Peak Performers
The Gazette Girls' Track and Field Peak Performer: Maria Mettler, Air Academy

The Gazette Girls' Track and Field Peak Performer: Maria Mettler, Air Academy

Sat, Jan 1, 2000 - 12:00 AM

The Air Academy girls' track and field team was an underdog heading into the 4A state meet. Niwot's team had six first-place finishes during the season and were favorites to win the state championship. But the Kadets had Maria Mettler. Her performance helped lead Air Academy to the 4A state championship, and earned her The Gazette's girls' track and field Peak Performer of the Year. Related: The Gazette 2017 Girls' Track and Field All-Area teams The senior distance runner had already won the 2016 state championship in cross country, and she had set her focus on the 3,200 as her next conquest. "For me, over the summer last year I trained really hard, so my goal was to do really well in cross country," Mettler said. "... So I really just wanted to continue that success. And I had did have an idea, like I wanted to win the 3200 state title, because I love the 3200. I love long distances." Mettler reached her goal, winning the 3,200 by nearly 10 seconds. She wasn't done. Mettler won the 800, finished second in the 1,600 and helped her 4x800 team finish fourth. Overall she played a part in 34 points for Air Academy. The Kadets had relied heavily on Mettler, but she didn't mind. "I wanted to be a leader, but I didn't feel any unnecessary pressure," Mettler said. "I just wanted to perform well for myself, and I knew what I was capable of, and I wanted to achieve my goals. But I didn't feel any pressure on me, but I did want to lead my team and be a good example. So by doing my best for myself I felt like I could do that." The commitment that aided in Mettler's success isn't just on the track. It also shows itself in her eating and sleeping habits at home. They are habits that were instilled in her at a young age by her mother - a runner in her own right - and Mettler maintains them to this day. "(My family) all eats pretty healthy, and getting enough sleep is the main thing," Mettler said. "That's kind of hard with school sometimes - you'll have late nights. But when you can get to bed early, that's the main thing. You have to go to bed and get enough sleep." All of this - Mettler's training, health habits, leadership and natural skill - makes for an impressive athlete. It's the type of athlete that isn't easy to replace, which is why coach Chuck Schwartz has tried to build a program in which the upperclassmen, like Mettler, mentor the underclassmen to better prepare them for being successful in the future. That atmosphere has left it's mark on Mettler. "It's really important," Mettler said. "When you're running and you're just getting into it, and you're like a freshman or sophomore and you're young doing it, it's sometimes easy to lose the fun in it. Running is a really hard sport - racing and training - it's a really hard sport to find the joy in it. So for me, like showing them, 'Hey, you can find the fun in doing good in workouts,' it's just something that I enjoy. And I think when I portray that, it really affects the younger runners." Schwartz hopes this will help to ease the loss of Mettler, but he knows that's a tall task for any program. Perhaps he put it most appropriately when discussing his senior. "It's impossible to replace a leader like Maria."
The Gazette Girls' Track and Field Coach of the Year: Chuck Schwartz, Air Academy

The Gazette Girls' Track and Field Coach of the Year: Chuck Schwartz, Air Academy

Sat, Jan 1, 2000 - 12:00 AM

Coach Chuck Schwartz knew his Air Academy girls' track and field team had the potential to be something special. He had experience on his roster in senior thrower Katelin Gallegos, senior distance runner Maria Mettler, and junior sprinter Olivia Whitaker, who were all poised to have successful seasons. But Schwartz knew he had to get contributions from his other runners too - not just for this season, but for when Gallegos, Mettler and Whitaker are gone. He had prepared for this, though, implementing an atmosphere where the upperclassmen are expected to mentor the underclassmen. This approach helped Schwartz to be recognized as The Gazette's girls' track and field Coach of the Year. His technique also paid off at the 4A state track and field meet. Gallegos, Mettler and Whitaker combined for 64 points by themselves, and if you include the relay teams containing Mettler and Whitaker, that number jumped to 78, which would have been good enough to place the Air Academy second overall. But the Kadets needed more to overcome Niwot, the favorites to win the state meet. Senior Kamerin Valdes came through, finishing fourth and sixth in the 200 and 400, respectively, for 10 points, while senior high jumper Allyson Stanley finished seventh in the high jump to earn three points. Add that to freshman distance-runner Tatum Miller's ninth-place finish in the 3200 and Air Academy had 92 points. Niwot had 83. The Kadets had won and lived up to Schwartz's expectations from the beginning of the year. "I had a good idea that we would have an outside shot at being one of the top teams in the state, it's just a lot of things had to come together," Schwartz said. "You had to avoid some injuries and make sure we get people on board, so yeah I had a sense it was there, and a lot of things fell together well." Schwartz's job isn't done now, though. He may be losing Mettler, Gallegos and the rest of the senior class, but he's prepared his team to make up for their losses. It starts with finding a way to replace Mettler's leadership. "We spent this year preparing for that well," Schwartz said. "We invest a lot in our underclassmen. ... I think we had four freshmen at (the state meet). We had three freshmen sprinters and then Tatum (Miller) who's a freshman distance runner, and I think we had a few alternates who were freshmen. But, yeah, we put a pretty heavy emphasis on our underclassmen to try to . we started doing that so that we can not feel the loss so much, because it's impossible to replace a leader like Maria. Hopefully she passes it on and a kid picks up the torch." The transition won't be all bad - Whitaker's return for her senior season will assure that. But Schwartz certainly has his work cut out for him. Yet, if his investment in the freshmen this spring pays off, perhaps the he will find himself with that same good feeling at the beginning of next season.
The Gazette Boys’ Track Peak Performer: Tanner Norman, TCA

