50 student athletes to watch, Part 3

Posted 7/20/09

It’s not hard to see where the high talent is going to come from for the coming high school sports seasons. Below is Colorado Community …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Don't have an ID?

Print subscribers

If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.


Click here to see your options for becoming a subscriber.

If you made a voluntary contribution in 2022-2023 of $50 or more, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one at no additional charge. VIP Digital Access includes access to all websites and online content.

Our print publications are advertiser supported. For those wishing to access our content online, we have implemented a small charge so we may continue to provide our valued readers and community with unique, high quality local content. Thank you for supporting your local newspaper.

50 student athletes to watch, Part 3


It’s not hard to see where the high talent is going to come from for the coming high school sports seasons.

Below is Colorado Community Newspapers’ account of the top 50 student athletes to keep an eye on in the 2009-10 academic sports seasons, as determined by CCN’s sports staff. The list will be reported in a five-part series, with 10 students described in each installment. The final roster of 50 athletes is listed in no particular order.

Student athletes to qualify for the recognition are expected to attend one of the high schools located in CCN’s sports coverage areas. School athletics administration, coaches and readers also contributed to the 50 selections by making their own suggestions over a four-week period.

The following is the third set of 10 student athletes:

Jordan Serena, Chaparral

Coming into his junior year at Chaparral High School, Jordan Serena should be seen in several Wolverine arenas through the preps sports seasons; football, basketball and baseball. Last year, Serena was quarterback Jerry Slotta’s No. 2 go-to receiver in a successful Wolverines system, which took them to the Class 5A state championship quarterfinals. Serena finished the season with 466 receiving yards, averaging almost 17 yards per catch. His 2008 performance earned him a first-team All-Conference honors as a wide receiver.

Serena has varsity football letters for both his freshman and sophomore seasons. He feels his speed and agility are his strengths as a receiver.

“I know I’m not the tallest guy, but if you throw the ball somewhere, I can usually get there,” Serena said.

On the diamond, which has occupied much of Serena’s summer this year, the Wolverine had a .472 batting average in his last high school season. He is a two-year varsity baseball player as well and garnered himself second-team All-Conference both his freshman and sophomore seasons at infield. For the most part, preps baseball fans can see Serena at the shortstop position.

“At shortstop, you have to be in pretty good position to throw a guy out, and I think I do that pretty well,” Serena said.

Serena is presently involved in a 50-game summer schedule playing in a college league with graduated seniors. With the Chaparral summer team, he’s seen action this summer in Omaha and visited a four-day camp at the University of Southern California. Although it’s too early to say what kind of collegiate notice this junior could be getting, he did recent receive an e-mail from a University of Iowa coach about attending camp with them in August before his next year of high school sports.

Derek Munsey, ThunderRidge

Derek Munsey has had his hand in several sports programs at ThunderRidge High School, including football, wrestling and lacrosse. Grizzlies football fans could see Munsey as the team’s starting fullback during their second year in the Class 5A arena, following up on an undefeated Southern League season last year. Munsey has been in varsity action, even if its been special teams or different packages, since his sophomore year.

“He’s a very physical football player,” Grizzlies coach Joe Johnson said. “He’s a tough inside runner, a good blocker and a good leader. He’s the kind of kid you want on a high school football team for sure.”

Johnson said Munsey’s physical toughness, ability as a blocker and the willingness to do the things the T-Ridge coaching staff asks of him in tough situations.

“He finds a way to get it done,” the coach said. “He is quite strong, but the physical and mental toughness are the things that can’t be undervalued in my opinion.”

As a wrestler, Munsey finished a solid junior season in February, having placed sixth in the 160-pound bracket of the Class 5A state high school championships. After losing to eventual champion Austin Gabel of Ponderosa in the first round of his state tournament, Munsey went on an impressive run in the consolation fight to finish the season with a 35-10 record. Should Munsey stay at 160, he could finish among the state’s top three or better, given 11 state-qualifying seniors graduated from the bracket last season.

Elizabeth (Lizzy) Herzl, Heritage

Coach Tony Hurt has always put quality high school soccer teams on the field at Heritage. One of the bright spots of next year’s girls soccer roster could be Elizabeth Herzl. An incoming 6-foot-1 inch senior, “Lizzy” Herzl has been a key part of Eagle varsity soccer and is expected to rise as one of the 2010 team’s leaders in the back. As a defender, she has earned first-team All-Continental League honors. In addition, outside the high school season where she’s been varsity since her sophomore season, Herzl has been a part of the state championship Storm Academy Copa club team for the past three years and is presently being recruited to play the sport at the collegiate level.

“Defense is my calling you could say,” Herzl said. “My speed and my height make me strong in the back. Six feet is not easy to get by, I guess.”

