People, places, events dot prep sports recap

Steve Smith
Posted 1/3/23

It felt like a normal year. After COVID-caused interruptions and cancellations, 2022 felt like a much more normal year in the world of prep sports. Masks weren’t required, and crowds came to cheer …

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People, places, events dot prep sports recap


It felt like a normal year.

After COVID-caused interruptions and cancellations, 2022 felt like a much more normal year in the world of prep sports. Masks weren’t required, and crowds came to cheer on their teams.

It also meant a fuller slate of things to present on our pages during the year. Here’s a list of some of the items we talked about.

Sports people

One of the main ingredients to the sports coverage this year was high-school athletes choosing their next educational and athletic stops.

Such as Legacy High School’s Camdyn Johnson, who used a main feature of real estate to choose his college.

 “I chose to go to Nebraska Wesleyan for a few reasons. First being that the college is located right there in Lincoln, Nebraska,” Johnson said. “I have only been to the city one time, and I absolutely loved it there. The coaching staff that I met were awesome too.”

Tanner Mills of Horizon liked Dakota State in South Dakota because of its competitive atmosphere. Thornton High School’s Leonel Uribe Alarcon liked the relationship he built with his new school, Presentation College in Aberdeen, S.D.

Horizon High School’s Blake Kramer had to use most of the available tools before settling on Western Colorado University.

Riverdale Ridge girls soccer forward Ashlee Trujillo wanted a new school that offered nursing studies and some more soccer on the side. The winner? Concordia University.

Trujillo was one of the original Ravens’ girls soccer players. She was a goalie before moving into the forward position.

Legacy’s Mason Dickerson’s hit paydirt with his wish list for a school

“I wanted to go to Colorado School of Mines because they were interested in me early in recruiting,” Dickerson said. “The idea of being set for life after football was a major aspect to why I chose Mines too. Also, the staff there is very tight and has a great culture on the team.”

Riverdale Ridge’s RJ Holliday chose his college, too.

“When I visited Augustana University, they were extremely welcoming, made me feel very at home, part of their program and invested in my higher education,” Holliday said.

Westminster High School graduate Domenic Ciani went east for more football and more schooling.

“I chose Briar Cliff (in Sioux City, Iowa). When I went and visited, the program was all about making a new, smash-mouth football program with the opportunity for young players like me to get a chance at playing college ball,” Ciani said

More letter signings involved Stargate School students Alex Horne (sailing), Aiden Hartman (soccer, Centre College, Danville, Kentucky) and Bo LaPenna (football, Chadron, Nebraska, State College).

Riverdale Ridge High School’s Ty Thompson may think his 15-pound weight loss during the summer was worthwhile. He was busy finding a college and settled on the University of Northern Colorado.

A letter-of-intent day at Horizon allowed three athletes - J.J. Gines (baseball at Colby CC in Kansas). Britta Cardenas (basketball and track at Bethany College), Tabor Robison (basketball at the University of Jamestown) - to move into the world of college athletics.

State qualifiers

Holy Family’s Cate Chapman recorded a pair of top-five finishes at the state 3A girls swimming and diving championships Feb. 12 at Veterans Memorial Aquatic Center. Chapman was second in the 100-yard backstroke (58.45 seconds) and fifth in the 200-yard individual medley, where her time was 2:12.38. Olivia Zuhoski was sixth in the 500- freestyle, where her time was 5:25.21.

Three members of Riverdale Ridge’s Wrestling team placed at the state 4A tournament. AJ Hague (113 pounds) was third. Domonic Cerda (145) took fifth. Ian Ingalls was sixth at 106 pounds.

AJ Hague (113 pounds), Domonic Cerda (145 pounds) and Ian Ingalls (106 pounds) placed this year.

“I wasn’t really doing anything too different, just trying to keep my head in the right state of mind and take what I have been wanting,” Cerda said.

Riverdale Ridge’s first trip to the Sweet 16 of the state 4A boys basketball tournament did not end in a win. But it might set the stage for future endeavors for the program. The Ravens lost just three seniors - Lane Hawkins, Anthony Chavez and RJ Holliday.

“There’s a bunch of talent in the pipeline,” RRHS coach Byron Gray said. “We’ve got some eighth-graders coming in. We’re going to be solid.”

Holy Family’s girls basketball team made it to the quarterfinals of the state 4A tournament before losing to Green Mountain. Skyview High School made it to the round of 16 in the tournament before Holy Family beat the Wolverines.

Riverdale Ridge advanced to the second round of the state 4A girls basketball tournament.

Riverdale Ridge pole-vaulter Lucas Couron left the competition area an hour before the state finals at Jeffco Stadium. He returned and eventually won the state title.

Couron’s top height was a season-best 15 feet 9 inches, beating his old standard by 2 inches. He tried three times to set a new state meet record at 16 feet 1/2 inch but came up short.

Holy Family’s Grayson Arnold wrapped up his prep high-school career in fine fashion. He took second place in both the 200-meter dash and the 100-meter dash at Jeffco Stadium. Fellow Tiger Skylar Hawk won two state titles, including the 200-meters where she fell across the finish line.

It was quite the journey for Legacy High School freshman pole vaulter Victoria Spitzley before she qualified for this spring’s state track-and-field meet.

The latest trophy for her case is the one for third place that she earned in the pole vault May 19 at Jefferson County Stadium.

Legacy High School’s 4-by-800-meter relay team started its race near the back of the pack at the state 5A track meet. But the foursome of Gabrielle Shepston, Mia Meraz, Addison Dolan and Kendall Aragon worked its way through the pack. The four runners crossed the finish line of the Class 5A finals in sixth place with a time of 9:35.83.

