lee, Peyton, sr. 160 - Zac Baker, Cheyenne Mountain, sr. 170 - Nicholas Cote, Coronado, sr. 182 - Zach Garrard, Cheyenne Mountain, sr. 195 - Oliver Neumann, Cheyenne Mountain, sr. 220 - Nate Pastorello, Discovery Canyon, sr. 285 - Julian Sanchez, Manitou Springs, sr.   Honorable mention Air Academy-Brady Badwound, so.; Matthew Barela, sr.; James Benson, jr.; Corbyn Berg, sr. Calhan-Osiah Bishop, fr.; Zach McCrary, sr. Cañon City-Xavier Byrne, sr.; Shane Coffey, jr.; Tucker Coffey, sr.; Zac Hanenberg, jr.; Bailey McBride, jr.; Tucker McDowell, sr. Cheyenne Mountain-Luke Antonia, jr.; Deonte Bridges, fr.; Ray Duron, sr.; Garrett Jackson, jr.; Steve Mattorano, jr. The Classical Academy-Nathan Boyles, sr.; Matt Johns, sr.; Nathan Johns, so.; Liam Young, so. Coronado-Anthony Arellano-Gandy, sr.; Brady Chauvin, sr.; Angel Flores, fr. Discovery Canyon-Jasper Biddy, sr.; Jack Roy, sr.; Matt Tobey, jr.; Ryan Weber, sr. Doherty-Siandre Agaali'i, so.; Ey'mon Campbell, sr.; Zack Szostak, jr.; Jozghious Thomas, sr. Ellicott-Ben McCaffrey, jr.; Avery Whitlock, sr. Falcon-David Kenner, so.; Robby Warkentine, fr. Florence-Ty Addington, jr.; Keaton Green, jr.; Logan Kenline, jr.; Johnny Masopost, fr. Fountain-Fort Carson-William Benford, sr.; Noah Lemay, sr.; Cody Stalder, sr.; Kyle Stalder, jr. Lewis-Palmer-Sam Blackmon, fr.; Charlie Cook, so.; Dominic Knost, so.; Cole Stephenson, fr. Liberty-Adam Beziou, sr. Manitou Springs-Atticus Fredrickson, sr. Mesa Ridge-Elijah Bailin, so.; Jalen Fisher, sr.; Devin Lueck, jr.; Michael True, jr.; Elijah Valdez, jr. Mitchell-Donnie Liles, sr.; Peyton Miles, so. Palmer Ridge-Kitt Knisley, sr.; Nick Stiltner, jr. Peyton-Trystan Hanks, sr.; JD Hart, so.; Jack Kelly, sr.; Luke Manly, jr.; Edgar Pedigo, jr.; Lane Wilfong, fr. Pine Creek-Billy Hudson III, fr.; Clay Rivard, sr.; Ronald Salazar III, so.; Andrew Transtrum, sr. Rampart-Paul Deist, sr.; Jonathan Kitazono, sr.; Lance Peltier, sr. Sierra-Donavin Bedburdick, jr. Vista Ridge-Jeff Flippen, jr.; Dominic Sanchez, sr. Widefield-Nathan Daniel, jr.; Jason Ferari, fr.; Seth Long, so.; John Underwood, jr.; Elijah Whatley, jr. Woodland Park-Holt Brashears, so.; Cole Gray, fr.; Jordan Houck, sr.    * All records via trackwrestling.com
The Gazette Wrestling Lower Weights Peak Performer of the Year: Britton Holmes, Peyton

The Gazette Wrestling Lower Weights Peak Performer of the Year: Britton Holmes, Peyton

