South metro sports: A Year in Review

Posted 12/21/11

Oh, 2011. How did south metro love thee? Let it recount the ways. No surprise, prep sports teams and athletes from area schools have plenty to look …

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South metro sports: A Year in Review


Oh, 2011. How did south metro love thee? Let it recount the ways.

No surprise, prep sports teams and athletes from area schools have plenty to look back on from the calendar year of 2011. There also were plenty of highlights in local sports outside the realm of preps.

Between the winter post-season, the spring season, summer events and an exciting fall, almost every month of 2011 leading up to New Year’s Eve was memorable for sports fans in the area.


At the Pepsi Center last February, Castle View High School’s Chris Frisbie won his school’s first individual wrestling state championship at 215 pounds. He was one of two Sabercats state finalists, the other being Gus Marker, who took silver at 189. Frisbie, a junior last season, brought home the gold medal after an exciting 6-5 decision over Coronado senior Jared Rieck.

“I couldn’t believe I actually won,” he said. “This never happens. I feel great now. There’s no better feeling in the world.”


The high school version of March madness included the Continental League once again with three girls hoops teams in the Final Four of the Class 5A state championship playoffs. However, it was Highlands Ranch that was able to rise to the top for a seventh state championship for the program. The Falcons won the championship over Regis in the finals.

Having met Regis earlier in the season during Continental action, Ranch post a 20-point win over the Raiders. Earlier in the finals game, Regis came ready to play and stayed close to the Falcons in the score. However, Ranch’s reasons for getting back to Boulder came out once again and the Falcons consistently pulled away from the Raiders in the second half.

Ranch junior Michaela Neuhaus said the difference between the last meeting with Regis and the finals game was simply being the state championship showdown.

“Both teams obviously wanted it really well. We had to come out and work a lot harder this time,” said Neuhaus, who finished with 16 points, including four buckets from outside the perimeter.

This playoff run for the Ranch was reminiscent of the Falcons’ 2008 state championship, when they beat ThunderRidge in the semifinals, like they did again this season, and defeated Regis for the championship as well.


For the spring post-season, area teams were busy creating highlights. One such highlight was Mountain Vista girls soccer winning the second Class 5A state championship in its history. The championship finals weren’t easy for the Golden Eagles at first, but eventually, as they had with every opponent through the season, they figured out which pegs go into which holes to defeat Dakota Ridge in the last game of the year.

Just over 15 minutes past the half, Vista’s Gabby Miranda, a sophomore midfielder, drilled a long ball from nearly 35-yards out into the corner of Ridge’s goal to tie the game at 1.

“I was in shock,” Miranda said. “We had been struggling all game (until then). ... I’ve never worked so hard in my life.”

With almost five minutes remaining, senior Bri Pugh, who’d failed to find the back of the net in the first half, finally tucked one in the left corner of the goal, assisted by Tailor Smith. Less than a minute later, Kortney Hix capitalized on a bounce that went over the head of Dakota Ridge goalkeeper Haley Millhollan for the nail-in-the-coffin goal. Jenna Owens was credited with an assist.

“We couldn’t do our usual through balls,” Pugh said. “Once we got them figured out, we got it like we have all season pretty much.”

In the Class 4A championship finals, Valor Christian girls soccer was able to improve its season finish as the runner-up the two seasons previous for the school’s first soccer championship over two-time defending champ Wheat Ridge 1-0.

“We’ve always tried to bring our A-game since that championship game in 2009,” then-junior forward Meg Gegen said. “The commitment and attitude of all the players has been a huge difference [from the 2009 team]. We play as a team and are more unified. Our chemistry is way better than last time.”

In the 5A baseball state playoffs, Highlands Ranch made an exciting run to the state semifinals. Regis hit two RBI home runs in the bottom of the fourth inning during the Falcons’ semifinals game of the state series against the Raiders. Ranch pitcher Ryan Burr scorched the mound until having to sit in the fifth inning. Ranch had a five-run showing in the top of the second, but the Raiders fought back to win 12-9 to send the Falcons home for the season.

In that semifinals game, Burr finished with seven strikeouts in four innings before Tony Audino was brought in as relief.

At the state track and field championships, Arapahoe’s Connor Winter, who has since graduated, repeated his junior year winning three gold medals in the distance track events with first-place finishes in the same events as a senior. The revisited trifecta from Winter helped the Warriors boys team to a second-place finish among 5A competitors.

Winter took the boys 800-meter run’s gold medal with a time of 1 minute, 53.23 seconds. He also added another 1,600-meter run title with 4:19.74. And he won the 3,200 with 9:15.51 on the clock. But Winter wasn’t the only Warrior to bring home hardware. Senior Taryn Phipps took the silver medal in the girls 400-meter dash with a time of 56.60. She was fifth in the 800 run, helping the Warriors girls to a second-place finish as well.

On the links, Valor Christian girls golfer Lindsey McGetrick finished her third year of Class 4A state championship qualification with the individual title. This time at state, the Eagle had the experience and confidence to bring in some lower scores, Eagles coach SaraAnne McGetrick said.

“Lindsay has always had a fundamentally sound swing, but this year, her short game really improved and helped her shoot some lower scores. She worked very hard during the season,” coach McGetrick said.

Lindsey McGetrick won the championship after shooting a 5-under-par 137. She was the only 4A golfer to shoot under par at state.


The downtown streets of Castle Rock were shut down for a series of fast-flying cycling races. June 4 marked the newest addition to the annual Elephant Rock cycling festival, the 2011 Subaru E-Rock Twilight Criterium, a series of amateur and professional races, which lasted between 40 and 75 minutes, from morning to evening.