The Gazette Boys’ Track Peak Performer: Tanner Norman, TCA

Sat, Jan 1, 2000 - 12:00 AM

Past disappointments and falling short of personal goals have served as motivation for Tanner Norman. That translated into quite a sendoff for the TCA senior distance runner. “This year was pretty good,” said Norman, the boys’ track and field Peak Performer. “I set my goals pretty high, and I used any frustration of coming up sort as fuel. I can’t think of anything I missed out on. This year, I’ve been pretty lucky. I’ve gotten to do everything and maybe a little more.” Norman, on the heels of winning his second straight state cross country title last October, continued that momentum into the spring, focused on winning the 1,600- and 3,200-meter races, events he finished second the season before at the state meet in Lakewood. He did that, claiming victory in the 3,200 in a 3A state-meet time of 9 minutes 14.45 seconds, helping the Titans to a runner-up finish in the team standings. He also stood on the podium’s top step after winning gold in the 1,600. Prior to state, on May 5 , Norman set a state all-class record by clocking a time of 9:04.97 in the 3,200 at the Pueblo Twilight at Dutch Clark Stadium. And to think that one year ago, Norman’s best time in the eight-lap race was more than 30 seconds slower. As a freshman, he could barely break the 10-minute plateau. “He got markedly better through high school,” Titans distance and cross country coach Alan Versaw said. “That’s the kind of progression you like to see. Actually, that is staggering when you think about it. Normally, you see that tailing off in improvement. Where does that come from? That underscores how hard he works.” That hard work continues into the summer as he prepares for a college career at Iowa State. But first, he’ll see where he stacks up with the nation’s best at the Brooks PR Invitational, June 17 in suburban Seattle. To put his state-record effort in perspective, his mark in Pueblo was 14 seconds slower than the winning time in the 3,200 in last year’s Brooks event. “To show up to a meet like that, you’re just a face in the crowd,” Norman said. “It can be humbling, but it’s always a good experience to go and do something like that. It’s cool to meet new people.” And he’ll meet plenty of new people in Ames, people who likely could beat him out for a spot on the team this season. But that’s OK with Norman. He knows what happens when his high standards aren’t met. “I have to sit down with the new coach and figure things out,” Norman said. “My goal this year is to get better and stay healthy. I might go in and make the team. If not, that’s fine. I have an extra year to develop, and I can use that to get better.”
Lewis-Palmer's Billy Cook is The Gazette Baseball Peak Performer of the Year

Lewis-Palmer's Billy Cook is The Gazette Baseball Peak Performer of the Year

Sat, Jan 1, 2000 - 12:00 AM

Billy Cook's spikes were just big enough to fill the void at Lewis-Palmer. The Rangers entered the season without Paul Tillotson, who headed to Nebraska after garnering The Gazette Baseball Peak Performer of the Year honor in 2016. Cook picked up right where Tillotson left off, batting .545 as a senior with 33 RBIs and six home runs. That was two more than Tillotson hit during his last season at Lewis-Palmer. And like his former teammate, Cook is now the Peak Performer of the Year. Related: Baseball coach of the year deflects credit to his player "I just went out there and knew I had to be a leader for the team," Cook said. "So every at bat, every ground ball, I tried to set an example for the younger guys on what they need to do, what their approach should be, and how they should continue to approach the game even as they get older." Lewis-Palmer coach Brett Lester realized Cook was going to be an outstanding player when he took over the program ahead of the 2016 season. "(Cook) is also a really good basketball player, so he would show up late to baseball during both seasons I coached there with him and the first day he showed up junior year, after state tournament basketball, watching him move and throw, there was a noticeable difference between him and the other kids, who were very talented," Lester said on the first time he watched Cook play baseball. "Just hearing the other kids and coaches react after he would make a play, you knew you had a player in him from Day 1." Lester said Cook is "without question" among the top players in Colorado, noting the pair of triples the 6-foot, 170-pound shortstop/outfielder hit in a playoff loss to Silver Creek. "You could tell teams were having to adjust with the way they pitched to him," Lester said. "A lot of teams don't do that as much in high school ball, but coaches were very aware when he came to the plate." Although Cook shone once out of Tillotson's shadow, it is not like he was a one-hit wonder. He also steadily improved, batting .269 as a freshman, .421 as a sophomore and .603 as a junior. That improvement didn't happen by accident. According to Lester, Cook generally logged a few minutes in the batting cages by the time he teammates showed up for practice. Colleges took note. Places like BYU, Air Force and Colorado Mesa all took interest. Even UCLA contacted him. But those schools couldn't displace Cook's dream university: Pepperdine. "First of all, the beautiful campus played a huge role," Cook said on why he chose to become a Wave. "Then when I went there and met the coaches, they were the greatest coaching staff I have ever talked too, better than my high school coaches or anyone I have been in contact with. Then the players, I met them, and they all said they loved (Pepperdine). Before I have even knew about the baseball program and how good they were, the education there is close to Ivy League, not necessarily the same caliber, but smaller school, great teachers and everything else. So, it just really provides all the opportunities I have been looking for in a college." And heading to Malibu, Calif., the Pepperdine coaching staff doesn't expect Cook to redshirt. "They said they are going to play the best players and if that's a freshman from Colorado, then that's who they are going to put in," Cook said. "That's really it. I don't know where I will be playing. In the infield or anything. They just said, 'Come out here and we will find a spot for you and we look forward to four years.'"
The Gazette Girls' Soccer Peak Performer: Brianna Alger, Lewis-Palmer