Sat, Jan 1, 2000 - 12:00 AM

Peyton High School never had a state champion in wrestling until Britton Holmes came along. For good measure, he won two of them. After breaking through with a win in the 138-pound class in 2016, Holmes followed that up with a 5-3 victory by decision in the 145 final in February to cap his high school career. Toughness played a big role as Holmes battled through this season, garnering The Gazette Wrestling Lower Weights Peak Performer of the Year honor. He injured his shoulder. He hurt his wrist. He caught pneumonia and spent a few days in the hospital. So fighting off a fever the night before the state tournament must've seemed like no big deal. Related: The Gazette Wrestling All-Area teams for 2016-17 "I had more confidence this year (than last)," Holmes said. "I owned a state title, and I wanted to defend it. I was looking at it as 'people are wanting to take what's mine.'" Peyton's coach said Holmes exuded dedication and commitment this season, and has always been hardworking - ever since he was a little kid. Coach would know - Peyton wrestling is led by Holmes' dad, Ed. "When he wrestles, he's aggressive, keeps a high pace and is very technical," Ed Holmes said. "(Britton's success) was great as a father first of all, and then to be allowed the opportunity to coach him as well, it's been pretty amazing." But coaching his son wasn't a complete walk in the park. "One of the hardest things I've ever done in my life," Ed Holmes said of coaching Britton, adding he was often tougher on his son than other wrestlers. "But I wouldn't trade it for the world. We have a coach-wrestler relationship that's unbeatable." The calmest Ed felt all season when coaching his son was in a place you might not expect - at the state finals. "I just got to sit back and enjoy and not worry about the whole scheme of things - him and the rest of the team," he said. "There was nothing left to do on my end, just sit back and watch him." Britton started wrestling at age 3, after his dad asked if he wanted to wrestle. He's loved it ever since. The two-time state champion has his eyes on another prize: gold in the 2020 Olympics. He'll attend Northern Michigan University to train in its Greco-Roman wrestling program. Exposed to the style in eighth grade, it immediately caught Britton's eye. "I loved it more than any other style of wrestling. The big throws and the fight of the match really got me intrigued," he said. "It's all upper body - throw or be thrown." Northern Michigan is one of only a few schools that has an Olympic training center connected to it. That was a big selling point for Britton, who wants to get his education done and be able to remain focused on both his schoolwork and wrestling at the same time. While at Northern Michigan, Holmes plans to pursue a degree in criminal justice. One day, he'd like to be a police officer.
The Gazette 2016-17 Girls' Swimming and Diving All-Area teams