For the races, almost one mile of downtown roadway was closed off, as well as nearby streets to access the course, to the public. With public safety, American Cycling Association officials, volunteers and hundreds of cycling sprinters on hand, the first year of the criterium was only missing spectators. Only a handful of on-lookers were present for the start of the races, which grew in numbers later in the day.

“The toughest thing was getting the course agreed upon,” said Dan Mieszala, a volunteer with Colorado Bike Law who served as race director. “We wanted to have the least amount of impact to surrounding businesses and still challenge the riders. ... There is still one-block access to all downtown business, and the riders seem to like the course.”


A collection of Mountain Vista runners in the 5A cross country state championship race this year equaled a second-place finish for the Golden Eagles team. Leading Vista was senior Stephen Chipman, who took 11th overall with a time of 16 minutes, 30.79 seconds. Just behind him was sophomore Andrew Walton in 12th place. Junior Eric Steiner was 26th overall, and senior Mark Currie was next in at 28th. The team came in at 107 points, 12 points behind Fort Collins, which won the boys title once again.

Mountain Vista’s girls team had almost the same success in their 5A race, coming in third. Leading the Golden Eagles was junior Karlee Schwartzkopf with a time of 19:30.50 to place 13th overall.

After two seasons of third place, Hayden Sabatka, a junior at Highlands Ranch High School, had enough of his 5A state tennis championship finishes at No. 1 singles. This year, he shoved his way into the state finals against Grand Junction’s Spencer Weinberg, also a junior, and Sabatka won his first state title in two sets. Sabatka hadn’t dropped a set in the entire tournament.

“I just tried to play my game and be real aggressive with my forehand and come to the net whenever I could,” Sabatka said. “I lost that first game, but from there I was just very fluent with my game.”

Both Rock Canyon and Ponderosa’s softball teams had exciting moments at the 5A state championship tournament this year. Rock Canyon finished on the better end of a 10-inning marathon win over Fountain-Fort Carson 4-1 in the first round. This year, the Jags had something to prove, despite the runner-up finish the season before.

“Everyone thought we made it last year because of our pitcher [White],” junior Alli McClosky said. “There were eight others on that team, so we felt we owed it to ourselves to make it back to state.”

McClosky’s game-winning homer in the 10th inning advanced the Jags to the next round of the tournament, where Canyon finished among the top four teams.

Ponderosa also found itself on the better end of an extra-inning donnybrook in the first round. After nine innings, the Mustangs defeated Rocky Mountain 1-0 when the Pondo’s Koo Maes was brought across the plate by a single from April Hansen, despite Rocky Mountain being one out away from heading back to the plate.

In the bottom of the inning, the Lobos loaded the bases with no outs, but senior pitcher Shanna Christian held fast on the mound like she did all nine innings. Christian pitched six innings against Loveland and had nine strikeouts and four earned runs.

In boys golf, Valor Christian's Wyndam Clark was the Class 4A state individual champion. At the state tourney at Pelican Lakes Golf Club in Windsor, he helped the Eagles to a runner-up finish.

Clark shot a 16-under-par 128. He recorded six birdies in the first round and an eagle. In the second round, he had six birdies and an eagle once again. He shot par on everything else between the two days of the tournament.


November this year could possibly rival May as one of the most exciting months for high school sports in the area. Heritage High School boys soccer entered the 5A state championship playoffs as the No. 24 seed but out-lived the seeding process to make an appearance in the finals. Although the Eagles finished as the state’s runner-up, they managed to take down No. 1 seed and defending title holder Cherry Creek 2-1 after 90 seconds of overtime in the championship quarterfinals.

A minute and a half into overtime, the game winning goal came for the Eagles from John Bruno. Composure is what Buseck feels won that crucial quarterfinals game.

“We have played a lot of tough teams, and our record shows we lost to a lot of those,” Heritage coach Adam Buseck said. “Our guys were composed because of it. They made clean passes and stayed calm. Being composed and calm was a big part of it.

“The guys have been good all year, and we expected to be to this point all year. We’ve had some doubts at times but we have believed we were going to get there.”

Chaparral volleyball set a new benchmark for its program this season with a 31-0 overall record, including its second consecutive 5A state championship. At the state tournament, the Wolverines, albeit they had some close ones, didn’t lose a single match.

This second championship season not only marked the Wolverines’ first ever undefeated season, it also marked the first undefeated team for coach T.R. Ellis in her 33 years of coaching volleyball, 15 of which have been with the Wolverines. Ellis said this second championship team operated like a close-knit family, the basis of the program’s theme this season, but also as an extension of last year’s title-winning team.

“This team just matched that feeling,” the coach said. “You never get used to it. It’s such a magical fun moment. ... These players make this team, and I’ve been blessed with some amazing talented players who have built it up together.”

Also in Parker, Lutheran High School followed up its 2010 2A volleyball state-qualifying season with the schools first championship title ever. The team earned the first state title in school history, having won a 3-0 battle over Akron, the No. 2 seed, in the finals.

Outside the CHSAA system, Castle Rock girls rugby also finished its season as the state runner up after a mostly-dominating schedule. In the state’s Division I finals, Castle Rock faced Summit but lost the championship 27-0.

“Our team was prepared and more pumped up than I have ever seen them,” All-State selection Hailey Howell said. “Of course it is always a great game when we play Summit, and the outcome wasn’t what we wanted. You want the No. 1 spot and that is what pushes you.”


Valor Christian football did once again what its been built for, win a state championship. The Eagles won their third consecutive state title and second in Class 4A the first weekend of December after a 66-10 trouncing of Pine Creek.

Valor walked away from Sports Authority Field at Mile High with a 24-game win streak, stretching back to its 2010 campaign, and its South Metro League and state championships.

“We accomplished everything we set out to do,” Valor senior wide receiver Stephen Miller said. “We have to credit our coaches. The are the best out there. It’s been a great season.”


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