The Gazette Girls' Soccer Peak Performer: Brianna Alger, Lewis-Palmer

Sat, Jan 1, 2000 - 12:00 AM

For as many times as Lewis-Palmer's Brianna Alger stole the spotlight on the field with her wizardly ball skills and untouched speed, she just as effectively dodged attention off of it. For her senior year, Alger could've easily worn the "C" on her jersey without debate. After posting more goals than the total of the next three best scorers on the team as a junior and having the most assists while leading the Rangers to a state title, she appeared to be a shoo-in. She declined, anyway. "We have positions where you have to try out for captain but I didn't want to do that because I felt like putting myself in the captain role would make me seem in a way superior, even though that's not the captain's role," said Alger, The Gazette Girls' Soccer Peak Performer of the Year. "I just wanted to be on the same level as all my teammates." Related: The Gazette 2017 Girls' Soccer Coach of the Year: Carisa Whitson, Rampart It wasn't that Alger didn't want to lead or that she didn't push her team. She led by example. This spring, she carried the Rangers in the scoring department with 24 goals and 12 assists despite consistently being the focal point of opponent game plans. In the final game of her high school career, and maybe her best yet, she lifted the Rangers out of a 2-0 deficit in the state quarterfinals against Windsor with a dominant second half that included two goals. Although eventually losing 3-2 in overtime, it was a fitting end to Alger's storied career. "She played out of her mind," L-P coach Ryan Parsons said. "Everything in that second half she was doing right. Making the right moves, the right passes, she definitely wanted to win that game." Alger will play soccer at Washington State. On Thursday afternoon, she said she was leaving for Pullman, Wash., to take summer classes in order to lighten up the academic load during the season. She leaves behind an unrivaled legacy at L-P. Alger led the Rangers in goals each of her four seasons in high school, averaging 1.2 goals over her career. In her 73 games, she had 91 goals and 38 assists. "She probably could've scored more goals this year but she was really looking to be that full-team player," Parsons said. "That's the type of girl she is. She's not in it for the accolades, she's not in it for the awards, ultimately she wants to be with the team. It's pretty awesome to see a girl that good with her talent, so humble."
The Gazette Boys' Lacrosse Peak Performer: August Johnson, Cheyenne Mountain

The Gazette Boys' Lacrosse Peak Performer: August Johnson, Cheyenne Mountain

Sat, Jan 1, 2000 - 12:00 AM

Cheyenne Mountain's August Johnson had a strong tendency to go left when attacking the net this season. Defenses knew it and his coaches didn't hide it. There was still no stopping him. Johnson, more often than not, was too strong, fast and determined, and finished his junior season with 48 goals and 36 assists, helping lead Cheyenne Mountain into the state semifinals for the third straight season. Coach Mike Paige's praise of his standout midfielder ranged everywhere from his "great sense of humor," to his relentless drive on the field and in the classroom, to being the "best athlete at the school." Related: The Gazette Boys' Lacrosse Coach of the Year: Dan Mullins, Lewis-Palmer "He really makes us great," Paige said of Johnson, The Gazette Boys' Lacrosse Peak Performer of the Year. Johnson's continued transformation into one of the top lacrosse prospects in the state starts and ends with his work off the field and out of pads. With the same kind of head-swiveling skills that are marveled over at something like the NFL Combine, Johnson has built an athletic framework like few others. Ambidextrous with a shot clocked at 105 mph, Johnson is also a rare breed of strength and speed. Dead lifting 405 pounds and squatting 375, the junior also said he set the school record in the shuttle run (a 20-yard dash in 2.41 seconds) and the pro agility shuttle, which assesses someone's quickness and ability to change directions. Johnson logged the most minutes on the team last season, per his coach, despite facing a steady barrage of double and triple teams. "It's good to be well-rounded, I guess. It's good to be physically capable," Johnson said. "It's important to have stick skills, obviously, but I think something a lot of kids overlook is the physical aspect. They don't lift as hard as they should and don't run as hard as they should." The wide range of Johnson's game and character were no more evident than during his team's 17-9 loss to Valor Christian in the state semifinals May 17. Early on, Johnson absorbed a big hit that opened a gash on his chin. The cut needed Super Glue to close the wound. But in a fitting brand of lacrosse justice, Johnson punctured his own hole - rifling a shot so hard it tore the twine and busted out the back of the net. After the game, his teammates voted the bruised, cut-up junior as one of three captains for the team next season. "It was a humbling experience and made me feel kind of valued on the team," Johnson said. "We're all there for each other. We see when someone's busting their butt and trying their hardest, things don't go overlooked." Johnson is verbally committed to play lacrosse at Air Force.
The Gazette Girls' Lacrosse Peak Performer: Sam Rippley, Palmer Ridge

