SIGNING DAY: Kirsten Coombes becomes first Fountain-Fort Carson rifle signee, will attend USMA West Point

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Photo - Fountain-Fort Carson's Kirsten Coombe signs her National Letter of Intent to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point as a rifle athlete. She is one of six F-FC atheltes who signed on Wednesday, April 11, 2017. (Lindsey Smith, Gazette Preps)
Fountain-Fort Carson's Kirsten Coombe signs her National Letter of Intent to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point as a rifle athlete. She is one of six F-FC atheltes who signed on Wednesday, April 11, 2017. (Lindsey Smith, Gazette Preps)

We all know the Trojans as one of the premier track & field programs in the state, producing stellar  athletes year in an year out.

But Wednesday marked a new chapter in Fountain-Fort Carson’s legacy in the world of collegiate athletics.

On the third National Signing Day of the 2017-18 school year, six Fountain-Fort Carson athletes signed their National Letters of Intent to continue their athletic careers in college - including the school’s first-ever rifle signee.

Kirsten Coombes comes from a military family, and said she has always had an innate desire to serve her country.

Wednesday she made it official, signing to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point as a member of the rifle team.

With military and ROTC ties, Fountain-Fort Carson takes pride in its rifle team, which is considered to be one of the top programs in the nation according to athletic director Jared Felice. And now the Trojan rifle program is sending its first shooter to the Division I ranks.

When Coombes tried out for the rifle team as a sophomore she was one of 60 athletes hoping to make the team. Instructor, Sgt. Maj. Rod Smith said only 10 would make the team.

“I remember being so nervous, and it was something that for some strange reason captivated me,” Coombes said. “Nothing for me has ever been easy. I really fight with myself in self-confidence, and rifle was another one of those challenges. With rifle you have to be 100 percent confident in yourself and I was terrible at first. It took a lot of hours pouring everything I could into practice. It’s more than a sport its grown my self confidence and it’s turned me into a stronger person in general.”

“There’s one thing that we look for in the sport of rifle - it’s very distinguished - and that’s commitment,” Smith said. “If all championships were won for an athlete being committed, then Kirsten would be an Olympian. And she’s told me that she will invite me when she goes to the Olympics as a guest and watch, so I’m going to hold her to that.”

In addition to Kirsten’s signing, Fountain-Fort Carson’s other athletic legacy added two more to the Division I ranks as Jason Farrell and Phil Thomas signed to run track at Northern Colorado.

“We are the defending 5A boys’ state champions, and I have no doubt we have a very strong chance to repeat, making it four of the last five years, and a lot of that is because of these young men here,” Felice said. “We are incredibly proud of what they have been able to do for our track program and sustaining a legacy that goes back to the 1960s.”

Farrell  placed third last year at the 5A state championships in the 300 hurdles. He also won a silver medal with his 4x200 relay team at state last year. Thomas placed third in the 3,200 in the 5A state meet last year, and aided the Trojans to a second-place finish in the 4x400.

“I’ve been very fortunate to work with some amazing, talented athletes, but sometimes it’s not all about talent,” F-FC track coach Ben Montoya said. “Phil has been an amazing contributor to our teams, and he has the ability to run amazing races. Jason is an amazing competitor. He is ferocious, he’s intense and he hates to lose. He sets the bar when it comes to work ethic on the track on a daily basis.”

Marcus Abila signed to play football at McPherson College, a program that competes in NAIA. Emily Howling will also compete in NAIA, signing to play softball at Calumet College of St. Josephs, and Imane Moses committed to play volleyball at Iowa Lakes Community College, competing in the NJCAA.