Prep notebook: Former Air Academy, Lewis-Palmer standouts recognized at Sportswomen of Colorado banquet

Photo - From left to right: Former Lewis-Palmer standout Alexa Smith,  former Kadet Abby Farrell and Air Academy’s MeiLan Haberl. (Gazette photo files)
From left to right: Former Lewis-Palmer standout Alexa Smith, former Kadet Abby Farrell and Air Academy’s MeiLan Haberl. (Gazette photo files)

Women from around the state were honored at the Sportswomen of Colorado banquet on Sunday night in Denver.

A few notable winners from Colorado Springs: Air Academy’s MeiLan Haberl, former Lewis-Palmer standout Alexa Smith and former Kadet Abby Farrell.

Haberl was awarded with the Sportswoman of the Year in hockey while Smith won in volleyball. Farrell won her second award from the organization as the Sportswoman Paralympic Athlete of the Year.

This was the 44th running of the awards banquet, one that has featured such winners as Olympian Missy Franklin and former basketball standout and trailblazing NBA assistant coach Becky Hammon. Award recipients were nominated by a school, coach, parent, or peer, and the winners were selected by a media panel, per the organization’s site.

“It’s definitely really nice to be recognized,” Haberl said.

Haberl is a defenseman on her school and club hockey teams. She stepped away last high school season to play in tournaments across the country.

Smith is a former Lewis-Palmer outside hitter and won the state’s Gatorade player of the year in 2014. In college, she transferred from Purdue after a season and is now a top talent at Colorado.

Farrell, who has spina bifida, was a force on the basketball court as well as the track. Her mother is Michelle Dusserre-Farrell, the youngest member of the women’s gymnastics team that won silver in the 1984 Olympic Games. 

Abby could not make the trip to accept her award as she is preparing for nationals on the University of Illinois’ wheelchair basketball team. Her mom accepted the award on her behalf.

 “I think it’s really cool they’re recognizing someone with a disability, especially a woman with a disability,” Abby said. “I’ve been to that event two times before and it’s really cool to hear all these women speak and hear their incredible stories.”

Other winners include Air Academy’s Macey Way (air rifle shooting) and Palmer Ridge’s Carson Saabye (air pistol shooting). 

Bears promote former player to field hockey coach 

Palmer Ridge promoted field hockey assistant coach and former player Mallory Cuccio to head coach of the defending state champions on Thursday.

Cuccio played for and then assisted under longtime coach Paul Lewis, who retired after guiding the Bears to a state title in the fall. She graduated from Lewis-Palmer in 2012 and played field hockey at Liberty University.

The 24-year-old said she plans to keep Lewis’ winning tradition alive.

“It’s really cool to be able to be a part of that and to continue on the legacy,” Cuccio said. “I really want to keep pushing and get as many more state championships as we’re able to.”

Rampart girls' tennis finds a new home 

The girls’ tennis team at Rampart will play its home duals at Venezia Park this year, school athletic director Andy Parks said.

The $13 million park was opened last summer after years of stop-and-go construction. The Rams will take the courts for the first time in a dual Tuesday when they host Air Academy.

Parks said the change of venue was an easy decision. For one, Rampart’s school courts are “30-plus years old." The Venezia Park courts, on the other hand, "are beautiful."

Gale wins two for Thunder track and field 

Discovery Canyon’s Lauren Gale won the 100 (12.45 seconds) and 200 (24.98) at the 27-team Banana Belt Classic in Pueblo on Saturday.

Gale won four golds as a sophomore but had hip surgery in January of 2017. Despite returning for the state meet last May, Gale said regaining her strength has been a long process. She even joined the swim team in the winter to improve her cardio.

“I feel a lot better in the sprints right now and feel strong in those,” Gale said. “The 400 will need some work.”

She did not run the 400 Saturday.