The Gazette Girls' Lacrosse Peak Performer: Sam Rippley, Palmer Ridge

Sat, Jan 1, 2000 - 12:00 AM

Sam Rippley could well be the definition of a "multisport athlete" after playing five sports during her time at Palmer Ridge. But it was the last sport she participated in that helped her earn the most recognition. When Palmer Ridge coach Kristy Opresko first laid eyes on Rippley on the lacrosse field, she knew she had a player on her hands. "Wow. This girl is so athletic and she works so hard," Opresko said about her first reaction. According to Opresko, who has since stepped down since the season ended, Rippley had such a drive to be great that a coach couldn't teach. Related: The Gazette Girls' Lacrosse Coach of the Year: Kali Maxwell, Air Academy Rippley, The Gazette Girls' Lacrosse Peak Performer of the Year, led Palmer Ridge in points (69) and goals (47), and had a 54.2 shooting percentage. While the statistics support the reasoning behind Rippley winning the honor, it was the little things the midfielder did that made her one of the best players in Colorado. Rippley, who normally shoots right-handed, learned how to shoot with her left this season. She also incorporated a shot fake that helped her succeed. "She is an all-around player, which I think makes her one of the best in the league and one of the best in the state," Opresko said. "She plays amazing defense. She is aggressive. She has great stick skills. She is great on goals, but her statistics in other categories that don't get much attention such as draw control and just a general ability to put her on a strong attacker as a defender and she can shut them down, those things don't show up in statistics. She is very good at all aspects of the game." Although Opresko considers Rippley to be one of the best in the state, she believes that she has a ways to go in terms of tactical skills. Opresko really credits Rippley's success to her athleticism. Once Rippley sets foot onto Davidson's campus, where Rippley will play lacrosse next season, Opresko believes Rippley will open quite a few eyes. "I think she still has a lot of work to do on the tactical skills and she is going to get there when she plays Division I at Davidson," Opresko said. "You really can't teach athleticism and you can't teach that competitive drive to always want to improve and always wanting to play your best. She keeps improving. I think with some more time and (when she) has a chance to just concentrate on lacrosse, she is probably going to amaze us." While Rippley might turn into one of the best college lacrosse players once she focuses on the sport, it will be awhile until Palmer Ridge replaces her skills. "There is going to be a huge void, especially in Palmer Ridge's midfield when she goes," Opresko said. "But it's going to be very difficult to fill in her shoes. I don't honestly think it's possible. Palmer Ridge is definitely losing someone that they probably won't replace anytime soon."
The Gazette Boys' Swimming Peak Performer: Daniel Carr, Cheyenne Mountain