The Gazette 2016-17 Girls' Swimming and Diving All-Area teams

Sat, Jan 1, 2000 - 12:00 AM

First team Meredith Rees,  Lewis-Palmer, so. Cat Wright,  Cheyenne  Mountain, jr. Aleks Olesiak,  Air Academy, so. Maggie Tibbitt,  Cheyenne  Mountain, sr. Kaitlyn Griffith,  Lewis-Palmer, sr. Emily Dolloff-Holt,  Manitou Springs, sr. Harper Lehman,  Cheyenne  Mountain, fr. Julie Day,  Lewis-Palmer, sr. Anna Kemper,  Lewis-Palmer, so. (diving)   Breakdown of NISCA points system for area swimmers Second team Allana Clarke, Rampart, jr. Sophia Bricker, Cheyenne Mountain, so. Catriona Clarke, Rampart, jr. Edenna Chen, Rampart, so. Caitlin Cairns, St Mary's, fr. Frances Hayward, Cheyenne Mountain, fr. Faith McAllister, Lewis-Palmer, jr. Olivia Chatman, Pine Creek, sr. Emily Munn, Lewis-Palmer, sr. (diving) NISCA power points scoring chart   Honorable mention Air Academy- Paris Binard, fr.; Marie Cloonan, jr.; Theryn Compoc, sr.; Maddie Doerr, jr.; Jace Gibson, jr.; Bella Piasentin, jr.; Abigail Shaw, fr.; Abby Steen, jr. Cheyenne Mountain- Nicole Bellingham, so.; Erin Bertsch, jr.; Jessica Bye, jr.; Alexis Chavez, jr.; Alexis Duncan, so.; Mikaila Duncan, so.; Claire Fisher, so.; Ellen Lightcap, jr. (diving); Meg Lowrey, sr.; Clare Sanderson, fr.; Dayna Wahl, fr.; Maggie York, sr. Coronado- Morgan Aire, sr.; Alyssa Archdale, sr.; Carsen Fair, sr.; Mia Shaeffer, so.; Erica Thompson, sr. Discovery Canyon- Rachel Alexander, fr., (diving); Cassandra Bullock, sr.; Noel Clayton, fr.; Lauren DeRay, sr.; Ava Giesbrecht, so.; Tatum Libby, jr. (diving); Erin McGill, sr.; Allison Olson, sr. (diving); Brianna Ridings, so. Doherty- Kylee Kujalowicz, so.; Auna Smith, jr. (diving); Mariona Trullas, sr. Fountain Valley- Emily Dixon, fr. (diving); Skye McCurdy, sr.; Eliza Rhee, so.; Sara Volk, sr.; Harriet Townsend, fr. (diving). Lewis-Palmer- Cailey Baker, sr.; Madeline Bane, fr.; Hannah Day, fr.; Rebecca Doe, sr.; Ashlyn Foster, so. (diving); Alex Lewis, sr.; Kayla McClelland, jr.; Kailee Sunada, jr.; Natalie Wright, so. (diving). Liberty- Kate Carlson, so.; Reagan Clark, jr.; Sarah Gaines, jr.; Megan Jones, sr.; Grace McCrary, fr.; Rebecca Miller, jr.; Paetyn Relich, so.; Gabi Roehr, jr.; Allison Van, jr. (diving); Manitou Springs- Kaitlyn Cashdollar, so.; Olivia Doherty, sr.; Sydney Dolloff-Holt, so.; Danielle Ortonward, sr.; Lilly Patterson, jr.; Coco Stevens, fr.; Sage Sevens, jr.; Mesa Ridge/Widefield- Vanessa Nuhn, so. Pine Creek- Katie Cornelio, fr.; Avery Dinnel, jr. (diving); Abby Doyle, jr.; Erin Esty, fr. (diving); Carrie Fraser, so.; Alysha Headrick, jr.; Elizabette Macias, so.; Sarah Macias, sr.; Schasny Osteroos, sr.; Audrey Teets, fr. (diving). Rampart- Laelle Brovold, fr.; Jillian Douglas, jr.; Olivia Ellenwood, jr. (diving); Raegan Hamilton, jr.; Gabrielle Peltier, so. (diving); Molly Smith, so.; Sophie Welp, fr.; Helen Zhang, jr. St Mary's- Grace Arnold, so.; Kennedy Terry, so.; Ruthie Long, sr.; Retta Smith, jr. (diving); Carter Terry, sr.
The Gazette Girls' Swimming and Diving Peak Performer: Meredith Rees, Lewis-Palmer

The Gazette Girls' Swimming and Diving Peak Performer: Meredith Rees, Lewis-Palmer

Sat, Jan 1, 2000 - 12:00 AM

Meredith Rees started her sophomore season on the Lewis-Palmer girls' swimming and diving team admittedly not fully aware of her full potential in the pool. So her coaches, Alan Arata and Jackie Cromer, let her know. Now Rees knows. And perhaps more frightening to her future opponents, she believes it. "They're always telling me times I should shoot for, and I would say 'I don't think I can go in that time,'" said Rees, The Gazette's Girls' Swimming Peak Performer following second- and fourth-place finishes in the 50-yard freestyle and 100 freestyle at the 5A state swimming championships, which concluded Feb. 11 in Thornton. "They tell me I can do anything. I have to tell myself the same things, and that motivates me in a lot of ways." Related: The Gazette Girls' Swimming and Diving Coach of the Year: Kate Doane, Cheyenne Mountain Her numbers tell that story. When she arrived for her first practices, the student at The Classical Academy couldn't break one minute in the 100-yard freestyle. By the end of her freshman year, she qualified for the state finals, finishing eighth in 52.34 seconds. Last month, she shaved that time to 50.89 to finish fourth. And in the 50 free, her time - 23.25 - in the finals of state meet would have won the title had it taken place one year earlier. But then again, she may not have had that inner motivation at that time. She does now. "I've talked to her that she can do whatever she wants, or needs, to do in the water, but she doesn't believe it yet," Arata said. "I can see it when she's out there. No one is faster. No one looks like she does in the water. I don't think anyone in Colorado Springs has swam those times, but she has so much upside. When she gets it in her head that she can be at a different level than everyone else, then look out." This breakthrough season arrived not quite three years since Rees made the decision to put away the soccer ball for good and start swimming year-round. And halfway through her high school swimming career, it looks as if Rees made the right choice. "I used to just swim in the summer while I played soccer," said Rees, whose older sister, Natalie, graduated in 2015 after a four-year varsity career as a Rangers swimmer. "I felt like swimming was a better pick for me. It was a big jump going from not traveling to going to meets in different states and dealing with the pressure to perform when you're out of your routine. Eventually, I got used to it." But can she get used to the swimming with even higher expectations for the future? Only she knows that, and she's certainly not satisfied with her stellar times to finish her sophomore season. "A year from now, I would hope I could talk about a season that I got faster and maybe did better at state," Rees said. "Winning is nice, but I'd rather drop time and do well. I'd be happy if I just did well."
Gazette Preps Peak Performer of the Week: Gina Coleman, Fountain-Fort Carson track and field