Like many Eagles who played varsity two seasons ago, Herzl’s desire to return to the Class 5A state championship finals is a driving reason for watching her over her senior year.

“Making it to the finals was huge, especially since I was just a sophomore,” the senior said. “And losing, that just makes you want it that much more. … The whole team wants to get back there again.”

Outside of soccer, Herzl has contributed to the Eagles track team for the past three seasons. Last May, during the Class 5A state championship meet, Herzl ran a 2 minute, 26 second time in her leg of the girls 3,200-meter relay. Herzl said the endurance required for both sports have gone hand-in-hand through the high school spring season.

“You cant let people pass you. That mentally goes for both,” Herzl said. “I think when I do one track practice a week, that practice really helps a lot with my speed in soccer.”

Kyle Milberg, Rock Canyon

A senior at Rock Canyon High School this coming fall, Kyle Milberg finally turned a corner in boys swimming when he took the Class 5A state championship title in the 100-yard backstroke as a member of the Highlands Ranch co-op swim and dive team. Milberg was also the state runner-up last season in the 200 individual medley. In both events, he booked All-American times, but that was no surprise for him. The swimmer made All-American times in both events as a sophomore as well. Milberg said his training was key to the success of his junior season.

“I think just cause I got bigger and older, it helped me,” he said. “Just a little extra size and training from my club team. … It’s definitely about the discipline. You have to train a lot and be committed to the sport. It’s about all the training that goes into it to be successful.”

Milberg, who has been swimming since the age of 8, has grown up in a swimming family. He is the son of Rock Canyon girls swim coach Ruthie Milberg, who helped the Jaguars girls to a state championship last year, and brother to multiple state champion Kirsten Milberg. Next season, Milberg expects to go for a second consecutive state title in the 100-back, but he also may go for the gold in the 100 butterfly.

Already, the senior has been contacted by several Division I colleges to swim after graduation, including University of Denver, Duke, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and Harvard. Milberg said he aspires to be a NCAA national league swimmer.

Kyla Wilkinson, Ponderosa

Kyla Wilkinson saw varsity action with Ponderosa High School softball her freshman year, but she’s been a starter for the Mustangs since her sophomore season. An incoming senior this fall, Wilkinson should assume the team’s leadership role this season with senior catcher Kelly Flynn. Last year Wilkinson earned first-team All-Conference honors as a junior and a second-team nod as a sophomore.

At bat, Wilkinson has consistently been among the team’s top three hitters. Last high school season, Wilkinson hit .320 by the end of the year. Her RBIs were down from the year before, but it wasn’t like she took a dip in performance, said coach Richard Tabola. Her consistency is her greatest strength.

“She’s been in that mid-to-lower .300 range ever since I’ve coached her,” Tabola said. “She doesn’t get real rattled. … She’s good enough to play D-2 or D-3 in college, but I’m not sure that’s her aspiration.

Also, Wilkinson is known for having a solid defensive glove, making it easy for Tabola to play her at first base. As far as being a leader, Ponderosa has also had solid senior leadership on the team, but being Wilkinson’s senior year, Tabola expects her and Flynn to step up.

“They are the two main seniors coming back and a couple other girls who may not be starters,” the coach said. “This is something she needs to do. The team needs it. It’s her time.”

Sean Joyce, Mountain Vista

An incoming senior at Mountain Vista High School, Sean Joyce is one notable athlete to keep an eye on in the coming season in both lacrosse and hockey, even though he aspires to play lacrosse at the collegiate level. Joyce has played with the Golden Eagles’ varsity team since his sophomore year and earned All-Conference honors as a junior.

In some circles, Joyce has been consistently thought of as one of the top three defensemen on the Vista squad since his sophomore season and possible one of the best in the state, helping the Golden Eagles to its first Douglas County League championship last season. He was also named the team’s defensive MVP. The senior plans to hit four — three out of state — lacrosse recruiting camps this summer with the Mile-Hi All-Star lacrosse team and has already been contacted by several post-secondary schools.

On the ice, Joyce also serves as a defenseman. He is a three-year letterman for Vista’s ice hockey team. This year, he was named team captain and MVP of his CAHA Midget Minor A team which won a state championship. He’s been playing hockey for 13 years with Littleton Hockey Association and Mountain Vista respectively.

Chris Allen, Valor Christian

Chris Allen has only been playing lacrosse for two years. He hasn’t been developed from the area’s youth leagues; however, his rapid growth has already raised the eyebrows of some Division I collegiate coaches. An incoming senior at Valor Christian High School, Allen started playing his sophomore year. Last season, as a junior and the Eagles’ first varsity campaign, he earned first-team All-Conference honors, as well as nods from Team Colorado 2009, the Mile-Hi All-Stars 2009, and he made the Adidas All-Star Regional Denver Team for both 2008 and this year.

