Peak Performers

Gazette Preps Peak Performer: Keelin Broeker, Palmer Ridge field hockey

Gazette Preps Peak Performer: No goals a good goal for Keelin Broeker of Palmer Ridge field hockey

Sat, Jan 1, 2000 - 12:00 AM

No matter what the sport, if the opposition can't score, it's a recipe for success.

Palmer Ridge field hockey is taking that quite literally, led by goalkeeper Keelin Broeker. The Bears are 7-0-1, and haven't allowed a goal in 490 minutes of game action.

"Going into the season, I set a goal to not get scored on, so going into every game I know I have to go attack the ball when it's down by my end of the field," Broeker said. "The mental part of the game is the hardest. If you aren't facing a lot of shots you have to find a way to keep yourself in the game, and if you are, you have to stay calm."

The Bears have emerged as one of the best - if not the best - teams in the state. Their 1-0 win over rival Colorado Academy last week, coupled with a 4-0 victory over Mountain Vista, showed Palmer Ridge is a state title contender.

"We have a pretty solid team all-around, from forwards to mids and defense, and Keelin is a very good goalkeeper," Palmer Ridge coach Paul Lewis said. "Not giving up any goals in eight games, especially against the teams we've played, is pretty exciting."

Broeker, who has earned a full-ride scholarship to play at Central Michigan next year, got into field hockey almost by accident.

Lewis and the rest of the Bears are happy fate intervened when Broeker was a freshman.

"I wanted to try out for softball my freshman year, but I missed the cutoff to try out for the team," Broeker said. "I had never heard of, or played, field hockey before, but I decided that I was going to give it a shot. I fell in love with the sport after two weeks, and then when the team needed a goalie my sophomore year, I decided to go for it, and it clicked for me."

Broeker has saved all 27 shots she's faced this season, and credits some of her mental and physical toughness to being the youngest of five children.

She plans to graduate from Palmer Ridge in December, and early enroll at Central Michigan, which has motivated her to keep getting stronger.

"I do weightlifting every day to push myself to be physically better," she said. "I keep working on something until I feel like I'm to the point where I'm solid at it."

Lewis says the special blend of mental and physical strength makes Broeker a top-notch goalkeeper.

"She's fearless, which is good because it's a crazy position to play," Lewis said. "Field hockey balls are hard, and they travel very fast, so you need to have someone who isn't afraid of anything back there. She's one of the strongest athletes in the state physically, so that combined with the fearlessness makes her a great keeper."

After the fast start, Broeker thinks her squad has its best chance for the program's first state title this season.

"I have no doubt in my mind that we can win state this year," she said. "We have an amazing group of athletes who are all willing to work hard and do whatever it takes."

Gazette's Peak Performer of the Week, Zander Offutt, Doherty football

Gazette's Peak Performer of the Week, Zander Offutt, Doherty football

Sat, Jan 1, 2000 - 12:00 AM

Almost exactly one year ago, Zander Offutt went from second-string quarterback to the man in charge of the Doherty offense.

What a difference a year can make.

The Spartan senior signal caller posted a monster game in a 57-12 rout of rival Palmer on Friday, throwing for 271 yards and four touchdowns, while also running for a score.

"The difference for me this year is having those extras practices and reps over the summer, and getting the timing right with my receivers," Offutt said. "My offensive linemen all improved over the summer and got bigger and stronger. Last year, we had a lot of young guys, and this season we're much more experienced."

In 2015, Offutt helped guide Doherty to the 5A playoffs, but his numbers were still a bit shaky. There's been day-and-night improvement for him during his senior year.

Offutt has already thrown for 589 yards and eight touchdowns in three games, compared to just 1,019 yards and four scores in 10 games last season.

"There's nothing he doesn't feel comfortable in trying to execute, and if we hit adversity, it's all good for him," Doherty coach Jeff Krumlauf said. "We're all extremely proud of the young man he's becoming. I see a much more relaxed quarterback right now, and he has a calmness that no matter what's going on, he's even keel and everything is going to be OK."

Both Krumlauf and Offutt point to another factor when it comes to the quarterback - and offense in general - playing at a high level this season.

The Spartans brought in a new offensive coordinator, Kawika Kalawe, who also serves as the quarterbacks' coach.

"Having coach Kawika come in has helped me with my reads, and also been a big help to my mental game," Offutt said. "Last year, I wasn't ready to make the right reads and know who to look for in the offense, but coach has changed that. I'm more confident in myself and my abilities this year because I've had the time to prepare."