Gazette Preps Peak Performer of the Week: Gina Coleman, Fountain-Fort Carson track and field

Sat, Jan 1, 2000 - 12:00 AM

When Gina Coleman puts her mind to something, it's going to happen. That's bad news for all the track and field throwers in Class 5A. The Fountain-Fort Carson senior has overcome obstacles during her first three years of high school, and is looking for her most dominant campaign yet. Coleman won both the discus (126 feet, 5 inches) and the shot put (39-93/4) at the Pikes Peak Invitational last weekend, and she's just getting warmed up. "I'm feeling confident," Coleman said. "The marks weren't what I wanted, but if I work for it I believe that I'll be able to take state in both events. To go out that way would make my last year so great, and give me that reassurance that I'm ready to throw at the college level." Coleman is already a two-time 5A state champion - she won the shot put crown as a sophomore, and the discus title last season - but she wants more. She's already shown she can overcome adversity, as she tore her ACL in October 2015 during a volleyball match, yet still returned months later to win the discus title. "I had surgery Dec. 16 and was very sad because they told me recovery time was six months to a year, but I wanted to throw so bad," Coleman said. "I had a physical therapist who was a thrower in college, and he helped me recover faster so that I could throw. I was very determined, and I couldn't just sit there during track and field season." Coleman winning the 2016 discus state championship on essentially one leg showed her mental and physical toughness. Now, she's looking for a double-dip at state in 2017. "That's one of her goals - to win both during her senior year," F-FC coach Ben Montoya said. "Gina has a good work ethic, and she always wants to do well. She doesn't like to lose, and she works at her skills - it takes a lot of skills to do both of those events." Coleman has shown over her four years at F-FC that she has skills beyond track and field. She also has been a solid volleyball and basketball player during her time there. "Gina is just a tremendous athlete - she can jump and is so quick for someone her size and has great coordination," F-FC throwing coach Craig Kimball said. "She doesn't like to get beat - but she's both a gracious winner and loser." Coleman offers a big boost in points for her team, and complements the athletes the Trojans have on the track. "It's very satisfying to provide those points for my team, and afterwards my teammates will run over to me and be ecstatic about it," Coleman said. "I'm glad I can contribute, and I really want the team to succeed this year." Coleman will head to Colorado School of Mines next year to compete as a thrower and work toward an engineering degree. "I know I'm going to get old someday, and I need to be able to think about my career after my sports days are over," she said. "If I can be successful in school and get my education, while also getting to compete, that would be perfect."
Gazette Preps Peak Performer of the Week, Megan Engesser, Colorado Springs Christian basketball

Gazette Preps Peak Performer of the Week, Megan Engesser, Colorado Springs Christian basketball