All four girls were ecstatic after the race as they saw their time through the season dip.

 ”We have become such a tight-knit team, and we give our all,” said Meraz, who ran the race just a few hours after finishing in 13th place in the class 5A 3,200-meter finals.

Riverdale Ridge’s Aubree Davis rode the state tournament roller coaster in the opening game against Pueblo County.

She was the starting pitcher in the Ravens’ opener against Pueblo County. Davis didn’t make it out of the first inning. PCHS also had a 5-0 lead when RRHS changed pitchers.

Fast-forward a couple of hours and six innings. Davis’ walk-off home run gave RRHS an 8-6 win and sent the Ravens into the quarterfinals.

“I was feeling a little excitement,” she said. “That was the pivotal moment in the game. I’m glad it happened. I  don’t know what kind of a pitch it was. But I know I hit it far.”

Then there’s the story of Riverdale Ridge’s Bradley Weinmaster. When he finished his final round at the state 4A golf tournament at Pelican Lakes in early October, he thought he lost.

One of his playing partners miscounted the scores. That put Weinmaster into a four-man playoff, which he eventually won on the first hole.

“I was in tears walking off the hole,” Weinmaster said. “Zane (Zane Aiken of Ponderosa) told me his scores were wrong. I was in second, and I thought `next year.’ I was like `Oh my God. I have a chance.’ God works ways.”

In state 3A golf news, Holy Family’s Rudiger Heitz finished fourth at Pinehurst Country Club,

Heitz, a junior, finished with a 71-74 - 145, five shots in back of Liberty commons’ Ryan Woodley.

Legacy High School’s soccer team earned the top seed in this year’s class 5A state tournament. After a first-round win, Legacy ran up against Ralston Valley goalkeeper Evan Bierman in the quarterfinals.

With the Mustangs (13-5 record) clinging to a 1-0 lead in the final minutes, the junior goalie made a series of four saves from point-blank range to complete the shutout victory in Ralston Valley’s first-ever trip to the state quarterfinals.

Ralston Valley lost in the state semifinals.

The Lightning football team qualified for the state 5A football playoffs this fall. LHS rolled past Arvada West 41-0 in the opening round.

At the time, the Lightning extended its winning streak to a school-record nine games, and new coach Jay Madden gave all the credit to his team.

“We have a very special group,” Madden said. “They are the reason we are winning. They are working hard and playing as one. It is fun to watch.”

Pine Creek ended the Lightning’s season the following week.

Stargate School’s Allison Pippert, fresh off a league cross country championship, took third at this year’s state 3A meet in Colorado Springs. Her time was 18:16.8. She finished second at state last year (18:47.6) on the same course as this year’s meet.

Moving on up

We kept track of people who were on the move this year. One of those was CJ Hannah, the new football coach at Westminster High School. He came to the Wolves from Denver North High School.

Another “mover” was former Skyview High School wrestler Jaslynn Gallegos, one of the first female wrestlers in the state to stand on the awards podium at the state meet.

She went 14-3 during the just-completed season at Presbyterian College in Clinton, South Carolina, including a championship in the National Collegiate Women’s Wrestling Championship Southeast Regional tournament.

But she won’t be back to defend her title next season. After a three-year stay at Presbyterian, she entered the NCAA transfer portal and wound up at North Central College in Iowa.

This spring’s all-state games in Pueblo gave Mountain Range’s Kyle Lewis one last chance to compete as a high-schooler, and it gave him a chance to sample college life at the same time.

He and the rest of the wrestling contingent showed up June 9 for two practices. The dual meet was the next morning.

Northglenn High School’s Sabina Czauz, the first competitive high-school girls tennis player to play in a wheelchair, competed at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York. She lost in the quarterfinal round.

CHSAA news

The Colorado High School Activities Association’s board of directors chose its new leader March 7.

He is Mike Krueger, who will become the association’s 10th commissioner. He replaces Rhonda Blanford-Green, who stepped down at the end of this school year.

Blanford Green took in her last Colorado High School Activities Association Legislative Council meeting April 21.

She discussed the association’s budget, and she thanked the council for the privilege of serving as CHSAA’s commissioner.

“We’ve been through a lot together the past 14 months,” she said.

Her husband passed away, as did former associate commissioner Tom Robinson.

“There were a lot of times when I had to be Rhonda and be the commissioner,” she said. “I had to have a safe place to be Rhonda.”

Robinson died this spring at the age of 74. The former associate commissioner of the Colorado High School Activities Association Bert Borgmann said a lot of things came to mind.

The boys tennis postseason had an historic new look starting this fall.

The change involves the state team championship, a dual-style tournament in mid-October, according to The individual championships won’t change. They will take place the second week in October.

High-school officials’ fees are among the lowest among nearby states, according to Riverdale Ridge athletic director Aaron Reisen.

The pay scale depends on the level of game (junior varsity vs. varsity) and how many officials are assigned to work.

By comparison, Texas high-school football officials were paid, at minimum, $105 to $135 per game this season.

According to retired CHSAA umpire Dan Weikle, who worked state-level playoff games during many of his 46 years as a certified baseball official, the pay for an umpire in 1964 was $10 per game.

“If you extrapolate that out, that’s $88 today,” he said a year ago. “We get paid $62. The pay hasn’t kept up with inflation.”

year-end, review, high school sports, Northglenn, Westminster, Thornton


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