The Gazette Boys' Swimming Peak Performer: Daniel Carr, Cheyenne Mountain

Sat, Jan 1, 2000 - 12:00 AM

Daniel Carr has won before. At the 2015 4A state meet, he set event records in the 200-yard individual medley and the 100 freestyle, while helping set a state record with Cheyenne Mountain's 400 free relay team. Carr's performance aided the Indians in earning their first state championship since 2002, and Carr qualified for the U.S. Olympic swim trials. Related: The Gazette 2017 Boys' Swimming and Diving All-Area teams In 2016, Carr opted not to swim with Cheyenne Mountain to focus on those trials. Things didn't go as planned, though. Carr came down with the flu three days before the trials, and failed to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics. With that behind him, Carr's 2017 season was a bit different. He felt like he had something to prove. He certainly did and is The Gazette's boys' swimming Peak Performer of the Year. "This whole year, (the Olympic trials) has been in the back of my mind," Carr said. "It's been a real motivator in practice, and in meets, to prove to everybody that I am the swimmer that qualified for trials, and I didn't go there because it was chance. I just wanted to prove that I can swim at that level." Carr proved his worth and then some. In his final season with the Indians, he finished first at the 4A state finals in four events: the 50 free, 500 free, 200 free relay and 400 free relay. Cheyenne Mountain reigned supreme again, earning its third straight state championship. It's no coincidence that the Indians' dominance coincides with Carr's tenure. "Swimming has been a part of his genes since he was little," said Cheyenne Mountain coach Kate Doane, who called him the team MVP. "He's got an amazing work ethic about himself. He trains club year-round. It's one small aspect of his swimming career, is high school. He's going to go off to do amazing stuff in college and be a part of the World Junior Championship team. I mean, he's a phenomenal swimmer, and it's been awesome watching him grow as an athlete and as a person over the years." Doane also credited Cheyenne Mountain's success to its competitiveness in practice, something Carr said came natural to the team. "The guys on our team, we've been swimming together since we were 8 years old," Carr said. "We've always, kind of, raced each other in practice and in meets. So I think that was already set up. It wasn't our year, it wasn't anybody else's on that team. It's just a lot of competitive guys that don't like to lose. That kind of environment, you love it. That's what makes us Cheyenne." Carr will leave Cheyenne Mountain to swim at California. Perhaps what has made his time with the Indians so memorable to others is the success he's had in the pool - he leaves as one of the most prolific swimmers in school history. To him, though the state championships are memorable, the team atmosphere and the relationships he's built are what will stay with him. "The relationships I've made with the coach and other teammates, I've never really had that before. That's what I'm most proud of," Carr said. "There were nights where we win the Indian Invite, and then we go out and play a two-hour game of Ultimate Frisbee. It's times like those that are just so fun that I will never forget."
The Gazette Girls' Tennis Peak Performer: Morgan Hall, Cheyenne Mountain

The Gazette Girls' Tennis Peak Performer: Morgan Hall, Cheyenne Mountain

Sat, Jan 1, 2000 - 12:00 AM

Few players on the state's high school tennis circuit can hammer the ball like Cheyenne Mountain sophomore Morgan Hall can, and maybe even fewer are as hard on themselves. At least on one account, she's lightening up. The Indians' No. 1 singles player made a philosophical change to her game midway through the season, straying away from an all-winners, all-the-time approach, to a more strategic and paced effort. Related: The Gazette Girls' Tennis Coach of the Year: Dave Adams, Cheyenne Mountain The dramatic flip came after a loss to Valor Christian's Emily Untermeyer in mid-April. It stuck. Suddenly, the masher was also hitting for more accuracy and extending points. With her new style of play, she won the 4A Region 6 title and made it to her second straight state semifinal. "That takes a lot of patience to want to do that," Cheyenne Mountain coach Dave Adams said. "You're a young player and you have all these weapons that you want to use all the time. I think she's realizing when is the right time to pull the trigger and also learn how to set a point up." Hall, The Gazette Girls' Tennis Peak Performer of the Year, was eventually ousted by Kent Denver's Josie Schaffer, who won her second straight No. 1 singles title. Hall, meanwhile, finished fourth for the Indians, who won six of the seven individual titles en route to their ninth straight team title. While the sophomore, her own worst critic, called her finish to the season "not ideal," Adams was quick to point out how valuable he deemed his No. 1 player. "She leads by being such a strong player for us, by how she competes and by how much it means to her," Adams said. "She really takes losses pretty hard. And in a way, to see that competitiveness and that it means that much to her, I think it shows the other girls a good role model for them." Hall has two more years of high school and said she is committed to sticking with her matured brand of play. This summer, her plan is to improve her endurance after she admitted the added strokes and movement from her adjustment, at times, made her tired during the season. Part of that plan, she said, is to run the Manitou Incline "three to four times a week." "You have to be in really, really good shape to be able to sustain keeping the ball in 30 times if you have to," Hall said. "I'm going to get in incredible shape and I think it's going to reflect in my tennis game."
The Gazette Girls' Golf Peak Performer of year: Arielle Keating, Rampart