Krumlauf has been pleased to see Kalawe - who has a special nickname - taking the offense to another gear.

"We call him 'Pretty Ricky,' and it's been a lot of fun to watch him coach the offense," Krumlauf said of Kalawe. "Zander put in a lot of work in the offseason with him, and has really learned to keep his cool. We're able to run and throw the ball with confidence."

A firmer grasp of the up-tempo offense Doherty wants to run has led to Offutt trusting himself, and his teammates, more often. It's resulted in an offense that leaves opposing defenses begging for a break.

"Our overall goal is to go fast and furious; we want 80 offensive plays each game and 500-plus yards of offense," Offutt said. "We don't like to huddle - we want everything to run quickly and smoothly."

The blowout of Palmer improved the Spartans to 2-1, but Offutt and his teammates aren't going to revel in it.

"It's always fun going to school Monday after a big win because everybody is excited," he said.

"But the football team doesn't worry about last week, we're always looking ahead to the next game."

Peak Performer: Bayli Monck, Vista Ridge

Peak Performer: Bayli Monck, Vista Ridge

Sat, Jan 1, 2000 - 12:00 AM

Bayli Monck is off to a great start to her senior volleyball season, and her father, Greg, has had a front-row seat to watch it.

Bayli, a 5-10 senior for Vista Ridge, is the early leader in kills in the entire state with 91 through eight matches. Greg, the team's coach, has enjoyed watching his daughter - who's one of three team captains - get off to a fast start.

"She has put in a lot of time and effort to get better, and it's good to see her hard work - and the commitment other people have made to her in her life - is paying off," Greg said. "In addition to her mother and I, she's had other coaches contribute to her becoming better and helping this team."

Bayli says having her dad as her coach is just fine.

"I've gotten used to it after four years, and I know the difference between when he's being my dad and being my coach," she said. "But it's fun and enjoyable to have him as my coach, and to be able to spend that time together."

All of the Wolves have enjoyed the fast start to this season. The team is 5-3, including winning all four of its matches at the Regis Tournament last weekend, without losing a single set.

Vista Ridge went 17-52 from 2012-14 before putting together a record of 11-12 last season and nearly making the playoffs. It's hoping this can be a breakout season that brings the program's first winning record since 2011.

"I think the difference this season is the drive the team has," Bayli said. "In past years, we've had some girls who didn't care as much and who went through the motions. But now, the three captains make sure everybody has the heart to play as hard as possible, and we've made it clear that we're here to win."

During practice, Bayli and Greg are player and coach. And while they've done a good job of separating sports and home life, sometimes one can creep into the other.

"We have a policy about not talking about volleyball at home, and if my wife is there, the policy is followed," Greg said with a laugh. "If she isn't, we may talk about volleyball at home. But we try to have a buffer. At school, I treat her just like the other players, and if I push her or any other player a little harder, it's because I knew they have potential."

After playing basketball as her main sport most of her life (she was the third-leading scorer for Vista Ridge last season) Bayli just recently recognized that volleyball may be a better bet for her when it comes to playing in college.

"I think my heart and my drive to play at the next level makes me a strong player," she said. "I'm better at volleyball, and I really realized my love for it while playing club ball."

"People haven't really ever thought about Vista Ridge volleyball being very good, and it is hard at a school that has very good football and basketball teams. But if we can keep playing like this, we can get more of our fellow students out here to support us and make a name for ourselves as a good volleyball team."

Gazette's Peak Performer of the Week: Payton Romines, Air Academy, softball

Gazette's Peak Performer of the Week: Payton Romines, Air Academy, softball

Sat, Jan 1, 2000 - 12:00 AM

It's been a little more than a week since high school softball season started, but Payton Romines already has the full attention of pitchers everywhere.

Through seven games, the senior slugger is batting .625, has two home runs and leads the state with 13 RBIs. She's also slugging an absurd 1.083, and teams are starting to notice.

"I wouldn't pitch to Payton if I were an opposing coach, especially in a late-game situation," Air Academy coach Chris Hernez said. "But the great thing is we have hitters in the 5-7 spots who will make teams pay for that."

Romines bats third in the Kadets' order, with Julia Elbert, another senior heavy-hitter, behind Romines in the clean-up spot.

The duo has been demolishing any and all pitching it has faced so far during Air Academy's 6-1 start.