Sat, Jan 1, 2000 - 12:00 AM

As the youngest of three children, Megan Engesser has always had to be stronger and tougher than most. The Colorado Springs Christian School sophomore may have had a high bar to reach after the prolific high school careers her brothers - Nate and Justin - compiled. But just like when the three used to roughhouse in the backyard, she's holding her own. "It never really caught up to me until high school, but then it was like, 'Oh, she's an Engesser,'" Megan said. "I want people to know that I'm different and I'm my own person. But it is kind of nerve-wracking to be behind them because they were so good. I just hope I can live up to the name." She's more than living up to that name during her sophomore season. Engesser scored 28 points in a 61-30 win against Strasburg on Friday, including going a perfect 7 for 7 from 3-point range. She followed that with 19 points in a 60-25 regional title victory over Eaton the next day. Engesser is not only leading an incredible comeback story - the Lions were 5-15 just two years, and are now 22-2 heading into the 3A state quarterfinals - but she's doing so with her dad, Mark, as the coach. "Sometimes playing for your dad isn't very fun, because I get yelled at a lot more than other people - I get yelled at sometimes for things I didn't even do," she said with a laugh. Her dad beams with pride when he talks about what it's like to coach her and watch her grow as a player. "I'm very proud of her, because she works hard and puts in the time in the offseason, so she deserves this," Mark said. "Some of her older brothers' intensity has rubbed off on her, and that's a good thing. If her brothers were out there playing basketball, she was out there, and everywhere we've lived we've made sure there was a basketball court." Since Mark took over three years ago, the team has gone from 5-15 to 17-7 last year, and now taken the leap to one of the best teams in the state. "The whole thing is really cool," he said. "The transformation these girls have had over the past three years has been amazing. They've continued to improve, and it's incredible what they've done." The CSCS girls will play rival Manitou Springs in the quarterfinals, 4 p.m. Thursday at the University of Denver. The boys' team, also coached by Mark, and led by the middle Engesser child, Justin, will begin its quest for its third straight 3A title at 1:15 p.m. Thursday. "It's a dream come true, and I hope that we can make the end of the dream part come true," Megan said. "Us both winning a state title would be incredible, but I can't even picture it right now." Megan then mentions that her mother, Jody, is the glue that holds this basketball family together. "My mom is a saint," Megan said. "Between everything she does at home, and then she goes and scouts and cheers for us. She's the real deal. She's very excited for state, but I think she gets more nervous than Justin and I do."
Gazette Preps Peak Performer : Hunter Maldonado, Vista Ridge, basketball

Gazette Preps Peak Performer : Hunter Maldonado, Vista Ridge, basketball

Sat, Jan 1, 2000 - 12:00 AM

Vista Ridge senior Hunter Maldonado won't settle in the spotlight. He'd prefer to pass it on. By now, a collection of the Wyoming commit's runaway dunks and filthy finishes has spread far across the Twitter landscape, as many basketball enthusiasts have at least gotten a peek at the forward's on-court potential. His bigger attributes are offline. Related: Sand Creek beats Vista Ridge in boys basketball rematch Maldonado, with the end of his high school career in sight, says he hopes to leave behind a team that continues to prosper well after he's gone. His guidance through some early season growing pains certainly has helped the cause. "I've told my teammates if they can learn from some of the lessons I tried to teach them, certain things, later down the road they won't have to go through the things we did earlier this year and my last year," said Maldonado, who helped the Wolves get out some bad habits early on. "If they can learn those things I'll be happy. Just to see that they're not going through things we've already been through, I'll feel pretty successful at that." Last week, Maldonado had double-doubles in wins over Greeley West and Lakewood in the first two rounds of the 5A playoffs. His 19 points and 10 rebounds Wednesday, and 20 and 10 Saturday, came despite being the primary focus of the opponents' game plan. But even more telling of his impact may have been the play of his younger teammates. "We all know Hunter is the big star and all that, but he's the guy that encourages us to step up and score more points and do more things on the basketball court," said sophomore guard Julius Dowell, who had a career-high 14 points in a 52-44 win over the Tigers on Saturday. "He's just leading us." Earlier in the year, Maldonado pushed his teammates to up their intensity and play less selfishly after Vista Ridge started 3-4, which included a 24-point loss to Liberty on Dec. 17. He mimics his coach, Joe Hites, preaching that no one player can do it alone on the court. He practices that in a desire to not only improve his game but make everyone around him better. "That's one of the biggest things, if you can get one guy to follow you, then two guys to follow you, then sooner or later the whole team has to follow you or they're going to be standing out," Maldonado said. "And no one wants to stand out by themselves. That's one of the things coach Hites tried to get me to do and that's what we preach, making everyone else better." Maldonado has at least one more game - and the hopes of a few more - left in high school. The No. 17 Wolves will have to beat No. 1 Eaglecrest in the round of 16 on Wednesday for him to continue. When it is over, though, he'll take his basketball talents and gracious personality to Laramie, Wyo. What they're getting, Hites says, is someone who gets good grades, is respected by his teammates, classmates and coaches. He shows admiration and respect to all - he eats lunch with a school custodian every day - and promises to stay grounded. "I told (Wyoming coach) Allen Edwards what kind of kid they're getting," Hites said. "There hasn't been a better player or person to come through here."
Gazette's Prep Peak Performer of the Week: Peter Isais, Pine Creek wrestling