The Gazette Girls' Golf Peak Performer of year: Arielle Keating, Rampart

Sat, Jan 1, 2000 - 12:00 AM

Arielle Keating needed to make up her mind. A weekend at Augusta National helped steer the then-sophomore at Rampart toward the game of golf as a single pursuit. "I wasn't completely devoted to golf, or any one sport, for a long time," Keating said earlier this week while vacationing with her family in Branson, Mo. "I participated in the Drive, Chip and Putt at the Masters last year. That was a lot of fun and I placed sixth in my age group. I thought to myself, 'Hey, I should continue with this golf thing.'" So Keating stopped kicking the soccer ball and put away her volleyball gear to pour all her time and talent into one sport. Related: The Gazette Girls' Golf Coach of the Year: Shane Brown, Pine Creek Had she continued soccer and club volleyball, Keating might not have shot under par in four consecutive tournaments during the recently completed regular season and won a third straight 5A Colorado Springs Metro League individual crown. And she likely wouldn't have made the leap from 13th to sixth overall at the 5A state tournament and earned honors as The Gazette Girls' Golf Peak Performer. "She practiced over the winter for the first time, and she took her game to a different level," said Brad Keating, her father, coach and PGA professional. "In the past, she would play her three months and be off to other sports. It became a battle of which sport was winning out. I think she made a good choice." Arielle thinks so too. In addition to her experience at Augusta, her father played a major influence in her choice to pick golf over soccer and volleyball. "With my dad being a club pro, he'd coach me when we were at the range," Arielle said. "It didn't feel like practice. It was just fun to go out with your parents. Because of my dad, I stuck with it. I think a lot of it depends on what you're parents do, and I'm really happy I chose golf." She's so happy - and talented - that she verbally committed to Florida Atlantic University as a junior. The family is packing their bags for Boca Raton a year ahead of time to get a head start, so Arielle can enter college as an in-state student and play year round in sunny Florida. She'll play for Kathy Baker-Guadagnino, a former NCAA national champion who later spent 20 years on the LPGA Tour, highlighted by a U.S. Women's Open victory in 1985. For Keating, it's all about the big picture now that she's made up her mind. "She's a strong coach, something my dad and I were looking for," Arielle said. "My dad has been coaching me since I was little. I love my dad, but it'll be nice to have a different voice. She has that experience of winning on tour, someone who can prep me for that. That's what I'm hoping to strive for."
Gazette Peak Performer of the Week: Maria Mettler, Air Academy track

Gazette Peak Performer of the Week: Maria Mettler, Air Academy track

Sat, Jan 1, 2000 - 12:00 AM

In her future years as a cadet at the Air Force Academy, Maria Mettler inevitably will find herself faced with adversity and have her will tested in times of great duress. She's already well on her way to success in those scenarios, and she's barely out of high school. Mettler, who walked across the stage to receive her diploma from Air Academy on Thursday, battled through an oncoming cold through the compressed, two-day state meet in Lakewood over the weekend. She still managed to win two races, finish runner-up in another and help Air Academy to the program's first track and field state title. Related: Pikes Peak area claims four team titles at state track and field meet "It was more mental, because no one likes to run when they're sick," Mettler said. "I just had to do the best I could do and race for my team. This year, my mind has gotten stronger. Running at state not feeling 100 percent taught me not to look at the negatives. You can't control the weather or sickness. You just control what you can control and do your best and whatever happens, happens." The meet, normally held over three days, was pushed back two days because of snowy weather in the Denver area and held over a two-day span by eliminating preliminaries. On Saturday, Mettler gave the Kadets 10 points by winning the 3,200 meters and later helped the 3,200 relay to a fourth-place finish. The next day, she claimed the title in the 800 before taking her turn in the 1,600 late with Air Academy trying to hold off Niwot for the team crown. "At the end, I told her that we needed six points for the win," Kadets coach Chuck Schwartz said. "Six points would put us up by 11, so mathematically, there was no way Niwot could beat us. Well, Maria finished second and got us eight points, which is kind of what she's all about. She always gives us more than what's required of her. She sucked it up for the team and ran four races not feeling anywhere close to 100 percent." Before moving to Colorado prior to her junior year, Mettler spent the majority of her time playing soccer. Track was a distant second, and cross country wasn't on her radar. Early that year, Mettler found herself craving cross country, having joined the team at Air Academy after her father lost his job in Reno, Nev., but found a new opportunity as general manager of a fitness center in Colorado Springs. She helped the Kadets, behind leadership of Katie Rainsberger and Kayla Wiitala, to the program's first cross country title in 2016. Now in that leadership role as a senior, Mettler took charge by crossing the finish line first at the 4A state cross country meet last fall. She kept it going in track season and created memories for a lifetime by celebrating on the top step of the podium Sunday. And because of the two-day weather delay, she also got to participate in graduation, something she would have missed had the weather cooperated. "I was going to not walk and run at state," Mettler said. "I'm glad I was able to do both."
Gazette Preps Peak Performer of the Week: Claire Dibble, Cheyenne Mountain tennis

Gazette Preps Peak Performer of the Week: Claire Dibble, Cheyenne Mountain tennis