"As captains, Julia and I wanted to be positive role models on the rest of the team, and we have to make sure the younger girls get built into the same players as us, or better," Romines said. "When they pitch around us, it pushes those girls behind us in the order to be better, and gives them opportunities to make a name for themselves."

Romines admits that she's been a work in progress the past few years. As a freshman and sophomore, she played too uptight, and put a lot of pressure on herself to succeed.

However, she's matured quite a bit in the past year, and it's showing with a huge start to her senior season.

"Payton has an air of leadership that she hasn't had before," Hernez said. "I usually don't name captains, but I'm glad I did this year with Payton and Julia. Payton is having fun and playing loose, and when she does that, it's scary for the other team."

Romines is still getting used to being treated as an elite power hitter, and says it's an unreal feeling since she never was a power hitter as a younger player.

Now that the hard work has paid off and she's being noticed as a dangerous player at the plate, she's just fine with that.

"It's a compliment, and I don't get frustrated by being walked," Romines said. "But when you hit the ball really smooth, you don't even feel the ball hit the bat. You just see it go over the fence, and there's nothing better than that."

Anchored by Romines, Air Academy just won the Triple Crown Tournament in Fort Collins, where it went 4-1 and crushed 5A Rocky Mountain 12-2 in the title game.

Hernez isn't looking forward to having to find a replacement for Romines after this season is over.

"She's been huge in building this program, and losing her is going to set us back," Hernez said. "The other players complement Payton and Julia, but things won't be the same without them next year. We're going to enjoy this season, and get the most we can out of it."

Goal No. 1 for the Kadets is another 4A PPAC title, but Romines has bigger aspirations.

"We have a great group of girls who all push each other, and we're closer than we've ever been," she said. "We really think we can be a state championship team."

Widefield's Boris Berian is a former Gazette Peak Performer, now he's in the Olympic finals in 800

Widefield's Boris Berian is a former Gazette Peak Performer, now he's in the Olympic finals in 800

Sat, Jan 1, 2000 - 12:00 AM

EDITOR'S NOTE: Here is a story from five years ago on Widefield graduate Boris Berian.  

Peak Performer: Boris Berian, Widefield track & field (May 23, 2011)

The Widefield senior talked about not only repeating as state champion in the 400 meters and 800, but doing so in record fashion. Then he went out and did it. Berian set two state records over the weekend at Jeffco Stadium in Lakewood, and also helped his team claim the 4A boys’ title in the 1,600 relay.

“The pressure (of repeating) didn’t really get to me,” said Berian, a four-time state champion. 

“There was a lot of pressure, but I didn’t focus on that. I focused on training and the mental part, telling myself that I was not going to lose.”

His times of 46.93 and 1:52.18 in the 400 and 800, respectively, are among the fastest in the nation as well as tops in Colorado. Earlier in the season, both times were as many as two seconds slower.

“That’s the result of a combination of doing really quick sprint workouts and lots of endurance workouts,” Berian said. “And my coaches tell me it’s all your head, that 90 percent of running is mental. I’ve believed I could do this, and that’s what drove me.”
Do you know any other people named Boris?
No. I have no idea how my parents came up with that name, because my older sister (Leslie) and two older brothers (Chris and Curtis) have more mainstream names.

What exactly entered your mind when you saw Cheyenne Mountain’s Nolan Mayhew pass you during the 800 on Saturday?
It didn’t surprise me, but I’m used to always getting the lead. Somebody is pushing me, and that’s good. But seeming him in front of me, I knew I had to find an extra gear.

How will you spend your free time this summer?
I want to see a lot of movies, especially the comic book ones. Definitely the “Green Lantern” and “Captain America” for sure.
And what about when you’re not catching up on movies?
I’m looking for a job. I’m really not very picky. The past few summers, I’ve worked with a neighbor of mine and have learned landscaping and being a handyman. I can do some light construction and yardwork.
What was your “breakfast of champions” on Saturday morning?
Cheerios and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Who would you pay money to see in concert?
Probably Usher. I really like a lot of his music and The Dream. I also like a lot of the old-school R&B, too.
Best Boris
( x) Badenov   ( ) Becker    (  ) Yeltsin   ( ) Karloff
Favorite snack
(  ) Chips    (  ) Gummy bears   (x) Peanut Butter Cups  (  ) M&M’s
All-time best
(  ) Hayes    (  ) Jenner     (  ) Lewis     (x) Johnson
Greatest throwback rhythm and blues
(  ) Kool & the Gang   (x) Earth, Wind & Fire   (  ) Commodores    (  ) Isley Brothers