Gazette's Prep Peak Performer of the Week: Peter Isais, Pine Creek wrestling

Sat, Jan 1, 2000 - 12:00 AM

Wrestling is in Peter Isais' blood. It's a family tradition, and he has certainly made his family proud. The Pine Creek senior defeated Cheyenne Mountain's Zac Baker by a 13-6 decision to win the 160-pound 4A state championship. It was his second straight state title - he also won the 5A crown at the same weight class last season. Related: Peter Isais, Britton Holmes claim back-to-back state wrestling titles "It's an amazing feeling to know that all your hard work and effort that you put in - in the weight room and wrestling room - paid off," Isais said. "The beauty of wrestling is that it's an individual sport, so when you go out there, it's all on you. After winning one title, your name is out there, and you have a target on your back." The target on his back didn't matter at his final state tournament. Isais lit up the scoreboard in his first two matches, winning by tech falls of 21-1 and 18-3. He won a 4-1 decision in the semifinals before coasting in the finals. "Peter is consistent, and he doesn't make mistakes - which makes him hard to beat," Pine Creek coach Billy Gabel said. "We had a really good game plan going into the match to make sure he capitalized on any bad shots his opponent took. He scored the majority of his points at the end of rounds." Wrestling runs in the family. Isais' father, Pete, won back-to-back state titles at Fowler High School in 1986-87, exactly 30 years before his son did the same. Pete is the director of national events for USA Wrestling, and also was an assistant coach on three national title-winning teams at North Dakota State University. "I've been wrestling since I was 3 years old, and I grew up around the sport," Peter said. "When I was 3, my first wrestling partner was a stuffed dog that was about 3 feet tall. I'd put on my dad's size 10 wrestling shoes and go wrestle on the mat with the dog." Wrestling that stuffed dog was the beginning, and a dominant high school career - which will leave an impact on the Pine Creek program for many years after Isais is gone - is probably the end. "He's an example of if you keep working hard and doing the right things, you will be successful," Gabel said. "When the young guys in the program are watching Peter at the state tournament, they're setting goals for themselves. I always tell the seniors to leave the program better than you got it. It's about leaving a legacy and passing on leadership, character and integrity." Here's where the story takes an unforeseen turn - Isais will not be wrestling at the college level next fall. Instead, he'll be a preferred walk-on for the North Dakota State football team. Isais was one of the best wide receivers in 4A this past season, catching 61 passes for 898 yards and 13 touchdowns to help the Eagles to their third state title in four years. "I love wrestling, and I'm not closing the door completely on doing it again, but I feel like football is a better option for me in college," Isais said. "But I'll still be checking in on the guys on the wrestling team at Pine Creek next season, that's for sure."
The Gazette's Prep Peak Performer of the Week: Cheyenne Mountain 200-yard medley relay

The Gazette's Prep Peak Performer of the Week: Cheyenne Mountain 200-yard medley relay