Sat, Jan 1, 2000 - 12:00 AM

Claire Dibble had accomplished just about everything as a tennis player at Cheyenne Mountain. She crossed the last accolade off her list during the final match of her high school career. Dibble, a senior, leaves the program with four team state titles, two 4A No. 2 doubles championships and now a 4A No. 3 singles crown. "It was the best possible conclusion to my senior year and my high school career," she said. "It was especially cool because I finished third last year and was able to come back and win it this time. It made me feel like I accomplished a lot as a tennis player." Gallery: Nine straight titles for Cheyenne Mountain Dibble found herself in a familiar position in her semifinals match against Kent Denver's Maeve Kearney. Last year, Dibble lost to a Kent Denver player in the same round, on the same court. This time, she dispatched Kearney 6-4, 6-2 to reach the finals. Dibble, who was playing through a painful injury caused by torn cartilage in her ribs, had cruised through the first three matches at state, and looked across the net at Valor Christian's Isabella Pacheco in the state final. For the first time at state, Dibble found herself against the ropes after dropping the first set 6-4. However, she responded like a champion, taking the final two sets 6-3, 6-0. "I realized that this was my last high school tennis match ever, so I left everything I had out on the court in the second and third sets," Dibble said. Cheyenne Mountain coach Dave Adams has watched Dibble grow from a girl who won No. 2 doubles state titles as a freshman and sophomore to a champion in singles. "Claire was a really nice doubles player, but you still have to learn the strategy of singles play," Adams said. "She was great at the state tournament, and she was tough when she got pushed in the finals. A lot of doubles players don't have the skills to transfer to singles, but Claire embraced it." Dibble was one of three seniors on this year's squad, along with Ally Arenson and Casey Ahrendsen - who won the No. 1 doubles state title together all four years. The Indians won their ninth straight 4A team championship, taking six of the seven finals titles. The streak is something Dibble and her fellow seniors took great pride in continuing. "The streak is a good overall motivator," Dibble said. "It was in the back of our minds, especially the seniors, and we wanted to go out champions and make memories. To know we all contributed to the streak is a very special feeling." Adams was happy to see his seniors go out on top. "Those three accumulated 11 individual state titles, so that tells you that it's a strong group of kids," he said. "We're going to miss all three of them very much." Dibble is off to Wheaton College, just west of Chicago, where she'll study elementary education to become a teacher. She won't be playing competitive tennis anymore, but will be checking up on the Indians. "I would love to come back next year and see them win another trophy," she said. "If they are working hard and putting in time in the offseason like we have in the past, then I can see it happening."
Gazette Preps Peak Performer of the Week: Tanner Norman, The Classical Academy track

Gazette Preps Peak Performer of the Week: Tanner Norman, The Classical Academy track

Sat, Jan 1, 2000 - 12:00 AM

Tanner Norman and his coaches hatched a plan several months ago to capture a state record. This wasn't necessarily an "Ocean's Eleven" type heist. The plan was relatively simple - The Classical Academy senior would try to break the Colorado state high school record for any classification in the 3,200-meter run. The place chosen was the Pueblo Twilight meet at Dutch Clark Stadium, and the date was May 5. It was far from easy, but Norman emerged with a time of 9 minutes, 4.97 seconds, which was 0.92 seconds faster than the previous record, held by Brent Vaughn of 5A Smoky Hill, from 2003. "It was over the winter, like February," Norman said of when the planning began. "Before the season started we laid out what the plan was, and we decided that this would be the best meet to go for it because it was late in the season and I'd be more fit than I was in March. The race was at night, so the conditions are almost always perfect in Pueblo." Norman, an Iowa State commit, said he wasn't overly nervous in the months and weeks leading up to May 5, but on that day, he began to feel those nerves. "I thought it was something that I could get after, and it was cool to do it," he said. "The half-hour following the race was really special. The entire field from the race went out and cooled off together and they were all congratulating me. It was special to get to share that moment with my competitors and my teammates who were in the race." Norman was completely spent after crossing the finish line, and acknowledged that it was harder to accomplish than he could've imagined. His track and field coach, Tim Daggett, and his cross country coach, Alan Versaw, were both holding their breath during the final few meters. "At first, I didn't think he had done it, and then Alan came running over and said that he thought Tanner did it," Daggett said. "The distance community had an idea that there was a chance he set the record, but this wasn't something that we publicized too much." With a state record in his back pocket, along with two cross country state titles and a Colorado Gatorade Runner of the Year award, there's only one thing left for Norman to cross off his high school list. He finished second at the 4A state track meet in both the 1,600 and 3,200 runs in 2016. TCA was moved down to 3A for 2017. "It would be icing on the cake to win two state titles, and to go out on top would be cool," Norman said. "Plus, the team is in the hunt for a title this year, so to score some points for the team would be really important. I'm hoping to go out with wins, and also get my teammates up on the podium with me." Daggett wants to see his record-setter collect two state titles. "It would be a nice finish for him," Daggett said. "As much individual praise as he's earned, he's still an extremely unselfish kid, and he'll be rooting for his teammates as much as he will for himself. He's a serious and focused, but humble kid."
Gazette Preps Peak Performers of the Week: Madeleine Bourgois and Brittney White, Pine Creek girls' lacrosse

Gazette Preps Peak Performers of the Week: Madeleine Bourgois and Brittney White, Pine Creek girls' lacrosse

