Rhonda Blanford-Green, the former Aurora Central and University of Nebraska track standout, took over as the Colorado High School Athletic Association’s ninth commissioner last July.
In her first year, Blanford-Green reached one of her goals of having the CHSAA commissioner become more visible so athletes, coaches, fans, parents and school administrators can recognize her.
And, as she said, she has put a face to a name.
Blanford-Green was seen at meetings and gatherings of cooperate sponsors, legislators and educational institutions. At the recent CHSAA baseball tournament, Blanford-Green stopped to talk and visit with fans in the crowd.
She worked for the CHSAA for 16 years, including time as an associate commissioner. She was the executive director of the Nebraska Schools Activities Association for three years and spent two years as an assistant executive director of the Louisiana High School Association before taking over at the CHSAA.
When she took over last July she emphasized that she was not a change agent, but a few of the proposals that the CHSAA Executive Council approved last April drew a smile on Blanford-Green’s face.
A change that Blanford-Green mentioned that was needed was one that allows Colorado athletes to represent their schools in national events.
Colorado teams and individuals are now allowed to represent their schools out of season in national competitions if they get the permission of the school principal and CHSAA office. Before, these teams and individuals took part nationally as members of a club.
Blanford-Green made it to all but one of the state championships and the one she missed was because of a conflict with another CHSAA state event.
So this is a good spot to review the state titles won by local teams during the 2017-18 season.
Mountain Vista won the 5A boys baseball title to go along with boys and girls cross country crowns captured last fall. Valor Christian won its third consecutive 4A state baseball title and Eagles girls won the 4A state track championship.
After taking home piggyback runner-up 5A football trophies, Pomona won the top prize last fall and the Panthers girls won the gymnastics title.
Legend’s softball team won the school’s first sanctioned state title and Castle View took advantage of good fortune in the final pool play match and won two five-set matches to secure the 5A girls volleyball championship.
Cherry Creek won both the 5A girls tennis and golf championships this spring and Jefferson Academy won a shootout to secure the girls 3A state soccer hardware.
And not to forget the spirit championships, Valor won the 4A cheer event while Wheat Ridge was declared the 4A poms champs. ThunderRidge was the winner of the 5A poms title. Castle View took the 4A/5A co-ed crown while Ponderosa was the Jazz winner.
Softball Player of the Year
Valor Christian senior Ali Kilponen has been named Colorado’s Gatorade Softball Player of the Year.
The four-year Eagles standout who has signed to pitch for Louisiana State went 22-1 in her senior year with an 0.42 earned run average and 273 strikeouts in 134 innings pitched with just 12 walks. And, she hit .466 with six homers.
In her career, Valor won three Class 4A state championships and she compiled an 87-4 record with a 0.55 ERA and 998 strikeouts in 537.3 innings pitched.
On the track
At the Great Southwest track meet in Albuquerque which was held May 31-June 2, two local seniors were dominating.
Emily Sloan, a Rock Canyon graduate, won the 100- and 300-meter hurdles in times of 13.54 and 41.10 respectively. Lutheran’s Maya Evans captured the long jump with a 20-10.75 leap.
Two Mountain Vista distance runners didn’t win but had impressive times at the Festival of Miles in St. Louis on June 2.
Carter Dillon was fourth in the mile run with a time of 4:10.34, which converts to a 4.08 in the 1,600 meters. Caden Foster was sixth in the race with a 4:11.24 with a conversion of 4:09 to 1,600.
The all-time Colorado 1,600 meter record is 4:10.98.
Take me out to the ball game
There were several players with ties to local schools that were selected during the three days of the Major League baseball draft.
Former D’Evelyn athlete Grant Witherspoon, a centerfielder for Tulane, was tabbed in the fourth round by Tampa Bay and former Holy Family outfielder Devlin Granberg of Dallas Baptist College was picked by the Boston Red Sox in the sixth round.
Cherry Creek grad Lane Milligan, an outfielder for Oklahoma City University, was a 17th-round choice of the Boston Red Sox and Standley Lake third baseman Garrett Martin was picked by the Baltimore Orioles in the 22nd round. Martin graduated in May and is committed to play at McClennan Junior College.
Former Legend and Southern Illinois pitcher Michael Baird was a 23rd-round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals, and the Colorado Rockies selected Centennial resident and Colorado Mesa left-handed pitcher Reagan Todd in the 32nd round.
Riley Egloff, who pitched for Heritage this spring and is a Yavapai Junior College commit, was tabbed in the 36th round by the Miami Marlins, and the Rockies in the same round selected Rock Canyon shortstop Cayden Zimmerman, who intends to attend the Air Force Academy.
Valor Christian senior-to-be Luke McCaffrey, who has been a quarterback, receiver, running back, defensive back and kick returner for the past three years, has committed to play football at Nebraska.
He will be the fourth of the McCaffrey brothers to play major college football. Max played at Duke and Christian was a standout at Stanford. Max is currently with the NFL San Francisco 49ers and Christian plays for Carolina.
Dylan McCaffrey is a redshirt freshman quarterback at Michigan.
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