Sat, Jan 1, 2000 - 12:00 AM

From the moment Harper Lehman dove into the pool, it was evident the Cheyenne Mountain girls' swimming and diving team meant business at the 4A state meet. The Indians' 200-yard medley relay team, started by Harper in the backstroke, not only won the state title, but also set a 4A state record in the event (1 minute, 44.59 seconds), and was the tone setter for a team title for Cheyenne Mountain. "Being able to start the meet off like that helped the whole team get excited so that we could all swim at a high level," Lehman said. "I got to set a state record with three girls who I've grown up with and looked up to, which made this even better." Related: Manitou Springs' Dolloff-Holt sisters make final splash at state swimming Cheyenne Mountain coach Kate Doane didn't intentionally put the 200 medley relay team together to have one girl from each grade level included, but that's exactly what happened - and in order. Lehman gave way to sophomore Sophia Bricker in the breaststroke, who was followed by junior Cat Wright in the butterfly, and senior Maggie Tibbitt closed it out in the freestyle. "I couldn't have asked for a better end to my high school career," Tibbitt said. "We had a lot of talent across the board, and our freshmen were contributing to our team score just as much as the seniors. It was cool to have four girls from different grades come together for this record." The state record in the 200 medley relay was the first of several state titles for the Indians, whose team total of 308 points was 32 better than second-place Valor Christian. Wright would also win her second 100 butterfly title in the past three years, while she and Bricker were a big part of the 200 freestyle relay team that took first. "It meant so much to be the second girls' swimming team in Cheyenne Mountain history to win state, and the first in 15 years," Wright said. "We hope that (medley) record stays around for a while. It went in order of age, which was so much cooler, and showed how much everyone stepped up to the plate." Bricker has two relay state titles and a team championship on her résumé, and she has two years left in high school. "The individual side of it will push me to keep working harder the next two years," Bricker said. "But it's an incredible feeling to know that my name, and my teammates' names, will be on (4A heat sheets) for others to look at in the 200 medley, and to strive to be better than our time." Doane, who was named 4A Coach of the Year, was thrilled to see her team finally get to the top of the podium after several years of top-three finishes and near misses. "It was years of hard work, determination, perseverance and pushing through," Doane said. "We have a group of girls who were cohesive and willing to do whatever it took to bring home the gold trophy." Tibbitt is the lone member of the record-setting 200 medley relay who will need to be replaced next season. But she'll be paying attention from college. "I'll definitely check in next year," she said. "You never really leave Cheyenne Mountain, and you always bleed maroon. This is a state title for not only this team, but all the alumni."
Gazette Prep Peak Performer of the Week: Olivia Florek, St. Mary's basketball

Gazette Prep Peak Performer of the Week: Olivia Florek, St. Mary's basketball

Sat, Jan 1, 2000 - 12:00 AM

Olivia Florek loves life behind the line. The line which separates 2-pointers from 3s. The St. Mary's senior has become one of the most prolific 3-point shooters in Colorado history, but she's far from finished. Florek showed how good her sharpshooting skills are when she went 8 for 8 from beyond the arc in a 75-30 rout of Vanguard last week. She is now sixth all-time in Colorado high school girls' basketball history for 3-pointers made in a career with 231. "It would be hard to just stand out there by yourself and make eight in a row, let alone with people guarding you," St. Mary's coach Mike Burkett said. "Olivia is such a weapon, and she can probably get to fourth on that list by the time the season ends." Related: TCA's Tanner Norman is Gatorade Colorado Boys' Cross Country Runner of Year The Pirates are 13-0 and ranked No. 1 in the state in 3A. Florek, who also just passed the 1,000-point mark for her career, has been a big reason for St. Mary's success. "It means a lot, because I've worked hard and practiced a lot," said Florek, who estimates she took 200-300 practice shots per day last summer. "Now it's paying off, because my team is successful, and I'm successful." Florek has had plenty of help along the way. Between her dad rebounding for her during those summer shooting sessions, and all of her coaches, she's had plenty of guidance. However, one influence stands above the rest - her older sister, Gabi. "She was my role model when I started playing basketball," Florek said. "I saw how she played, and I wanted to be like her. She would play me one-on-one and practice with me a lot, and she's a big reason why I'm a good shooter." There was no learning curve allowed for Olivia. A year after her older sister and the 2012-13 edition of St. Mary's lost in double overtime in the state title game, she was in the starting lineup as a freshman. Since then, Florek and the Pirates have amassed a 70-16 record, and she's led the team in scoring three of those four years. "When she came in as a freshman, I knew she was going to be special," Burkett said. "She's been a leader on this team the last four years, and it's been a fun ride. You don't just get players like Olivia all the time. We're hoping Olivia can take it one step further than Gabi and get a state championship." As Florek's high school career winds down, there are several goals on her mind. A 3A Tri-Peaks title, making her first appearance at state, and trying to get her hands on a state title trophy. "We're staying focused on right now, but I have thought about winning a state title," she said. "All three of my years here, we've lost in the regional championship game and haven't been to state. So we want to make it to state first, and then go from there." However, basketball will not rule Florek's life at the next level. Her 4.36 GPA has her looking at impressive academic institutions. "My top three colleges are Villanova, Georgetown and Gonzaga, for nursing school," she said. "I'll go to one of those and play club basketball, but my focus will be academics and getting a good job in the future."