Sat, Jan 1, 2000 - 12:00 AM

The Pine Creek girls' lacrosse team may be young, but don't be mistaken - it's dangerous. The Eagles are 10-4 entering the final game of the regular season this week, and feature a roster predominantly of sophomores and juniors. Among those are sophomore scoring machines Brittney White and Madeleine Bourgois. White has tallied 50 goals and 19 assists this season, while Bourgois has 38 and seven. "We work together really well, and we've grown a lot together," White said. "Madeleine and I used to play together on a club team, and we grew our relationship then." Related: RPI rankings for boys' and girls' lacrosse In three games last week, the duo combined for 23 goals and seven assists. The Eagles have won four in a row, and are one of the hottest teams in the state as the playoffs approach. Pine Creek made the playoffs last season after a 13-2 campaign, and lost an 11-10 heartbreaker in the first round. This year's team hopes to be the first in program history to win a postseason game. "We are very excited and are looking forward to going to the playoffs and winning a game this year," Bourgois said. "It would be an honor if we were the first team in program history to win a playoff game, and it would mean all the work we've been doing paid off." White is the catalyst for the Pine Creek offense, taking the draws and gaining possession. Bourgois is the hard-shooting attacker who causes havoc behind the opposing net. Add in the Hatchell twins, juniors Kate and Riley, who have a combined 61 goals and 17 assists, and this is one dangerous squad. "We've tried to get the girls to understand that if we're patient and run our offense, they can all score," coach Roger Wallace said. "We have a cast of characters on this team and it's really a team effort. The coaching staff has some high aspirations for where we want this season to go." With only three seniors on the roster, this team is just beginning to scratch the surface of its potential, and will be a handful for years to come. "I knew we'd be good, but wasn't sure if we'd be as strong as we were last year," Bourgois said. "Our seniors really have helped us a lot because most of them play defense, and they're the ones who get us the ball so we can do what we do on the attack side." White doesn't have to look far during practices or games to find her biggest fan, and sometimes, toughest critic. Her father, Nate, is the assistant coach. "It's really crazy, and a lot of fun, to play for my dad," she said. "We've grown our relationship stronger the past two years, and I can take the coaching easier now." With two more seasons left after the current one, White and Bourgois plan on frustrating opponents together for years to come. "I think it's difficult for other teams to defend us, because we can always score quickly, and I've heard other teams say they have trouble stopping us," White said. "It really does feel like we're unstoppable once we get on a roll," Bourgois added. "If I'm blocked off from the net, I always look for Brittney to get an assist to her, and she's always looking for me behind the goal."
Gazette Preps Peak Performer of the Week, Rampart golfer Arielle Keating

Gazette Preps Peak Performer of the Week, Rampart golfer Arielle Keating

Sat, Jan 1, 2000 - 12:00 AM

If the Rampart girls' golf team is playing a tournament, odds are Arielle Keating's name is near the top of the leaderboard. The junior is off to a scorching start this season, and is quickly showing she's one of the best golfers in the city and state. Keating shot a 3-under 69 to win the Liberty Lancer Invitational at Pine Creek Golf Club on Thursday. She tied for first at the Cougar Classic three days earlier, and also has wins at the Trojan Invitational and Air Academy Kadet Invitational on her 2017 résumé. (She shot another 69 on Monday to win the Spartan Invitational.) Related: Keating performance, Rampart depth lead Rams to girls' golf tournament title "This season I've dedicated a lot more time to golf," Keating said. "Two years ago, I was splitting time between golf and soccer, and last year I was doing golf and club volleyball. I have spent so much more time on the golf course and practiced as much as I can. It's definitely come through recently." What made Keating's 69 at Pine Creek more impressive was that she was playing in temperatures in the 40s, with wind of more than 20 mph. "I feel a lot more comfortable and confident in my swing," she said. "Growing up in Colorado, you get used to the weather and learn to adjust. You need to have enough confidence in your swing that you can hit the ball when there's a 20 mile-per-hour wind." Keating won't have to worry about those weather conditions when she attends college. She recently verbally committed to play at Florida Atlantic. Rampart golfer Arielle Keating was the Peak Performer this week. Monday, April 24, 2017 . Photo by Jerilee Bennett, The Gazette   Keating's coach at Rampart knows her better than anyone - he's also her father. Brad Keating beams with pride when talking about the improvement his daughter has made in the past year since focusing solely on golf. "She's playing at a collegiate level right now, and is probably 8-10 strokes better than she was last year at this time," Brad said. "We were on the first hole at Pine Creek, and it's 200-some yards long and it's cold and the wind is blowing. All the other players are laying up, and Arielle takes out a 4-wood and hits it right next to the green." Arielle says her long game is solid, but her putting is what needs the most work. She laughed as she compared herself to movie character Happy Gilmore. "On the last hole of the Liberty tournament I three-putted after getting on the green in a few shots," she said. "I'm working on my putting; I could've shot a 65 instead of a 69 if I putted better." Still, Keating is one of the top 5A players in the state. Just like her golf game, Rampart's team has seen dramatic improvement in the past year. The Rams won the Lancer Invite by 13 strokes. "The Rampart administration has really made a strong effort to help our team be the best it can be - and we have a great team," Brad said. "That has made it more fun for Arielle, and for everyone on the team." Arielle was 19th at state as a freshman and tied for 13th last year. Now, she's eyeing a big leap. "Winning state has been something that's been in the back of my mind since the season started," she said. "I want to perform well at state, and I think I'll be able to improve from the past two years."
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."