David Neely, who used to be the head coach for Heritage High School’s lacrosse program, said Allen’s jaw-dropping improvement only underscores his potential to play D-I after graduation. Allen’s determination to get better is unrivaled. In fact, after Valor took a loss against Heritage, the team got back to the school around 10 p.m., where Allen stayed until midnight practicing on Valor’s turf field without the lights on.

“He has, more so than anything, fallen in love with the sport,” Neely said. “He’s an extremely gifted athlete agility-wise and strength-wise, but the bottom line is he just puts in the work.”

Offering a leadership role for the team as well, Allen can be seen as a defender but playing some long-stick middie as well.

Andrew Loudenback, Chaparral

It’s difficult to say Andrew Loudenback is one of 50 kids to watch in the next high school football season without mentioning Christian Gann, who backed up starter Jerry Slotta last season, in the same breath. Presently, the two are competing for Chaparral High School’s starting quarterback position. The only reason Loudenback could be interesting to watch, if he gets to throw in the Wolverines’ pocket, is he has two years (freshmen and sophomore) of being a starting quarterback at Ponderosa already under his belt. Having transferred to the Mustangs cross-town rival program, Chaparral may prove to have a better system to match the incoming junior’s strengths.

As a pocket passer, Loudenback has average statistics but he is maturing and should flourish under the new system, given the chance. Among a handful of other key players Chaparral football should have this fall whom have grown up in the Parker Hawks organization, Loudenback would be one of them.

Wolverines junior receiver Jordan Serena said he has worked with both quarterbacks already and said both are equally talented and strong in the pocket.

“Working with both all summer, from my point, they’re both working very hard,” Serena said. “I don’t see much of a difference between them, so they are really competing for that spot. Either of them would be a great quarterback for us. It’ll be interesting to see.”

Dustin Berg, Douglas County

An incoming junior, Dustin Berg and his family have always made a conscious choice to have him play soccer at Douglas County High School, even though his club soccer friends are all attending Mountain Vista. Berg’s ability has been spotlighted in an instructional skills video “Footibility,” produced by former Colorado Rapids player Chris Martinez. The video went on to be the top selling soccer skills video in America two years running.

Mostly a forward for the Huskies and on his club team, Berg feels his strengths are his quickness and his ball handling ability. The junior can finish pretty well too. Part of Berg’s strength during the high school season comes from playing national talent at the club level.

“Those players give me the chance to do a lot of good stuff against high school players,” Berg said.

Huskies coach Chad Allen said Berg’s position for his junior year isn’t yet determined. Although he’s gotten a little bigger over the years, Berg’s size has forced him to work harder than most high school age players. It’s the work that makes him unique, Allen said.

“What makes him unique is, he never takes a break,” Allen said. “He never relaxes. He’s probably one of the most high-profile players we’ve had at this school. … By the time Dustin is a senior, he’ll be a first-team all-state player. We have some pieces in place, but he’s the main piece.”

Grant Arthurs, Highlands Ranch

Grant Arthurs was instrumental on the Highlands Ranch High School lacrosse team last year as a sophomore; however, he’s made heavy contributions to Falcons football. An incoming junior, Arthurs led the Falcons lacrosse team in goals last season and finished among the top 20 scorers in the state. He was also among the top 10 in the state on retrieving ground balls. Last year, he was honored with first-team All-Conference accolades as a midfielder after receiving an honorable mention nod his freshman season. No other Falcons player received first- or second-team All-Conference honors last year.

On the Falcons’ gridiron, Arthurs serves as an inside linebacker and was only one of three sophomores at Highlands Ranch to letter in football last season. This summer, he is the defensive signal caller on the varsity football squad.

Part of Grant Arthurs’ success in lacrosse could be due to his twin brother Eric Arthurs, the starting goaltender for the Falcons, who was second in the state in saves and 16th in save percentage last season.

“It’s one versus the other, and that’s what you need in order to get better.” Falcons lacrosse coach Matt Thomas said.

50 student athletes to watch - Part 3

Jordan Serena, Chaparral

Derek Munsey, ThunderRidge

Elizabeth (Lizzy) Herzl, Heritage

Kyle Milberg, Rock Canyon

Kyla Wilkinson, Ponderosa

Sean Joyce, Mountain Vista

Chris Allen, Valor Christian

Andrew Loudenback, Chaparral

Dustin Berg, Douglas County

Grant Arthurs, Highlands Ranch


Our Papers

Ad blocker detected

We have noticed you are using an ad blocking plugin in your browser.

The revenue we receive from our advertisers helps make this site possible. We request you whitelist our site.